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Interpreting the Evidence

New York State Capitol, Albany, 1911

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Capital District
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load New York State Capitol, Albany, 1911 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load New York State Capitol, Albany, 1911 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
East front of the New York State Capitol, viewed from City Hall, Albany, New York, 1911.
Historical Context
In 1865, the New York State Legislature passed an act authorizing the construction of a new Capitol Building. The act also created a Capitol Commission to oversee the project.  In 1867, the Legislature appropriated a quarter of a million dollars for its construction, but warned the Capitol Commission not to exceed $4 million on the project.  Thirty-two years and $25 million later, Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared the Capitol complete in 1899.  It had cost twice as much as the national Capitol.

According to the design of the original architect, Thomas Fuller, the Capitol was to be built in the Italian Renaissance style with a central courtyard, four main floors, and a large tower.  The actual Capitol building is a blend of architectural styles reflecting the five different architects who worked on the project over its long construction process.

Essential Question
How does architecture reflect a society's values and culture?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the influence of culture on the design.
Historical Challenges
If you took this same photograph today, what building would you see behind the Capitol? When was that building constructed?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many windows are on the front of the Capitol? Estimate how many windows are on the entire building.
Science: Explore the reasons why the tower on the Capitol could not be built as planned.