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Interpreting the Evidence

Old New York Capitol Building, Albany, n.d.

  • 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 Old New York Capitol Building, Albany, n.d. in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The old New York State Capitol Building in Albany, n.d.
Historical Context
In colonial times, New York's government met in New York City.  When New York became a state, its legislature migrated among various towns, such as Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Albany, and New York City, a practice begun during the Revolutionary War when New York City was occupied by the British.  In 1797, the New York Legislature passed a bill to construct a building in Albany to store its records and papers, effectively making Albany the capital city of New York.

The Old Capitol Building was designed by Philip Hooker.  Construction began in 1806, although the building was not occupied until 1809.  Over time, New Yorkers became dissatisfied with the Capitol, which was too small and poorly ventilated.  Construction began on the New Capitol Building in 1867.  When the Old Capitol was torn down in 1883, the New Capitol was in use but was still far from complete.

Essential Question
How does architecture reflect a society's values and culture?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and determine the influence of culture on its design.
Historical Challenges
What stood on top of the Old Capitol Building?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: The Old Capitol cost $110,685.42 to build. The New Capitol cost $25 million. Approximately how many times more expensive was the New Capitol?
English Language Arts: Discuss the difference between "capitol" and "capital."