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Interpreting the Evidence

Senate Chamber, New York State Capitol, Albany, c. 1900

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Industrialization (1870 - 1900)

  • 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 Senate Chamber, New York State Capitol, Albany, c. 1900 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The Senate Chamber at the New York State Capitol, circa 1900.
Historical Context
Although construction would continue for another eighteen years on the New York Capitol Building, the State Senate Chamber was completed and occupied in 1881. Architect Henry H. Richardson designed the room to have perfect acoustics, allowing the senators to easily hear each other when they debate. Called by many "the most beautiful room in the United States," the Senate Chamber features hand-carved ceilings, embossed gold leaf on the upper walls, mammoth fireplaces, and the finest building materials from around the world.
Essential Question
How is architecture influence by a society's values and culture?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and determine the influence of culture on the design.
Historical Challenges
The Senate Chamber has two large fireplaces. What are they nicknamed, and why are they called that?
Materials from many countries were used in the Senate Chamber. On a blank map of the world, label these countries and draw an arrow from each country to New York. Write the name of the material that came from each country on the appropriate arrow.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: The Senate Chamber measures approximately 60 feet long, 55 feet wide, and 50 feet high. What is the room's volume?
Science: What are acoustics? Explore what factors affect acoustics. Discover which rooms in your school have the best acoustics.
English Language Arts: Write a letter to your state senator about a current issue that concerns you.
Art: Following instructions on page 73-74 of the Capitol Tour Program Resource Kit, have students design a classroom.