ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Have you ever wondered why Albany is the capital of New York? According to Discover Albany, the official tourism agency for Albany County, the city has a rich history dating back over 400 years.
In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name and started a trading post near current-day Albany. Fort Nassau was built in 1614, serving as an outpost for fur trading for the Dutch West India Company in Manhattan. Fort Orange later replaced Fort Nassau and became a permanent settlement, according to Discover Albany.
The West India Company established the village of Beverwijck in 1652. In 1664 when the Dutch surrendered to the British, King Charles II granted the territory to his brother James, the Duke of both York and Albany, according to Discover Albany. Beverwyck became Albany and New Amsterdam became New York. Albany remained under British rule until the American Revolution.
A charter for the City of Albany was granted on July 22, 1686. This charter still governs the city, making this the oldest charter still used in the United States, said the Albany Institute of History and Art. At the time, about 500 people lived in Albany. As a frontier settlement, the city became important as a trading hub and military supply center.
In 1754, leaders of several colonies met to develop a common defense against the French. The Albany Plan of Union was then drafted, but it was never adopted. Between 1757 and 1763, Albany became the hub of military planning during the French and Indian War, said Discover Albany.
During the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783, Albany was a supply center as well as a focal point for military planning because of its central location on the Hudson River, said Discover Albany. In 1797, Albany became the official state capital. However, Albany was not the first capital of the state, Kingston was.
According to the City of Kingston website, in September 1777, officials met in Kingston to declare it a sovereign state and establish the first New York State Senate, making the city New York’s first capital. One month later, the city was burned down by British troops who came from the south. British troops from the north never reached Albany, as they were stopped at Saratoga.
After Kingston, New York’s legislature continued to convene annually in New York City and Albany. In 1797 the decision was made to establish Albany as its permanent capital.
Albany’s rich history, its central location on the Hudson, being a trading and military planning hub, as well a military supply center, are all reasons it was chosen to be the capital after the burning of Kingston.
Since its inception as the state capital, Discover Albany said it has been a center for banking, railroads, and international trade. Four New York governors also went on to become President of the United States.