Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

05/22/2011 - Albany Walking Tour

Almost every Sunday, before I start my tour guide watch, I take a 3 mile plus walk through downtown Albany. I started a daily walking program because of Weight Watchers. My daily goal is to walk a 5K every day (3.2 miles). For the last few years, in May the Weight Watcher program encourages members to train for a 5K walking event (May 22, Walk-It Day). This year, I invited fellow members to join me. Twenty-five fellow members walked along. A few stayed after for a Slater tour.

My Slater-Albany 5K walk is not your average walk. From a historical perspective, the city of Albany is one of the most interesting places in America. It is one of the oldest cities in America. In Albany, European history started around 1540. The Dutch Colony (New Netherland) established a permanent (and continuous) settlement in 1614. The Albany City Charter dates from 1686 (Dongan Charter), and it is the the longest continuously chartered city in the United States.

The USS Slater is docked very near to the location that Henry Hudson visited in 1609. The walk proceeds along Quay Street, to Broadway and the site of old Fort Orange (built in 1614). It continues past steamboat square and the old offices of the Hudson River Day Liner. This is the site where America’s first steamboat docked (Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat, aka Clermont).

Today, lower Broadway is dominated by administrative headquarters of the State University of New York (Old D&H Building). In 1754 the site was dominated by the Stadt Huys (Albany’s 1st City Hall). Benjamin Franklin chaired the 1st Colonial Congress here (Albany Congress) in 1754. On July 19th, 1776 the Declaration of Independence (Dunlap Broadside) was first read to the Citizens of Albany by members of the Committee of Safety.

A few blocks north on Broadway, the route turns up Clinton Ave at the Albany Visitor Center. Albany’s 2nd oldest house (Quackenbush House) is here. In 1777, following his defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, British General Burgoyne rested here as a prisoner of war.

The route turns south on North Pearl Street at the historic Palace Theater. A few years back, many Slater volunteers attended the American premier of the movie filmed on-board (Orion in Midsummer). Continuing south the walk passes the house where Herman Melville lived, the Dutch Reformed Church that Theodore Roosevelt attended and the infamous and historic Kenmore Hotel.

At Steuben Street the walk turns west, and climbs the hill to the New York State Capital. On the 4th of July in 1865 General Grant proceeded this way as the guest of Commodore Vanderbilt. A NY Times story concerning the visit noted the jarring cobblestones.They are still visible today. Walking up Steuben Street you pass historic St. Mary’s, built on a site visited by the Catholic Martyr, Ste. Isaac Jogues in 1643.

At the crest of the hill is the NY State Capital, Lafayette and Academy Park, NY State Court of Appeals and Albany City Hall. George Washington visited in 1782-83 (Mohawk Valley Tour). President Lincoln visited in February, 1861. Not only did Lincoln visit here, he attended a play - guess who starred (details in Albany Times Union September 21, 2009 and May 7, 2009). During the visit, Lincoln stayed at the Delvan House (located at the Union Station) and the Actor stayed at the Stanwix Hotel (located at Maiden Lane and Broadway). The walking tour passes all these sites.

Looping around the Empire State Plaza you can view the NY State Museum and the New York State Executive Mansion. Three Presidents lived in the Executive Mansion (when they were NY State Governors): Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt.

The route returns down State Street and Maiden Lane. Martin Van Buren and Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence lived on State Street.

Near the bottom of the hill a comment made by Alexander Hamilton at a private dinner party on State Street ultimately led to his death at the infamous duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Both Burr and Hamilton lived in Albany for a few years following the revolution.

Crossing Broadway, the route returns to the USS Slater via the Hudson River Way, a pedestrian bridge that crosses Route 787 and links the Corning Preserve and Albany. A hundred fifty years ago the Maiden Lane Rail Road Bridge crossed the Hudson River and the Albany Basin near this site. The Albany Basin was the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal.

Sound Interesting? Feel up to a 5K Walk? I'm is happy to accommodate Slater visitors with a free value-added walking tour of Albany. These need to be scheduled on a case by case basis, contact the Slater Office (518-431-1943) to make arrangements.

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