E. S. Haines
Condition of the Work on the New Capitol, at Albany, N.Y., Photo No. 37, 2:30 P.M., September 22, 1871
10 x 15 inches
Collection: New York State Commission, Restoration of the Capitol, Office of General Services


Gary Gold
Capitol Building, 2002
Lightjet print
10 x 15 inches


New York State Capitol Elevator Door, n.d.
Digital scan for banner
Based on architectual drawing
Collection: Matthew Bender IV

Capitol Building

When Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared the New York State Capitol complete in 1899, it had been under construction for more than a quarter of a century. Its cost had exceeded 25 million dollars. Five architects had worked on its design. It was admired by many as one of the most beautiful buildings in America and ridiculed by some as a vast and expensive boondoggle. But no one could deny that it was unique.

It was built by hand of solid masonry. In places its walls are four or five feet thick. When construction began, electric lighting did not exist and mechanical heating and ventilating were primitive at best. Before it was complete, great strides had been made in building technology. Electricity was used to light the Capitol and advances in heating had been incorporated into it.

The Assembly Chamber had to be substantially rebuilt when structural deficiencies caused its solid stone ceiling to begin to collapse less than ten years after it was completed. In 1911, the State Library and other rooms in the west end of the Capitol were lost in a tragic fire. Over the years innumerable small changes have hidden original ceilings and divided once grand spaces into small offices.

Today, the Capitol is being restored. After extensive research and planning, work is underway to return spaces to their appearance a century ago. At the same time, improvements are being made to ensure that the building will meet the needs of New York State government in the years ahead.

The Albany Capitol: An Overview

1781 Legislature met in Albany’s Stadt Huis or Town Hall for first time.

1809 First Capitol, located just east of present building, completed to          designs of architect Philip Hooker.

1865 Legislative act authorizing construction of new Capitol passed.

1868 Thomas Fuller appointed Architect of the Capitol.

1871 Cornerstone of present Capitol laid.

1876 With exterior walls complete only to second story, Thomas Fuller          replaced as architect by Leopold Eiditz, Henry Hobson Richardson, and          Frederick Law Olmsted.

1879 Assembly met in its Chamber on third floor of the Capitol for first time.

1881 Executive and Senate Chambers occupied.

1883 Isaac G. Perry became Commissioner of the Capitol, replacing Eiditz,          Richardson, and Olmsted as architect.

1888 Stone vaulted ceiling of Assembly Chamber replaced after it failed          structurally.

1891 Work began on Eastern Approach, Capitol’s great exterior staircase.

1896 Great Western Staircase completed with installation of a skylight.

1899 Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared Capitol complete.

1911 Fire destroyed much of western side of Capitol.

1917 Court of Appeals moved out of Capitol.

1977 Restoration of the Senate Chamber begun.

1979 Capitol declared a National Historic Landmark.

Text courtesy of The New York State Commission, Restoration of the Capitol, Office of General Services