A few steps into the past

capitol staircase shorpyThe vintage photo blog Shorpy featured a 1905 photo of the capitol's Great Western Staircase yesterday. Be sure to click through to see the large versions of the photo.

That staircase has quite the history. From a state assembly tour of the capitol:

The Great Western Staircase, also known as the Million Dollar Staircase, took an unheard of 14 years to construct, from 1883-1897 and cost, more than one million dollars. The delays in constructing this magnificent staircase were two-fold. Designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and built by Isaac Perry, the staircase contains 444 steps and reaches 119 feet high. is renowned as an outstanding example of American architectural stone carving excellence.

Here's a more extensive photo tour of the staircase on the site Northeast Architecture, which includes more of the history behind the steps.

From a 1894 NYT article about work on the capitol:

The greatest architectural work on this continent has just been completed in Albany -- in the construction of the western staircase of the new Capitol. Architects who have seen it declare that for originality of design, for beauty, and for accuracy of finish its equal does not exist even in the old country.

The staircase includes the busts and faces of a bunch of historical figures -- a list that was not without some controversy. From a 1898 NYT article:

In carving heads on the great Western staircase in the Capitol, the features of half a dozen men who were prominent only in the local affairs of Albany were made. This has caused considerable ill-feeling, even among Albanian, and it is a question of but a short time, when the faces in stone will be "worked over" from those of obscure persons into those of historical nes.

(Thanks, James G and Dan!)

photo via Shorpy

Comments

Love this article! I find the whole Empire State Plaza area historically fascinating. You should dig something up on the egg/corning tower. I've read in the past about how the buildings and formation of the Empire State Plaza are highly reminiscent of fascist architecture. Interesting, no?

Very very nice old photo.

Here is another one from Carl's Old Photos on Flickr, a newer one by JaxPhotography, and a few others by searching for "capitol staircase" in the Flickr Albany, NY group.

Just in case you're keeping track, my stairs cost $1260 and took me 2 hours to install.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you're enjoying the holiday -- in whatever shape it's taking for you. Thanks for being part of AOA this year!... (more)

Holiday markets 2014

Many people will be out and about doing holiday shopping over the next few weeks. If you're looking for something a little bit different --... (more)

Lark Street's Hot Dog Heaven closing

A piece of Lark Street history closes its doors for good on Sunday. Hot Dog Heaven, the tiny Lark Street diner where Barbara Lamperella and... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Thanksgiving, media criticism, a fire tower, Cooperstown, moss, the Saratoga restaurant... (more)

Checking out Slidin' Dirty's new restaurant space

I'm a big fan of food trucks, and particularly fond of Slidin' Dirty. So I was over the moon when I heard they were opening... (more)

Recent Comments

I am so very thankful for the wonderful people who wandered in and out of my life over the last few years. They have given me the love and support I need to survive and thrive. Last year at this time I was at my lowest. By the grace of all that is good in my life, I have climbed out and I'm happier than I've been in a very, very long time.

City Line Bar and Grill

...has 11 comments, most recently from Me Too

Holiday markets 2014

...has 1 comment, most recently from julie

Checking out Slidin' Dirty's new restaurant space

...has 7 comments, most recently from Cyril

Drawing: What are you thankful for this year?

...has 46 comments, most recently from llcwine

A look inside The Shop in Troy

...has 12 comments, most recently from misty