The other Albanies

By Carl Johnson

Okay, we all know we're not the only Albany in the United State. Though we are the oldest Albany in the US, and still the biggest.

And, as it turns out, many of those other Albanies were named in honor of this Albany...

This Albany
Most folks know that our fair city began with the names of Fort Nassau and Fort Orange, the trading forts of the Dutch West India Company; and Beverwyck, the adjacent village established by the Patroon, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer.

When England took control of New Netherlands in 1664, its principal cities were renamed for the Duke of York and Albany, who would later be King James II. (Albany is, essentially, Scotland, as any fan of Henry V knows.) After a brief flirtation with the name Willemstadt while the Dutch held the upper hand in 1673, the city went back to being Albany (and, ostensibly, English) the following year, and has remained such ever since. As we know, Albany became a hotbed of political, industrial and commercial activity, and with the establishment of the Erie Canal, became a key point in the westward migration.

There's an Albany in at least 23 other states (Wisconsin has two towns and a village by that name). No doubt any number of these Albanies were named for the auld sod across the pond, but a surprising number were named for the city on the banks of the Hudson.

Georgia
Albany, Georgia, for instance, was given our name by its founder (from Connecticut) in 1836, because it was also at the navigable head of a river; it also had a significant railroad heritage. Today it's the second-largest Albany in terms of population (77,434 people in 2010).

Kentucky
Albany, Kentucky was so-named when the location was voted to be the seat of Clinton County government in 1837, presumably because Albany, New York was also a noted seat of government.

New Hampshire
Albany, New Hampshire is a town in the White Mountains. It was previously called Burton, until it was annexed to another county in 1857 and renamed Albany. This is said to have been some relation to the New York Central Railroad, but the reasoning is unclear.

Oregon
Albany, Oregon is perhaps our farthest namesake, named in honor of our city in 1848; it is situated on the Calapooia and Willamette rivers. While not the first settlers in the area, brothers Walter and Thomas Monteith bought a claim of 320 acres, plotted out 60 acres as a town site, and named it for their hometown of Albany, New York. (For this privilege, they paid $400 and a horse.) James P. Millar of Albany, New York followed the Monteiths to Albany, Oregon, and as a Presbyterian missionary helped form an Albany Academy there, a predecessor of Lewis & Clark College.

California
Albany, California is another well-known Albany, in the San Francisco Bay area, directly adjacent to Berkeley. It was first incorporated as Ocean View, in 1908, but in order to differentiate itself from the identically named section of Berkeley, residents voted just a year later to name it in honor of Albany, New York, the birthplace of their first mayor, Frank Roberts. (The vote was 38 to 6, by the way.) Another similarity we might strive for: the city is best known for the Albany Bulb, a former landfill that has been transformed into a significant park.

Oklahoma
Albany, Oklahoma may well be our smallest namesake. It's an unincorporated community in Bryan County, with a population of 122, but it's had a post office since 1894.

Other Albanies
Not all our namesakes have survived. Albany, Alabama, previously known as New Decatur, was a planned community that billed itself as the Chicago of the South, primarily for its rail. Tensions between New and Old Decatur led the newer city to rename itself Albany in 1916, in honor of the New York State capital. When they needed to build a bridge over the Tennessee River, it led to a proposal to unite the two cities, which became neither new nor old, but just plain Decatur in 1927.

How many other of these Albanies -- for you can find one in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming -- were named for our Albany isn't clear. Some were no doubt named by westward-ho types, as so many other New York City names were carried west.

But one of these Albanies was clearly not named for us: Albany, Texas, established in 1873, was named by its county clerk for his former home of Albany, Georgia. Which was named after us. So it's sort of our grandchild.

Surprisingly, we even have a namesake across the ocean, on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Jacob Glen Cuyler, a native of our fair city whose father, Abraham, was the last British-appointed mayor, went into exile after his father was jailed at the start of the Revolution. They went from New York City to Canada, then to England, where Jacob became an infantry captain and was sent to South Africa. He settled there on a farm, married, and named the area between the Sunday and Fish rivers "Albany" for his ancestral home.

Carl Johnson writes about history and other fun stuff at Hoxsie! and My Non-Urban Life.

More Carl on AOA:
+ What is the oldest business in Albany?
+ A future in plastics and billiard balls
+ The highway that was almost buried under Washington Park
+ Why Stanford isn't in Albany

Comments

And don't forget sunny Albany, Australia, which AOA has written about before.

From The Annals of Albany, Volume II by Joel Munsell. 1850.

"The Fuyck - The earliest name of the hamlet which was gathered on the site of the city of Albany, is called in Rensselaerswyck manuscripts, The Fuyck, or Beversfuyck, which signified a hoop-net, and takes its same from the formation of the shore of the river."

"That the Dutch continued to call Albany the Fuyck, long after the surrender of the country to the English, is evident from letters among the Rennsselaerswyck manuscripts. 'De huysen in de Fuyck' is an expression in one of S. van Cortland's letters, dated N. Yorck, 20th April, 1681, as well as in several others of an anterior date."

I know I've mentioned this in a comment here before, but an interesting note on the Albany in Texas: It is actually a picture of a field of mesquite trees and Texas bluebonnets in Albany, TX that welcomes everyone to the Albany, NY baggage claim, and this has been that way for almost a decade. Oops!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/51631277@N00/5266099435/

So I wasn't going to mention that the first recorded communication back home to the Netherlands, describing where the new residents were living, received only the terse, shocked response of "What?! The Fuyck?"

I will literally be here all week.

So I wasn't going to mention that the first recorded communication back home to the Netherlands, describing where the new residents were living, received only the terse, shocked response of "What?! The Fuyck?"

I will literally be here all week.

Charlie Rossiter, the late (great) Tom Nattell and the very present Dan Wilcox formed the poetry performance group "Three Guys From Albany" and tried to see how many other US Albany-named towns they could perform in.

There is the little town of Albany, WA here in Oz, as mentioned.

But it's pronounced differently -- the 'Al' rhymes with "Pal" not "Ball").
I still want to call it Allllllllbany after living in the Capital District for so long though.

@James -- even stranger, that picture is an ad for Robin Imaging, a Cincinnati photo lab that I believe has no presence here. And shouldn't show its face in this town, after that insult. I propose that we rent a sign in their airport with a picture of Cincinnatus, NY (closest we come) in retaliation:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=cincinnatus,+ny&hl=en&ll=42.533657,-75.904847&spn=0.020429,0.034204&sll=40.737486,-73.987664&sspn=0.084025,0.136814&hnear=Cincinnatus,+Cortland,+New+York&t=m&z=15&layer=c&cbll=42.533657,-75.904847&panoid=GM09atXNInERub3cxWbLbQ&cbp=12,90,,0,0

There is also a village called New Albany - an affluent suburb of Columbus - in Ohio.

I refuse to accept any of these cities into the Albany Club if their population pronounces it 'Al - bany' instead of 'All - bany'!

Great post! As an Albany, NY transplant in Corvallis, OR, I now take Amtrak from Albany, OR to Portland - and 60% of the time I accidentally select Albany/Rensselaer, NY and try to buy my ticket from there . Also, I have to remember to tell people that I moved from Albany, NY and not just Albany, or else they think I am making a really big deal about my move. Also, US Rt. 20 goes through Albany, OR as well as Albany, NY.

I would also include New Albany, Indiana, which was not only named in honor of the first Albany, but was founded by three brothers from Albany - Joel, Nathaniel, and Abner Scribner. They were all born in Albany, New York. Their father, Nathaniel, had been a militia commander during the Revolutionary War. In 1813, they laid out the town of New Albany, which was below the Falls of the Ohio (therefore, the head of navigation on the Ohio to points south, just like the original Albany).

The original street plan is a grid with numbered streets running north and south. But the Scribner brothers did homage to their old hometown by making the principal north-south street (which runs to the river) State Street. There is also a Pearl Street, but this runs parallel to State. Troy and Utica Streets also call to mind their home state.

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