Preserve America Community:
Albany, New York (population 97,904) celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2014, making it one of America's oldest cities. Founded by the Dutch in 1614 as a small fur trading fort on Castle Island, Albany became a center for the North American fur trade in the 17th and 18th centuries, the hub of many early roads, the terminus of the Erie Canal, and the origination point of the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, the first steam-powered passenger railroad in the USA.
The capital of New York since the late 18th century, Albany was also well known for producing the cast iron stoves that heated many American homes during the 19th century. Today, Albany has become a center for innovation and education as the home of more than 10 colleges and universities.
Albany has a rich assemblage of governmental, commercial, and residential architectural landmarks. Among other notable accomplishments, its Preserve America Community application highlighted the rehabilitation of six abandoned historic buildings, formerly slated for demolition, as part of a mixed-use development. Five of the buildings on the Historic Wellington Hotel Block will be used for office space, apartments, and retail. One building lobby will feature a permanent exhibit on archaeological remains found nearby and the history of the area. The project is credited with creating 145 local construction jobs.
The centerpiece of the redevelopment is the 1926 DeWitt Clinton Hotel. Located a short walk from the Capitol, the hotel was the site of many important political deals. Closed in 1975, it will reopen as a Renaissance by Marriott hotel and will seek to become one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America. The hotel will create 100 permanent jobs. A brief documentary on the history of the hotel is being developed, and a self-guided walking tour brochure has been produced.
The restoration and reuse of these six prominent buildings has been called the "Upper State Street Renaissance" in local newspapers. Because of this project, the State of New York is building a new convention center behind it, which should generate millions of dollars in revenue.
The non-profit Albany Housing Authority has successfully rehabilitated scores of 19th century buildings throughout the city for use as low income housing, with financial and technical assistance from the City. The City also partners with organizations such as Partners for Albany Stories, a coalition of 12 organizations including the city's most notable historic house museums, the country's first Shaker settlement, the Albany Institute of History & Art, and the Historic Albany Foundation, to support projects such as an interpretive plan for the city's rich history, a mobile phone application providing walking tours of historic neighborhoods, and a database of the city's oldest buildings dating from 1728-1860. Along with the Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Preservation League of New York State, Historic Albany is doing a citywide survey of all buildings and structures that predate the Civil War for planning and education purposes. Survey data is already being used to identify critical vacant buildings, stop their demolition, and seek new owners for these properties.
For more information:
Historic Albany Foundation www.historic-albany.org
A Heritage Guide to the Historic Capital City on the Hudson http://www.historic-albany.org/docs/AlbanyMAP_web.pdf
Discover Our Shared Heritage National Register Travel Itineraries:
Places Where Women Made History http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/pwwmh/
Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/
Shaker Historic Trail http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/shaker/
Posted November 24, 2014