Improve Your Albany IQ

Albany has been around a long time—it was settled more than 400 years ago—so it’s got a lot of history behind it. We’re so much more than just the birthplace of modern toilet paper (although that’s not to say we aren’t eternally grateful to inventor Seth Wheeler)! Most New Yorkers would recognize the USS Slater, the museum ship that cruises the Hudson, but there are tons of other places to learn about Albany’s past.

Museums provide a concentrated dose of history and culture, and New York State Museum is among the best in the world. The facility’s already-impressive line-up of exhibits (on diverse subjects such as minerals, birds, and the World Trade Center buildings) will be bolstered by 35,000 square feet of exhibits; the expansion will take place over a four-year period and will have a theme of “New York Stories.”

The more literary-minded might be interested in William Kennedy’s Albany Cycle novels. The third entry, Ironweed, was awarded the 1984 Pulitzer prize for fiction; it tells the story of an Albany native who, upon returning to the city, is haunted by the ghosts of his troubled past. The author himself was born and raised in Albany, and his work is steeped in the culture of upstate New York. Speaking of writers: did you know that Herman Melville and Henry James both spent parts of their childhood in Albany?

When it comes to celebrating our city’s vibrant past, there’s no right or wrong way—just get out there and educate yourself!