Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Gazetteer of the State of New York, 1872.

Gazetteer of the State of New York : embracing a comprehensive account of the history and statistics of the state, with geological and topographical descriptions, and recent statistical tables , by Hough, Franklin Benjamin, Albany, N.Y. : Andrew Boyd (1872)

The Gazetteer carries this well-known rendering of the State Capitol---identified, as all proper architectural drawing must be, with at least a basic descriptor:---here, it is Fuller & Lavar; and thus we can date it after Arthur Gilman had bowed out officially, asking that his name be dis-associated from the project, It indicates a four-story building, as the narrative states, but little effort has been expended in the perspective to indicate a 55-foot decline across the site, as the land slopes from west to east towards the facing facade and the Hudson river. The narrative below states that what's been described variously as the ground, first, or basement floor, (take your pick) was 20-feet high, while the drawing hints at a drop-off of about half that, or maybe ten feet.

In the July, 1879, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly magazine, on page 20, is an illustration leading in an article by the Hon. Erastus Brooks, The Progress of New York, which shows a much-altered Fuller-esque design. It appears to have had an entire story lopped off in the curtain wall sections that alternate between the towers, while I'm not sure what has become of the Assembly Chamber. The more realistic depiction of the typography would indicate a radically different perception in the building's scale between the east and west fronts, and since the site was hemmed in by townhouses for the following 100 years, there really was no other way to perceive it.

It appears that Fuller was attempting to rein in the soaring costs by resisting the grandiose imperatives of the New Capitol Commissioners, which had led them into a monstrous hell-hole of a foundation. Fuller is shrinking the building's scale relative to that seen in a photograph showing a stereo-card taken of the $4,000 scale model, which was exhibited on site for many years, even if it ended up in an obvious abortion.

The main logic offered by the Commissioners for switching architects mid-stream was that a change in styles offered a reduction in costs. But in comparing the following two drawings, both done in a clear hand of Richardsonian Romanesque style, I think I found out who the real culprit was. The first is dated from the March 11, 1876, American Architect and Building News. It isn't realized---Richardson neglects any chimneys for the secondary heating and ventilating in the rooms, which was a requirement stressed from the beginning by the Commissioners.

But look what is happening in another image from a publication put out as part of Albany's bi-centennial celebration in 1886. Although the two curtain sections maintain their diminutive, almost domestic, status, the corner towers are shooting up while the central towers are growing lower and fatter, and the center section  above the Assembly Chamber has gained an extra floor, with still enough attic space to hide all the crazy people you want! And look at the leveled ground surface. They've sunk the whole damn building in---and not because of quicksand either!

In Colonial times New York (or "New Amsterdam," of the Dutch period) was the seat of Government. During the Revolution the sessions of the Conventions which exercised supreme power, and afterwards the sessions of the State Legislature, were held at Poughkeepsie, Kings- ton, Albany and other places, but in 1784, were again restored to New York. In 1797, Commissioners were appointed to erect a building for the records at Albany, and the sessions of the Legislature having been held at New York, Poughkeepsie and Albany, as circumstances made it expedient, were finally fixed at the latter place in 1798. The public records were removed to Albany by an order dated July 31, 1798.

The Old State House— was begun in 1803, and finished in 1807, at the expense of the city and county of Albany, and State of New York.. It was used jointly by them until about 1832, when the State became the exclusive occupant. It stands at the head of State street, 130 feet above the Hudson, and has a park of three acres, enclosed in an iron fence, thickly planted with elms.

The New Capitol—

An Act authorizing the erection of a New Capitol was passed May 1, 1865, and work was commenced Dec. 9, 1867. The foundations have been brought up to the level of the ground floor, and six feet above the line of terrace, at a cost, including the land, amounting, in January, 1871, to $2,251,315.69.'

TrvoD, in Decemlior, 1775, tlie pnb- d titles and other inlerests otinoat vii. Avcie taken c.ii lioard tlie. ship •niaiiu-d iiri boiiid, witli :i elerk in Duchess of Gtinlon. and reiiiaiiied charge, niitil Noven.her, 17:!1. When retnmed to the cUy, they were Ibiuid so injnred. tliat tlie more Taliiable ones were, l)y order of the Legislature, transcribed iu 1798. The originals, although mostly iu existeuce, are now seldom, or never, referred to. 2 The building is of Nyack red freestone, 90 ft. broad, 50 ft. high, and was oiiginallv 115 ft. deep: but in 1854, 15 ft. were twlded to ihi- rrai. U cost over $120,000, of which the city paid !f ;u -''10. and the eonutv, $3,000. Besides a Senate and an .-is.s'.-iiihlv Chaiiibers, it contains the Executive Offlce, Adjutant-General's Office, rooms for the Court of .Appeals. anil various rooms, used lor legislative purposes. It will be taken down upon the completion of the new Capitol build- ing. The court room of the Court of .Appeals contains por- traits of Chanrciluis Lansing. Sundford. .Tones, and Wal- worth; Chief .Insure S|.ene.f. .\lnaliaiH Van Veehteu, Daidel Cady, etc. In llie Scniii.- Chamlu'r are i>c,itraits of Gov. Geo. Clinton, and Cuiunilius; in the Governor's room, one of La Fayette, and in the Assembly Koom, a copy of Stuart's Washington. 3

In 1863, the Senate referred the subject of a new Capitol to a Committee on Public Buildings, and under this resolution plans and estimates were invited, and a report made Mar. 1, 1864, in which it was stated that three plans had been offered. An act authorizing construction was passed in 1865, as above stated. It authorized the Commissioners of the Land Office, within three years after, to accept from the city of Albany, or the citizens thereof, a deed in fee simple and unencumbered, of a piece of land adjacent to the old Capitol, known as Congress Hall block, bounded by Washington avenue, Park place, Congress and Hawk streets. Congress street was to be closed, and the land between Congress aud State streets, east of Hawk, was taken. Three Commissioners were to be appointed by the Governor and Senate, to procure plans and specifications, and to have charge of the erection of the building. The city having complied with these terms, the location and site of the Capitol was confirmed April 14, 1866. The sum of $250,000 was granted April 22, 1867, aud a like amount May 19, 1868. By the latter act, Hamilton Harris, John V. L. Pruyn, and William A. Rice, of Albany; Obadiah B, Latham, of Seneca Falls; James S. Thayer, of New York; Alonzo B. Cornell, of Ithaca: James Terwilliger, of Syracuse, and John T. Hudson, of Buffalo, were named as Commissioners in place of Messrs. Harris, Pruyn, and Latham, who had been previously appointed. Power was at this time given to take the lower half of the blocks between Washington avenue and State street. The sites of the old Capitol and the State Library (included within the premises), and the buildings known as Congress Hall Buildings, were not to he removed until further order of the Legislature. The Board organized June 9, 1868, Mr. Harris being appointed Chairman, Mr. Pruyn Treasurer, and Mr. Terwilliger, Secretary. The site cost about $450,000, besides the $120,000 given by the city. Thirty designs were submitted, and no one of them proved fully satisfactory, although some were preferred before others, and premiums were paid to Fuller, Nichols & Brown, to Schultz & Schoen, and to Augustus Laver, $1,000 each; to Walter Dixon, and Harrison & Salltzer, $750 each; and to E. Boyden & Son, and Wilcox & King, $500 each. Mr. Arthur Gilman was employed to prepare a design and plans in conformity with instructions of the Board. These were presented Aug. 1, and at the same time three others were offered. After various proceedings and some disagreement with the Land Office, who had authority with the Commissioners in the selection of plans, a design submitted by Fuller & Gilman was adopted by the Board, November 13, 1867. They were approved by the Commissioners of the Land Office the same day, and by the Governor, December 7, 1867. On the 14th of August, 1868, Mr. Thomas Fuller was employed by the new commission as Architect. On the 10th of September, he submitted a detailed estimate of the cost of work and material, amounting to $3,924,665. The location, with reference to the grounds, was fixed December 4, 1868, and some changes were afterwards made in the details of plans. The grounds of Capitol Square, from Eagle street, to a new street on the west, are 1,034 ft. long, and 330 wide, containing 7.84 acres. The new street is 155 ft. above tide.

The excavations are, on an average, 15 ft. below the surface: the foundations are laid in concrete, and all the work thus far has been of the most solid and substantial kind. Limestone from Lake Champlain and the Mohawk valley, and gneiss from Hadley, Saratoga county, were principally used in the foundations, and granite from Dix Island, Maine, will be used for the external walls of the basement. The blocks of this material are of immense size, some of them weighing from twenty to thirty tons.

From details furnished by the Architect, we have prepared the following description of the internal arrangements:

The building will be 290 by 390 in size on the ground, covering nearly 2¾ acres, and the central central tower will be about 300 feet in height. There will be a large entrance hall upon each side. It will have a sub-basement, a ground floor story, 20 ft. high, and three floors above, each with rooms 25 ft. high.

The sub-basement will have various storerooms, engineers' offices, ventilating and heating apparatus, etc. In the 1rst or ground floor story of the east front, is a large central hall, and on the right and left grand staircase halls leading to the several floors. There are also in the first story, two restaurants, with various rooms, smoking, bathing, barbershop, etc., and several committee rooms, the later having an area together of 10,000 sq. ft. There is also from this floor upward, an open court, of 11,700 sq. ft., and two others, each 1,100 sq. ft., for affording light to the rooms above, and various air shafts, lifts and elevators.

The first principal story will contain the Governor's rooms in the south-east pavilion and neighboring curtains, including reception room, business rooms, rooms for private secretary, military secretary, etc., in all 4,500 sq. ft. The Adjutant-General's office, and different departments connected with it, will occupy the centre of the east front, with an area of 5,000 sq. ft. ; the Court of Appeals, the centre of the north front, and the various rooms connected with the court. The court room will have 5,400 sq. ft.; consultation rooms 1,000 ft.; and other rooms, 1,500 ft. The Attorney-General's rooms on the north side contain 1,000 ft. ; Secretary of State, in the northeast pavilion, 1,300 ft., and adjoining apartments 2,000 ft. Various committee rooms on this floor have an area of 5,500 ft. There is a central west entrance hall to this story. The next or principal floor above will contain the State Library in the east front, with a height of 50ft., and galleries; a Senate Chamber on the south side, also 50 ft. high, with 4,000 area, exclusive of galleries, and an Assembly Chamber on the north side, with 6,720 ft. area, exclusive of galleries, and 50 ft. high. Each will have adjoining rooms for presiding officers, clerks, post-offices, etc., and libraries for Senate and Assembly, each of 1,300 sq. ft. There will be a reception room in the north-west tower, 1,300 ft., and various other rooms for committees and other uses, together having an area of 4,500 ft. The galleries of the Senate and Assembly Chambers will have each an area of 4,300 ft., and on the same floor as the entrance to these are various committee rooms, document rooms, etc.

Few buildings, if indeed any, in the United States, will equal the new Capitol building at Albany, whether regard be had to imposing effect, elegance of detail, or massive solidity of structure. Besides the Capitol, the public buildings in Albany are the:

State Hall.

On Eagle street, opposite Albany Academy, with parks in front and rear. It was finished in 1842, and is of white marble from Sing Sing, in the Grecian style with an Ionic portico in front, and surmounted by a dome. It contains the offices of the Secretary of State, Canal Department, Comptroller, Treasurer, State Engineer and Surveyor Clerk of Court of Appeals, Department of Public Instruction, Banking Department, Insurance Department, Attorney General, Canal Commissioners, Canal Appraisers and Canal Engineers. It also contains the State Standards of Weights and Measures. The building is 88 by 138 feet, 65 feet high, in three stories, and cost about $350,000.

Geological and Agricultural Hall.

Built in 1855, on the site of the old State Hall, corner of State and Lodge street. The front portion contains the offices of the State Agricultural Society, and the rooms and collections of the State Museum of Natural History. The rear portion has a lecture room in the basement, and the Museum of the State Agricultural Society. All of these collections are free and open to the public. Among the more interesting articles in the museum is the skeleton of a Mammoth, found at Cohoes, Casts of Skeletons of the huge Mamalia of geological periods, Indian and historical relics, and valuable collections of plants, shells, insects, fossils, &.c. This Cabinet was begun in the course of the Geological Survey, and has since been greatly increased by special purchases and additions. By an act of May 2, 1870, it is in charge of a Director, and provision is made for a free course of scientific lectures.

State Library,

In the rear of the Old Capitol, and to be demolished when the new State House is completed. It is fire proof, with red freestone fronts, and was built in 1853-4, at a cost of $91,900. It is 114 by 45 feet, 2 stories, and was opened January 2, 1855. The State Library is under the charge of the Regents of the University, and was founded in 1818. It had at the beginning of 1871, 60,945 volumes in the General Library, and 21,911 in the Law Library. This exceedingly valuable collection has many objects of rare interest, among which may be mentioned costly series of volumes presented by foreign governments, the original Andre Papers, the original of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the manuscripts of Sir William Johnson and of Gov. George Clinton, a cabinet of coins and medals, and many rare and valuable works relating to early American History.

State Normal School.

The State Normal School, corner of Lodge and Howard streets, was built in 1848, at a cost of $25,000. It has an Experimental Department and it has always maintained a high reputation for the completeness of its course of instruction.

and an Arsenal.

Corner of Eagle and Hudson streets, in a valley where its architectural effect is lost. It was built in 1858, out of part of the funds arising from the sale of the State Arsenal in the Central Park, New York city.


In the organization of the Legislative Department of the General Government, each State has an equal representation in one House, and a representation in the other based upon the number of inhabitants, deducting Indians not taxed, and such classes as by State law may be excluded from the right of voting, except for participation in rebellion or other crime. Under the Constitution as it was before the late war, representation was based upon the total population, (excepting Indians not taxed,) and three fifths of "all. other persons," by which term slaves were included. Direct taxation whenever imposed by the Congress of the United States, is based upon the returns of population in the same manner as that of representation. But such taxes have been laid only upon extraordinary occasions, and but three instances occur in the history of our National Government, when such an expedient was deemed necessary. The legislative power of the State in Congress, is exercised by two Senators, chosen by joint ballot of the Legislature, for a term of 6 years, and 31 Representatives, elected for 2 years by districts, according to the population as ascertained once in ten years by a census.

1 comment:

  1. Hi-- i am wondering if you could offer some expert advice. I am writing a history that has a murder trial in it; in the trial, which involved adultery and one of the state assemblymen, the woman kept a diagram of the new capitol building in her drawer. I don't know if it was a actual architectural diagram or more of an artist's rendering of the approved building. It diagram was likely created in 1866 or 67 (but maybe even in 64 yo 65, though I doubt it). It was probably the diagram that state politicians examined, voted on and approved. Do you know of the earliest rendition or diagram of the capitol? You mention that the 1872 is a well know depiction? Might that be the original, but with the changing architects amended?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.