Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 16: The Actual New York State Capitol


Our evening’s primary objective, southeast side.

State Capitol buildings aren’t an absolute must on our road trips, but we’ll drive near them sometimes when it’s convenient, when they have special features, or when the mood strikes. Longtime MCC readers have seen glimpses — and in-depth tours in a few cases — of eleven such buildings in past entries:

We’ve driven through several other capitals without stopping for their capitols, or much of anything else — Little Rock, AR; Atlanta, GA; Des Moines, IA; Topeka, KS; Oklahoma City, OK; Austin, TX; and Richmond, VA. One of those is now a leading contender for our 2019 road trip destination. Most of the rest aren’t in line for a return visit anytime in the foreseeable future. We had hoped to swing by the New Jersey State House on this year’s trip, but Trenton was among several unfortunate cuts from our overstuffed Day Five.

The New York State Capitol, on the other hand, fit neatly into Day Three’s itinerary in Albany. Unlike several other prominent buildings in the area, it wasn’t closed yet when we arrived.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.

We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…

New York State Capitol sign!

A remnant of its opening in 1879, in the days when the phrase “free government” could be uttered without eliciting a dozen smart-aleck remarks.

Fort Frederick!

Much of State Street to the east of the Capitol — which we’d just walked four blocks uphill — was once the acreage of Fort Frederick, used to hold Redcoat POWs during the American Revolution.

General Philip Sheridan!

Standing guard out front is General Philip Sheridan, a renowned Union officer with several successes during the Civil War, born in Albany.

NYSC southwest!

We finally found an open entrance on the Capitol’s southwest side, facing Empire State Plaza’s South Mall.

Welcome to the New York State Capitol!

Just inside, but not in use as of 6:30 p.m.

We popped in and were relieved that the security guards on duty didn’t find us suspicious or weird for entering their mostly emptied workplace. Nearly all government employees had gone home for the day, and we saw at most one other person behaving like a tourist on this quiet Monday evening. We still had to go through the metal detectors as a formality, which we understood.

New York has had an above-average number of famous governors — future Presidents Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, Theodore “Bearslayer” Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Founding Father John Jay; Gerald Ford’s VP Nelson Rockefeller; the “Seward’s Folly” guy; the Cuomo dynasty; and the guys who went on to lose Presidential elections to Rutherford Hayes and Harry Truman, to name a few. With such a roster to draw from, Anne had hoped to find great galleries of painting, statues, and other fancy tributes to any or all of them. With a flawed not-to-scale map and no tour guide, mostly we found halls full of locked doors, with a smattering of culture in the nooks and crannies. We captured what we could.

Washington painting!

Mandatory George Washington painting.

cool chandeliers!

Chandeliers in twilight at a closed alternate entrance.

Grant's Body Slept Here.

Floor plaque commemorating the day President Ulysses S. Grant’s body made a stop here on a grand farewell tour, on the way from Mount McGregor to his final resting place in Manhattan.

Great Hudson River Chain!

Links from the Great Hudson River Chain, 114 pounds apiece out of the total 65-ton deterrents used to cordon the river from British ships in the Revolution.

spooky Columbus!


Our wandering down the echoing halls brought us to the most fascinating part of the New York State Capitol in its cavernous northwest wing…

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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