Essential Architecture- New England

New York State Capitol


Three teams of architects worked on the design of the Capitol during the 32 years of its construction. They were led by:
1867-75: Thomas Fuller
1875-83: Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Hobson Richardson
1883-99: Isaac G. Perry


Albany, New York




French Renaissance (reminiscent of Loire Valley chateaux) and Romanesque  "The Battle of the Styles."


exterior is made of white granite from Hallowell, Maine, and the building incorporates marble cut by state prisoners at Sing Sing.


  The Capitol viewed from the west
  The Capitol viewed from the east
  The Capitol viewed from the Corning Tower
  A statue of George Washington behind the Capitol
Above image copyright Will Sherman. Special thanks to
Capitol architect Isaac Parry took over construction of the Great Western Staircase in the New York State Capitol from Henry Hobson Richardson in 1883 and made distinctive design modifications including increasing the amount of decorative stone carving and reworking the skylight system. When the staircase was completed in 1897, its crowning feature was the extensive and well-designed skylight system that flooded the staircase with natural light and illuminated its beautiful hand-carved sandstone ornamentation.

However, in 1942, as a wartime air raid precaution, the underside of the skylight was covered and painted. The covering and skylight were removed in the 1960s and replaced with plywood and slate, leaving one of the grandest features of the Capitol a dark and gloomy place.

In April of 2000, as part of The Master Plan for the New York State Capitol, the New York State Office of General Services Design and Construction Group undertook the restoration of the laylight and reconstruction of the skylight. Through tremendous teamwork, and using high standards of quality for restoration and preservation, this technically challenging project was completed within two years. For the first time in over 60 years, the public can now see and experience natural light in the architecturally grand Great Western Staircase.
The New York State Capitol is the state capitol building of the U.S. state of New York. Housing the New York Legislature, it is located in the state capital of Albany on State Street in Capitol Park. The building, completed in 1899 at a cost of $25 million (roughly half a billion current dollars), was the most expensive government building of its time. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1979.[1][3]

The Capitol was constructed between 1867 and 1899 and inspired by the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris, France. Three teams of architects designed it. The building is constructed in both Romanesque and Renaissance styles. This has led some historians to dub it "The Battle of the Styles." Notable architectural features include its interior "Million Dollar Staircase" and massive, 166 foot long exterior Eastern Staircase. The Capitol exterior is made of white granite from Hallowell, Maine, and the building incorporates marble cut by state prisoners at Sing Sing. The granite structure is 220 feet (67 meters) tall at its highest point, and it is one of ten U.S. state capitols that does not have a domed roof. Underground tunnels connect it to the Empire State Plaza and Alfred E. Smith Building. The building's exterior is currently undergoing restoration.