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_   New York State Capitol
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New York State Capitol
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Albany, New York, USA
Completion Date: 1899
Cost: $25 million
Materials: Granite, brick
Engineer(s): William J. McAlpine

In 1899, after 32 years and three teams of architects, construction of the most expensive government building of its time, the New York State Capitol, was finally complete. In 1867, British architect Thomas Fuller initiated the design of the Capitol building. Eight years and three stories later, Fuller was replaced by two prominent American architects, Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Hobson Richardson.

The decision to change architects midstream led to an unusual blend of Italian Renaissance and Romanesque architecture that many historians refer to as "The Battle of the Styles." Today, it is considered one of the most architecturally interesting government buildings in the United States.

Over the past 100 years, the Capitol Building has been plagued by a string of catastrophic events. In 1911, a fire devoured 450,000 books and 270,000 manuscripts in the State Library. It was one of the greatest library disasters of modern times. In 1887, a seven-pound chunk of stone dropped from the arched Assembly chamber ceiling, missing an assemblyman by inches. Years later, water seeped through the ceiling and discolored two murals on the upper walls. A new, flat wooden ceiling was built 20 feet below the previous one, forever sealing the original murals from public view. Even today, the Capitol Building suffers from a stubborn roof leak.

Fast Facts:
  • The New York State Capitol Building is one of only 10 U.S. Capitol buildings without a dome roof.
  • The building was originally constructed on quicksand. During construction, the sand had to be scooped out and completely replaced by clay and concrete.
  • In 1874, local press attacked the design of the new Capitol Building, calling it the "White Elephant."
  • The cornerstone of the building, which contains copies of all the legislation relating to the Capitol, various U.S. coins and currency of 1871, and Albany newspapers of that year, cannot be found today. The builders forgot to mark it.

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