Albany ( AWL-bən-ee) is the capital of the U.S. state of New York, and the seat and largest city of Albany County. Albany is on the west bank of the Hudson River, about 10 miles (16 km) south of its confluence with the Mohawk River, and about 135 miles (220 km) north of New York City.
The city is known for its architecture, commerce, culture, institutions of higher education, and rich history. It is the economic and cultural core of the Capital District of New York State, which comprises the Albany–Schenectady–Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area, including the nearby cities and suburbs of Troy, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs. With an estimated population of 1.1 million in 2013, the Capital District is the third most populous metropolitan region in the state. As of 2020, Albany’s population was 99,224.
The Hudson River area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Mohican (Mahican), who called it Pempotowwuthut-Muhhcanneuw. The area was settled by Dutch colonists who, in 1614, built Fort Nassau for fur trading and, in 1624, built Fort Orange. In 1664, the English took over the Dutch settlements, renaming the city Albany in honor of the Duke of Albany, the future James II of England and Ireland/James VII of Scotland. The city was officially chartered in 1686 under English rule. It became the capital of New York in 1797 after the formation of the United States. Albany is one of the oldest surviving settlements of the original British thirteen colonies; no other city in the United States has been continuously chartered as long.
In the late 18th century and throughout most of the 19th, Albany was a center of trade and transportation. The city lies toward the north end of the navigable Hudson River. It was the original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal, connecting to the Great Lakes, and was home to some of the earliest railroads in the world. In the 1920s, a powerful political machine controlled by the Democratic Party arose in Albany. In the latter part of the 20th century, Albany’s population shrank because of urban sprawl and suburbanization. In the 1990s, the New York State Legislature approved for the city a $234 million building and renovation plan, which spurred renovation and building downtown. In the early 21st century, Albany’s high-technology industry grew, with great strides in nanotechnology.