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5 Facts About New York's Capital: How Well Do You Know Albany?

By Jason Gray   |   Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 09:48 AM

Albany is the state capital of New York. While it's only the sixth largest city in the state, its location along the north end of the Hudson River made it an important part of New York and United States history.

In the media and popular culture, Albany is often overshadowed by its Big Apple neighbor to the south. Here are five facts about Albany that you may not know:

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1. City of many names: A city with as long of a history through as many cultures as Albany is going to have an interesting history of names, as well. The Mahicans called it Pempotowwuthut-Muhhcanneuw, or "the fireplace of the Mohican Nation." The Dutch called it Beverwijck, or "beaver district." The English named it after the Duke of Albany in 1664.

2. Oldest continuously chartered city: According to the Albany Institute of History & Art, the British granted a charter to Albany in 1686, about three months after a similar one was granted to New York City. At the time about 500 people called Albany home. However, New York's charter was given up for two years during Leisler's Rebellion at the end of the 17th century, leaving Albany to claim the oldest continuous charter.

3. First passenger railroad: The Albany – Schenectady Railroad, also known as the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, was the first successful steam railroad that started running regularly scheduled passenger service for the 11 miles between two areas in 1831, according to the New York Department of Transportation. It eventually became part of the New York Central system.

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4. Home of perforated toilet tissue:
Continuous roll perforated toilet paper around a cardboard tube, like most restrooms are stocked with today, was developed in Albany in 1871 by Seth Wheeler, according to city historian Tony Opalka in a 2010 article in All Over Albany. Individual square stacked tissue had been used before then.

5. Thar she blows - Poet and author, Herman Melville grew up in Albany: The Moby Dick author studied classical literature at the Albany Classical School, according to Biography.com. He was born in New York City, but moved to Albany when he was about 11-years-old. After his schooling, he moved to Pittsfield, about 30 miles away in Massachusetts. There he wrote many of his books, including Moby Dick.

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Albany is the state capital of New York. While it's only the sixth largest city in the state, its location along the north end of the Hudson River made it an important part of New York and United States history.
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