Henry Hudson was the first European to set foot in the Albany area when he sailed up the Hudson River in 1609. The place was first dubbed "Fort Orange," and in 1624, several French-speaking families settled in the promising area. In 1664, Fort Orange was taken from the Dutch by the British and was renamed in honor of the Duke of Albany. More than a century later, in 1797, Albany was named the state capital of New York. It was not long before the city became a northeastern transportation hub because of its numerous turnpikes and riverside locale.
Albany today contains many unique attractions that are reminiscent of the city's rich history. The weathervane on top of the State University of New York's Central Administration Building is the largest working weathervane in North America. The weathervane is a replica of the Half Moon ship in which the explorer Henry Hudson sailed. The Albany Visitors Center offers great exhibits on the city's history. There are also many historic homes in Albany that are available for tours, such as the Schuyler Mansion, Pruyn House and Ten Broeck Mansion.
In addition to a rich heritage, Albany offers unparalleled educational opportunities. School districts in the Albany suburbs vary in size depending on enrollment and provide a wide range of learning environments for area students. The Albany City School District consists of 12 elementary schools, three middle schools, one comprehensive high school, and a number of alternative education programs. Albany's schools have been recognized by the state and federal governments, as well as by national publications.
Albany also has many outstanding and stable employment opportunities. For example, the world's largest computer chip manufacturer, Intel, is located in Albany, along with GlobalFoundries in Malta, just minutes away. Regeneron Science to Medicine in Rensselaer is also a short drive from Albany, as is the Federal Express Headquarters, also located in Rensselaer.
There are also many opportunities for education following high school. Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany Law School, Siena College, the College St. Rose, Sage College, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute (RPI), State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, SUNY Empire State College, University College (Schenectady), and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government are all excellent options for higher education.
In terms of arts and entertainment, Albany is superb. There are a number of fine museums, including the New York State Museum – the largest state museum in the country – and the Albany Institute of History and Art, where two Egyptian mummies have been on public display since 1831. The performing arts are also of high quality in Albany. Albany Symphony Orchestra, Albany Civic Theatre and New York State Theatre Institute all offer amazing performances year-round. In the summer, visitors and residents can enjoy theatre under the stars with the Park Playhouse.
There are also many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway allows for biking, walking, jogging and skating. Skiing, fishing, hiking and swimming are also feasible with the beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains that surround Albany. If you're a sports fan, the Pepsi Arena is home to the Albany Firebirds arena football as well as the Albany River Rats hockey. The city also hosts countless fun community events year-round. For instance, the Capital District Garden and Flower Show has been deemed one of the "Top 100 Events" by a national tour bus organization. The Saratoga Festival and Dressage, consisting of five world-class horse shows and more than 200 vendors, is one of the "Top 5 Events" in the state of New York. Albany's Annual Tulip Festival keeps the city's Dutch heritage alive, while the Shaker Craft and Herb Festival embraces the culture of one of the area's prominent groups.
Marietta Allen from "Weekend" has said that Albany "has a metropolitan rhythm, but with a friendliness and openness" that makes it a welcoming destination. Whether you are visiting for the weekend or looking to live here for the rest of your life, Albany will fulfill your every need and whim.
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