Yesterday, Elizabeth and I took a day trip to Albany, the capital of New York. We haven't been there in ages, so we decided it would be a nice place to explore on a nice sunny day. They have an incredibly beautiful State Capitol building. charming housing stock, and a fascinating history. We started in downtown to examine the city's civic buildings and skyscrapers, all top-notch. We more or less had the entire district to ourselves - we saw maybe 2 or 3 people over the course of the first hour. We talked to a nicely-dressed older gentleman who has lived in Albany since 1954 and he said it's always like this; empty. Either way, we were very impressed with the architecture, public spaces, walkability, and surprises around every corner. We took a quick tour of the Albany Institute of History and Art to learn some more about how the city, it's history, culture and to also see some mummies.
After a quick stroll through one of the city's many urban parks, we made our way up to Lark Street. There were a handful of people walking around up this way. We stopped at Crisan Bakery & Edible Art Gallery for some tea and pastries - the cafe had a clean modern interior with some touches of Romanian folk art. After that, we walked a few miles up and down the residential streets of that district. I must say, this city has some of the most beautiful, vivid, historic housing stock out of any Northeast city I've been too, especially for it's small population. Endless blocks of lovely rowhouses. Most of the buildings are the same turn of the century townhouses you'd find in NYC - brownstone, stoops and elegant cornices galore!
We also stopped in Troy, a neighboring city. From the highway, the city looks like your ordinary run-down industrial city, but once you get downtown it's a completely different story. I was completely blown away with the townhouses that surrounded Washington Park. There are tons of eclectic buildings throughout the historic district. Just ask the New York Times, they claim that Troy has "one of the most perfectly preserved 19th-century downtowns in the US" - and to that, from what I've seen, I strongly agree. Although, we saw many vacant storefronts, it seems that many new businesses were opening up. Similar to Albany, we only saw a handful of people walking around the city. Where was everyone on this sunny Saturday afternoon? Hopefully next time we visit, we'll see more life on the streets.