CITY AS TEXT 2021
Voices for Freedom
Albany has a long history of activism, with countless individuals advocating for positive social change. This strand encourages attendees to explore the many voices of individuals who have helped pave pathways to freedom from oppression, leading to equity and balance in society. On this exploration through history, you will able to learn more about the diversity of New York. Albany has the second highest population (outside of New York City) of LGBTQ+ citizens in the state and celebrates this through the Capital Pride Center. Further, this strand will touch on the battle for civil and civic rights for minorities, including African Americans, women, and immigrants.
Waves of immigration in New York’s Capital are key to the region’s rich heritage and cultural diversity. This strand will explore the history of immigration from the Dutch colonists who farmed and traded beaver furs in the 1600s to the British and Scottish who became merchants and bankers in the 1700s and from the Irish, Germans and French-Canadians who built roads, bridges and buildings in the 1800s to the Italians, Poles and Eastern European Jews who labored in factories and textile mills in the 1900s. In addition, this strand will explore recent waves of refugees entering the Capital Region. Strand stops will include such locations as the Irish American Heritage Museum, the African American Cultural Center and Delaware Avenue, home to many diverse immigrant populations in Albany.
Whether women were managing farms and households in a pre-industrial Mahican tribal community, building new lives as immigrants in an Anglo-Dutch colony/nation, toiling in 19th-century factories in Albany or nearby Troy and demanding workers’ rights, or serving their country during war, this region and its rich and controversial history can be seen through women’s lives and their voices. Albany was a hub for women leaders in opposition to women’s suffrage, just as it was for those in support of the Women’s Movement. Today, Albany continues to generate diverse feminism. This tour highlights women’s experiences and accomplishments.
Albany is home to the oldest Christian congregation in Upstate New York and the second-oldest Reformed Church in America as well as the Mother churches of two Christian dioceses. This tour will lead participants through a variety of historical religious sites as well as locations to visit historical religious artifacts including The First Church, St. Peter’s Church, St. Mary’s Church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Albany Institute of History and Art, among others.
The Power of Patriotism
New York State has a long tradition of patriotism, stretching back to before the Revolutionary War. This thread will cover examples of patriotism from the 1760s through the 2000s, by visiting sights with diverse backgrounds. Participants will have the option of going forwards or backwards throught time as they walk in one of two directions. This strand includes an optional stop at the USS Slater which may require an admission fee ($9).
Albany and the surrounding area have been a center of human activity since before the first Europeans arrived. Exploring the Early Voices thread leads participants through the cultures and histories of the very earliest recorded peoples, through the rise of the Iroquois Nations, and into the beginnings of European immigration.
Environment and the Urban Landscape
Albany is situated on a steep hill at a point where the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers meet. Near its riverfront, the city is only a few feet above sea level. Studying the role of the environment and urban landscape in the city is an interesting way to understand Albany as text. The development of the city has an interesting history. Access to Albany via train, underground railroad and river is one way to explore. For instance, the Erie Canal is 195 years old this year! Further, The New York City Department of Environmental Education celebrates its 50th anniversary April with important research projects happening in and around the capital region. Treating nature with respect and preserving nature is a major tenet of the Albany 2030 plan. Participants will explore the urban development and natural beauty of the city in this strand. As part of this strand, a limited number of participants will have the opportunity to opt-in to a service project at Tivoli Lake and Nature Preserve to get a hands-on feel for how citizens of Albany connect with and care for their environment.
Truth in Agriculture
New York State is rich in agricultural history from dairy farming to maple syrup production. This thread intends to show participants how NYS has embraced the local farm-to-table movement, agricultural efficiency, and environmental/animal welfare. Schoharie county is well known for their agricultural influence and so the stops will include the Carrot Barn (a local foods retail store), and SUNY Cobleskill’s campus farm (which features dairy, livestock, meat processing, fish hatchery, and greenhouses). This thread will include transportation and is capped at 12 participants.
Unscrambling Albany’s Monuments
In this strand, participants will explore Albany’s monuments through geocaching, a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices such as smart-phones. Participants will navigate to 10 specific sets of GPS coordinates throughout Downtown Albany, finding letters at each location that can then be unscrambled to spell out something historic about the area.