Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Quick History Lesson

Albany is dotted with plaques and signs and markers which, if passers-by actually notice and stop to read them, give brief lessons about the City's long history.

This plaque is fixed to the exterior wall of City Hall, just inches from the sundial I previously blogged about. Dedicated in 1924 as part of a commemoration of the tricentennial of the first permanent Dutch settlements in Albany, it gives a short summary of the City's earliest days as a remote trading outpost on the shores on the Hudson River and lists some of Albany's earliest names...Fort Nassau, Fort Orange, Rensselaerwyck, The Fuyck, Beverwyck, and Williamstadt.

The family names of the citizens who sponsored this plaque also read like a local history lesson...Van Rensselaer, Vrooman, Pruyn, Lansing.

One of them was Harriet Langdon Pruyn Rice and I highly recommend her sister's memoir, An Albany Girlhood by Huybertie Lansing Pruyn Hamlin. It lacks literary polish, but it is an enthusiastic and detailed account of upper-class Albany life during the late 1800s and Alice P. Kenney's end-notes are full of historic information to flesh out Huybertie's recollections.

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