The Oldest Town in New York Is 162 Years Older Than America Itself

Written by Jennifer Geer
Updated: August 14, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Albany is the oldest town that is located in the state of New York.
  • Albany was founded in 1614 making it the oldest city.
  • The town was originally founded In 1614, the area was established as a Dutch beaver trading post called Beverwijck.
Albany, located in New York, is recognized as the state’s oldest town, initially established as a Dutch beaver trading post named Beverwijck in 1614.

When hearing “New York,” most people think of the thriving metropolis of New York City. However, there is a lot more to New York than “the city that never sleeps.” 

Upstate New York is a diverse area and home to big cities, small charming towns, mountains, and scenic countryside. It’s also home to the oldest town in New York, which happens to be the state capital.

The Oldest Town in New York

Albany, New York, USA at the New York State Capitol.

Albany is the state capital of New York.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1614, Albany is the oldest town in New York. It’s older even than Boston or New York City. Today, the city of Albany has a population of 99,224, while the surrounding area, Albany County, has a population of more than 300,000. 

Albany, known for its commerce, culture, universities, architecture, and rich history, has museums, historic attractions, and picturesque parks.

History of Albany

When Henry Hudson arrived in 1609, the area was inhabited by Haudenosaunee (Iroquois.) In 1614, the area was established as a Dutch beaver trading post named Beverwijck (which translates to “beaver district”. When the Dutch ceded control to the British in 1674, the city was renamed Albany in honor of a British duke.

Albany was the site of many significant events in the American Revolution. British loyalists and prisoners of war were held captive there. Ben Franklin presented his proposal to unite the 13 colonies in Albany. Philip Schuyler, Revolutionary War general, U.S. Senator, and father-in-law to founding father Alexander Hamilton, also resided in Albany. Today, visitors can tour the Schuyler Mansion, a historic museum house built by Schuyler between 1761 and 1765.

In 1797, Albany became New York’s permanent capital. And by 1825, the Erie Canal connected Albany to the Great Lakes, which contributed to its development as a leading industrial center in the North.

Aside from being America’s oldest continuous settlement, Albany is home to some other firsts

  • The first passenger railroad, the Mohawk and Hudson River Railroad, ran 11 miles from Albany to Schenectady.
  • The invention of perforated toilet paper.
  • The origin of the phrase, “baker’s dozen,” can be traced back to a bakery in Albany.
  • The oldest pulpit in America, carved in Holland in 1656, now sits in Dutch First Reformed Church in Albany.

Where to Find Albany on the Map

Albany pin map. Close up of Albany map with red pin. Map with red pin point of Albany in USA, New York.

Albany, the capital of New York, is located on the west bank of the Hudson River.

©PredragLasica/Shutterstock.com

Albany is about 152 miles north of New York City and is located on the west bank of the Hudson River. Although it’s over 90 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the Hudson River becomes navigable by ocean-faring vessels at the Port of Albany, connecting the city to the Atlantic.

The 315-mile-long river flows north to south, connecting Eastern New York to the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor. Its source comes from the Adirondack Mountains. The river allowed for easy transport of goods from the interior of New York to the coast, making Albany a hub of productivity during the Industrial Revolution. And once the Erie Canal was completed, Albany was also connected to the Midwest through the Great Lakes.

Wildlife You’ll Find in Albany

North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) eating Alaska

The beaver is New York’s official state mammal.

©Frank Fichtmueller/Shutterstock.com

Situated in upstate New York, Albany is home to a diverse amount of wildlife. Its location on the Hudson River and within the Adirondack Mountains brings a variety of animals to the area.

Albany shares its history with the state mammal, the beaver, as the city was first named “Beaver District” by the Dutch. The largest animal you may spot around Albany is the moose, however, moose sightings are rare in New York. Other animals living around the area include coyotessnakeswolvesbobcats, and many others.

North American black bears may wander into yards, surprising homeowners, to feed on bird seed and raid garbage cans. Deer may also show up in gardens, munching on tree bark, shrubs, and other landscaping. Smaller mammals found near Albany include squirrelsmoleschipmunksfield miceopossums, and skunks.

Birds in Albany

Most Dangerous Birds

The beautiful snowy owl can be spotted around Albany.

©Jim Cumming/Shutterstock.com

Bird watchers have a diverse amount of birds commonly found in the area including:

What’s Living in the Hudson River?

An American eel in the glass life stage is one of five life stages for the eel.

©jack perks/Shutterstock.com

The Hudson River is an estuary, a unique habitat where fresh and saltwater mix. Although rare, you may find an Atlantic Sturgeon swimming through the Hudson. Other creatures living in the river include crabs, the invasive round goby, and American (glass) eels

Sadly, the invasive zebra mussel has been overtaking the native freshwater mussel, which used to be plentiful in the river.

Although you won’t see it as east as Albany these days, humpback whales once roamed up and down the Hudson River. Today, an occasional sighting of a humpback whale may occur in the river closer to the New York Harbor.

Where is Albany Located on a Map?

Albany is not only the oldest city in New York, but it is also the capital of the state. The seat of Albany County is located on the west bank along the Hudson River. The town is full of cultural and natural history.

Here is Albany on a map:

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Jennifer Geer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on animals, news topics, travel, and weather. Jennifer holds a Master's Degree from the University of Tulsa, and she has been researching and writing about news topics and animals for over four years. A resident of Illinois, Jennifer enjoys hiking, gardening, and caring for her three pugs.

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