Caput Mundi.

Do you know what that phrase means? Neither did I, so don't worry, because it's a Latin phrase. It means "capital of the world", and New York City is listed as an unofficial caput mundi.

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While that may be true, NYC is still not even the capital of its own state. That prestigious title sits in the Capital Region, belonging to Albany, a title that has adorned Albany since 1797.

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Being new to the Capital Region, and as far from a history major in college as a person can be, I always wondered...why?

Well, here is exactly why Albany is the capital of New York state.


Albany Was Not The First State Capital of New York

It had to have been New York City, right?

Actually, that's wrong, too. The first capital of the state of New York was Kingston, located south of Albany along the Hudson River, in the area of the Catskills.

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The World Atlas website describes Dutch settlers moving into Kingston during the early 17th century, and goes on to explain how Kingston became a safe and secure location for government leaders to meet, and for business and trade to be conducted along the Hudson.

It was in 1777, however, during the Revolutionary War, that British troops burned Kingston to the ground as a "punishment" for disobeying the British government's orders, and the status of the capital in New York state was now in flux.


Albany is Declared the State Capital in 1797

The state of New York was established on July 26, 1788. Each year, state officials would meet, first in Kingston, and then in alternating locations between New York City and Albany.

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According to Albany.org, it was in 1797 that Albany was declared the capital of New York state.


Why Was Albany Named the State Capital?

Simply put, it's the center of New York. While New York City was, is, and will continue to be the heart of culture and society, the physical location of Albany made much more sense for the title of "capital" to be applied.

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Albany is also the oldest city in the state of New York, and according to historians who have profiled the American Revolutionary War, was one of the stronger and more peaceful locations during war time.

So, while the city that never sleeps continues to be regarded as a caput mundi, it is Albany, New York, that remains at the heart of New York state.

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