Capital of the Empire

My last customer was located in the capital of New York State, which you probably thought was New York City. Wrong! It’s a small city 3 hours north of there called Albany. It’s actually pretty common here in the US that the state capital is not the biggest city and this is true for 33 of the 50 states. Weird. Apparently there was a deliberate effort to keep the capitals central for proximity and security reasons.

Even though Albany is small, I was surprised to see that the accent and attitude of these New Yorkers was quite similar to the ones in NYC. People were still quite assertive, crossed the streets wherever they wanted, and spoke with that rough, assured accent that I’ve become so familiar with. I think they’d get on fine in the big city.

Talking to the locals revealed to me a slight inferiority complex about NYC. They constantly reminded me that New York was a state, not just a city and they always used the name “New York” to refer to the state, not the city. Just to ruffle their feathers, I continued calling my home city “New York”, because I’m such a nice guy.

As far as being the capital of the Empire State, Albany certainly looked the part. The Empire State Plaza was large, fancy, and full of fountains and marble. The downtown area had luscious parks, grand buildings and a number of statues and monuments. The main street reminded me of a restored European city, like old architecture that had more recently been rebuilt and cleaned. It was clearly a government city as nearly every person I spoke to, or heard chatting in pubs, seemed to work for one public department or another. There was a good variety of pubs and restaurants too, and I made a concerted effort to sample many of them.

I’ve often wondered about the nickname ‘Empire State’. The origin is not known for certain. Why empire? There’s no king here ruling over multiple countries. I guess the states were all independent once, though, and they’re still much more autonomous than states/provinces in other countries. As the Empire State, clearly New York has self-proclaimed themselves the head of this empire. Again … that New York attitude.


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