Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (3)

The south side of Independence Hall, seen from Independence Square around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

This view is similar to the one in a previous post, but this one shows the scene horizontally from a little further back, revealing more of the surrounding buildings near Independence Hall. As discussed in that post and another one, Independence Hall was the site of some of the country’s most important events in the years during and immediately after the American Revolution.

Independence Hall was completed in 1753 as the meeting place of the Pennsylvania colonial legislature, but at the start of the American Revolution it took on a second role as the de facto national capitol. The Second Continental Congress convened here on May 10, 1775, less than a month after the start of the war. The delegates met in the Assembly Room on the first floor of the building, which is located directly to the right of the tower in this scene. The building is most famous for the fact that the Declaration of Independence was voted on and signed here during the summer of 1776, but the building continued to be used by the Continental Congress throughout the Revolution, aside from two interruptions during British occupations of Philadelphia.

Congress finally left Philadelphia in June 1783, after a mob of about 400 soldiers descended upon the building, demanding payment for their wartime service. The state of Pennsylvania refused to deploy its militia to protect Congress, so the delegates left the city on June 21, and reconvened nine days later at Nassau Hall in Princeton, which became the first of several temporary national capitols over the next two years. Independence Hall would never again serve as the federal capitol building, but it nonetheless played another important role in 1787, when delegates from 12 of the 13 states met here for the Constitutional Convention. The result of this four-month convention was the current United States Constitution, which was signed here on September 17, 1787.

In the meantime, Independence Hall continued to serve as the seat of the state government. The federal government also returned to Philadelphia, although not to Independence Hall. Instead, two newer and smaller buildings were constructed, flanking Independence Hall. On the west side, barely visible on the extreme left side of the photos, is Congress Hall. This was the national capitol building from 1790 until 1800, with the House of Representatives occupying the large chamber on the first floor, and the Senate in a smaller chamber on the upper floor. On the opposite side of Independence Hall, on the extreme right side of the photos, is the Old City Hall. On the exterior, it is essentially identical to Congress Hall, and it was originally built to house the city government. However, during the 1790s it was also occupied by the Supreme Court, which had its courtroom on the ground floor.

The state government ultimately left Philadelphia in 1799 and moved to a more central location in Lancaster. Then, a year later, the federal government moved to Washington D.C., despite the best efforts by Philadelphians to retain the city’s status as the capital. No longer needed for governmental purposes, Independence Hall was threatened by demolition during the early 19th century. By this point the original wooden steeple was already gone, having been removed in 1781 and replaced by a low roof. Then, in 1812 the original wings on either side of Independence Hall were demolished, although the rest of the building was spared a similar fate after the city purchased it from the state in 1816.

It often takes many years before the significance of historic buildings is recognized, and in many cases this comes too late. For Independence Hall, though, it seems that its significance was widely understood by the 1820s. It was around this time that it came to be known as Independence Hall, rather than as the State House, and in 1825 the public square here in the foreground was formally named Independence Square. Three years later, a new steeple was constructed based on the plans of the original one, and it still stands atop the tower today.

By the time the first photo was taken around 1905, this scene had undergone further changes. Most significantly, the buildings that had replaced the old wings in 1812 were demolished in 1898, and new wings were constructed as replicas of the originals. Another change would come two years after the photo was taken, when the statue of Commodore John Barry was installed here in Independence Square, as shown in the 2019 photo.

Today, more than a century after the first photo was taken, Independence Hall still looks essentially the same. Both Congress Hall and the Old City Hall have also been preserved, and all three of these buildings are now part of the Independence National Historical Park. However, one notable difference in this scene from the first photo is the row of buildings beyond Independence Hall on the other side of Chestnut Street. All of these buildings, along with two more entire blocks further to the north, were demolished in the mid-20th century in an effort to improve the aesthetics of the area surrounding Independence Hall. However, in an example of historic buildings not being recognized until they are gone, the project included the removal of the remnants of the old President’s House, where George Washington and John Adams had lived during the 1790s. This site, at the corner of Sixth and Market Streets, is now marked by a partial reconstruction of some of the house’s architectural elements.

Congress Hall and Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Congress Hall and Independence Hall, seen from the corner of Chestnut and Sixth Streets in Philadelphia, around 1859. Image courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia, Frederick De Bourg Richards Photograph Collection.

The scene in 2019:

These two photos show the south side of Chestnut Street, between Sixth and Fifth Streets. This block contains three historic 18th century government buildings, each of which played an important role in the early history of the United States. In the center of this scene is Independence Hall, Philadelphia’s most famous historic landmark, which served as the meeting place of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. It is flanked on either side by two nearly identical buildings, both of which were occupied by the federal government in the late 18th century. In the foreground, to the west of Independence Hall, is Congress Hall, and to the east is the Old City Hall, which once housed the United States Supreme Court.

Independence Hall was completed in 1753, and it was originally used as the colonial capitol building of Pennsylvania. However, because of Philadelphia’s central location relative to the northern and southern colonies, it took on a second role during the American Revolution. Aside from several short interruptions during British occupations, the Continental Congress met here from 1775 until 1783, and it was during this time that the delegates approved and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Congress left Philadelphia in 1783, but the building continued to be used by the state government. Then, during the summer of 1787, the Constitutional Convention met here to draft and sign the United States Constitution, which was ratified a year later.

At the time of the convention, New York City was the national capital, but in 1790 the federal government returned to Philadelphia, which would serve as the capital city for ten years while Washington D.C. was being developed. Rather than sharing Independence Hall with the state government, the federal government moved into its own buildings here. Congress Hall, shown in the foreground of these two photos, became the capitol building, with a chamber on the first floor for the House of Representatives, and a smaller one upstairs for the Senate. However, the building is noticeably smaller and more modest than the adjacent Independence Hall, providing an interesting visual contrast between the perceived importance of the state and federal governments during the nation’s early years.

Congress Hall was overshadowed by Independence Hall, both physically and also in terms of its historical significance. Nevertheless, a number of important events occurred here at Congress Hall. George Washington was inaugurated here at the start of his second term, as was John Adams four years later, and the Bill of Rights was formally added to the Constitution here in 1791. It was also here that Congress passed many important bills that would shape the future of the country, including legislation that established the First Bank of the United States, the Post Office, and the Navy.

On the far side of Independence Hall, at the corner of Fifth Street, is the Old City Hall. Its exterior is nearly identical to Congress Hall, and it was completed in 1791. It served as Philadelphia’s city hall until 1854, but it was also occupied by the United States Supreme Court from 1791 until 1800. The court held its sessions on the first floor during this period, with the city council meeting on the second floor. The first case in the history of the court, West v. Barnes, was argued here on August 2, 1791, and the court issued a unanimous decision the following day. Overall, though, the Supreme Court had a relatively minor role in the federal government in these early years, and the court decided few significant cases here in Philadelphia.

Both the state and federal governments left Philadelphia at the end of the 18th century, with the state capital moving to Lancaster in 1799 and the national capital to Washington a year later. Independence Hall faced threats of demolition in the early 19th century, and the building’s original wings were razed and replaced with new buildings, which are partially visible in the first photo. However, the main part of Independence Hall was ultimately preserved, and by the time the first photo was taken in the late 1850s it had become a major symbol of the American Revolution.

In the meantime, City Hall was occupied by the municipal government until 1854, and for many years Congress Hall served as the county courthouse. Both of these buildings were restored around the turn of the 20th century, and Congress Hall was rededicated in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson. Around this same time, the 1812 wings of Independence Hall were replaced by replicas of the original wings. Since then, this scene has not changed very much in its appearance, and all three buildings are now part of the Independence National Historical Park, which was established in 1948.

Old Post Office, Albany, New York

Looking north on Broadway from the corner of State Street in Albany, with the post office building in the foreground on the right, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

Albany’s old post office building, which is shown here in the foreground of both photos, stands at the northeast corner of Broadway and State Street, only a few hundred yards west of the Hudson River. The building opened in 1883, and it housed the post office along with several other federal offices. It has changed use since then, but it survives as an important architectural landmark here in downtown Albany.

Prior to the construction of this building, there was no federal building in Albany, so the post office and other federal agencies operated out of rented spaces. Congress finally authorized the construction of a federal building in 1872, but work on the building did not actually begin for another seven years because of funding delays. The design also changed during this time. The original plans called for a High Victorian Gothic design, but James G. Hill, the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, subsequently redesigned it to feature Renaissance Revival architecture.

The building’s cornerstone was laid in 1879, and it was ready for occupancy by December 1883, when the internal revenue office moved in. The post office opened here on the ground floor of the building in January 1884, and the other federal agencies moved in later in the year. These included the United States Customs Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, and the United States Signal Service. The latter agency, whose duties involved weather observations and forecasts, occupied the third floor and the large tower at the corner of the building. In addition, the building featured a courtroom that was used by both the United States Circuit Court and the District Court.

The first photo was taken just after the turn of the century, about 20 years after the building was completed. There are no automobiles in this photo, although within just a few years they would become ubiquitous here on the streets. In the meantime, though, all of the vehicles in this scene are horse-drawn wagons, with the exception of the electric trolley in the lower left corner. There are a number of pedestrians on the wide sidewalk in front of the post office, including a man using crutches, and above them the street is crisscrossed by a web of electrical, telephone, and trolley wires.

This building continued to serve its original purpose until 1934, when a new federal courthouse, post office, and custom house opened immediately to the north of here on Broadway. Visible on the left side of the present-day photo, this newer building features an Art Deco exterior that was designed by the local firm of Gander, Gander & Gander. The post office moved out of that building in 1995, but it continues to be used as a federal district courthouse for the Northern District of New York, in addition to housing offices for federal law enforcement agencies.

As for the older post office here in the foreground, it remained in use as a federal office building until 1972. Then, in 1977 it was sold to the State University of New York, which had recently acquired the adjacent Delaware & Hudson Railroad Company Building. The two buildings are now connected, and they now form the SUNY Plaza, which serves as the headquarters of the SUNY system. Both buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and then in 2020 the newer federal courthouse—now named the James T. Foley Courthouse—was also added to the National Register. In addition, all three buildings are contributing properties in the extensive Downtown Albany Historic District, which was established in 1980.

City Hall, Albany, New York

City Hall on Eagle Street in Albany, around the 1860s or 1870s. Image from Albany Chronicles (1906).

The scene around 1900, with a new City Hall. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

City Hall in 2019:

Albany is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and over the years its municipal government has occupied several different buildings, starting with the Stadt Huys in the 17th century. Dutch for city hall, this name—and building— survived long after the English took control of the former Dutch colony. A new Stadt Huys was built in 1740, and it remained in use until the early 19th century. It also temporarily functioned as the state capitol, from 1797 until Albany’s first purpose-built capitol was completed in 1809.

The city government followed the state government to the new building, and for several decades it served as both the state capitol and as city hall. However, its small size soon became inadequate for the two governments, and in 1832 the city built a new City Hall nearby, on the east side of Eagle Street roughly diagonal to the capitol. The building, which is shown in the first photo here, was designed by prominent local architect Philip Hooker. The exterior was built of white marble, and it featured a Greek Revival design, with Ionic columns supporting the pediment above the front entrance and a dome at the top of the building. It was one of Hooker’s last commissions, and was completed just four years before his death. Over the course of his long career he designed a number of important buildings in Albany, including the First Church, the 1809 capitol, and the Albany Academy, which stands across the street from here.

This City Hall remained in use for nearly a half century, but it was ultimately destroyed in a fire on February 10, 1880. The city subsequently hired famed architect Henry H. Richardson to build a new City Hall here on the same spot. Richardson was, at the time, also involved in the construction of the new state capitol building. He was one of several architects who worked on the capitol over the span of 31 years, and its final design reflected this mix of styles. However, his design for City Hall was entirely his own, and it stands as an excellent example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style that he pioneered.

Thanks to Richardson’s influence, Romanesque architecture was popular for public buildings during the 1880s, and City Hall includes many of the style’s typical features. These include narrow windows, rounded arches above the windows and entryway, asymmetrical facades with a tower in the corner, and a rusticated exterior with contrasting light and dark-colored stones. The majority of City Hall’s exterior is granite from Milford, Massachusetts, and the trim is brownstone from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, which was one of Richardson’s preferred building materials. Overall, the most distinctive feature of city hall is the 202-foot tower, which rises above the southwest corner of the building. Although Romanesque in its appearance, some architectural historians have viewed the tower as an early hint of modern architecture, with its emphasis on vertical lines.

The new building was completed in 1883, and it is shown in the second photo a few decades later, around the turn of the 20th century. The photo was taken from the grounds of the recently-finished state capitol, presumably from one of the walkways, since the sign in the foreground warns pedestrians to keep off the grass. On the far left side of the photo is State Hall, a state office building that was built in 1842. It is also visible in the first photo, and its Greek Revival design echoes that of the old City Hall. On the far right side of the photo, opposite Maiden Lane (now Corning Place), is a four-story brick commercial block that was likely built around the 1860s or 1870s.

Today, more than a century after the second photo was taken, very little has changed in this scene. City Hall is still standing with few exterior alterations, and it is still in use by the city government. From this angle, perhaps the only noticeable difference is near the top of the tower, where clock faces were added around the 1920s. The neighboring buildings on either side of the photo are also still standing today, although State Hall was extensively renovated in the early 20th century and is now occupied by the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state. Because of their historical and architectural significance, both this building and City Hall were added to the National Register of Historic Places, in 1971 and 1972 respectively.

New York State Executive Mansion, Albany, New York

The Executive Mansion on Eagle Street in Albany, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

This house underwent several different transformations during the 19th century, but the original structure was built in 1856 as the home of businessman Thomas Olcott, the longtime president of Mechanics and Farmers Bank. At the time, it was a comparatively modest Italianate-style house, but it was extensively remodeled in the 1860s by its second owner, Robert L. Johnson. He added Second Empire-style details to the exterior, including a Mansard roof, bay windows, and a tower on one corner.

In 1875, toward the end of Johnson’s ownership, the house was rented by Governor Samuel J. Tilden, who worked a half mile away from here at the old state capitol. Tilden served as governor for two years, from 1875 to 1876, and he was also the Democratic nominee for president in the highly controversial 1876 election. Tilden won the popular vote, but the results from four states were contested. All of these states were ultimately awarded to his Republican challenger, Rutherford B. Hayes, giving him 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184. To this day, Tilden remains the only presidential candidate to lose despite receiving an outright majority of the popular vote.

Tilden retired from politics after the election, and his successor here in Albany was Lucius Robinson. In 1877, during Robinson’s time as governor, the state purchased this house from Johnson and established it as the official residence of the governor. Then, in the mid-1880s, the state hired architect Isaac G. Perry to renovate the house. At the time, Perry was also supervising the construction of the new capitol, and his work here at the Executive Mansion involved an expansion of the house and a complete redesign of the exterior. The project was finished around 1887, giving the house a Queen Anne-style design that rendered it nearly unrecognizable from its previous appearances. The first photo, which was taken around the turn of the century, shows the exterior view of the house after this remodeling.

In the meantime, the house was occupied by several other notable governors during the late 19th century. From 1883 to 1884, just prior to Perry’s renovations, it was the home of Grover Cleveland. Like Tilden, he also ran for president while serving as governor, and he received the Democratic nomination in 1884. He proved more successful in the general election, though, defeating James G. Blaine to become president. Cleveland lost the following election in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, but he won again in 1892 and served for another four years. In the process, he became the only president to serve non-consecutive terms, and he was also the only Democrat to be elected president in the half-century span between James Buchanan and Woodrow Wilson.

From 1895 to 1896, the executive mansion was occupied by Levi P. Morton, who had previously served as vice president under Benjamin Harrison. He was dropped from the ticket for Harrison’s unsuccessful bid for re-election in 1892, but this apparently did not hurt his political career, because he was elected governor of New York two years later. As a result, he is the only former vice president to hold a statewide elected office after the end of his vice presidency.

Morton was the first in a line of six consecutive Republican governors who were elected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among these, the most famous was Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1899 to 1900. A native of New York City, Roosevelt had previously been to Albany as a state legislator in the early 1880s. He left politics soon after the death of his first wife Alice in 1884, and he went on to have a successful career as a writer, with most of his books focusing on either American history or hunting.

Roosevelt would continue writing for the rest of his life, but did not stay out of politics for very long. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York in 1886, where he finished a distant third in the general election, but he was subsequently appointed to the United States Civil Service Commission. From 1895 to 1897 he served as president of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners, and then he spent a year as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before resigning to join the famous Rough Riders regiment during the Spanish-American War.

Returning to New York as a war hero, Roosevelt easily received the Republican nomination for governor in 1898. He defeated Democrat Augustus Van Wyck in the general election, and began his term as governor on January 1, 1899. When he had last held elected office here in Albany 14 years earlier, he had been a 26-year-old widower with an infant daughter. Now, at the age of 40, he was remarried to his second wife Edith, and they had five more children, the youngest of whom was just a year old.

On his first night as governor, Roosevelt stayed out too late, and when he finally returned to the Executive Mansion he found that the servants, assuming he was already in bed, had locked the doors. Rather than awaken his family, he decided to break into the house by climbing through a window. Many years later, Roosevelt biographer Edmund Morris would use this incident as a way of foreshadowing the disruptive effect that the new governor would have on state politics, particularly in his clashes with Thomas C. Platt, a state senator and boss of the state’s Republican Party.

As it turned out, Roosevelt’s political opponents here in New York would inadvertently advance his career, and less than three years after crawling through the window here in Albany he would find himself living in the White House. Resolving to rid New York of the controversial Roosevelt, Senator Platt had suggested him as William McKinley’s vice presidential candidate for the 1900 election. At the time, it did not seem to be a particularly risky move; no former vice president had gone on to be elected president since Martin Van Buren in 1836, and Platt hoped that Roosevelt would fade into political obscurity just as almost every other vice president had done.

The McKinley-Roosevelt ticket went on to an easy victory against Democrat William Jennings Bryan, and Roosevelt was sworn in as vice president on March 4, 1901, just two months after his term as governor ended. Unfortunately for Platt and his wing of the Republican Party, McKinley was shot by an assassin on September 6, 1901, and died a week later. Roosevelt then assumed the presidency, and was subsequently elected to a second term in 1904.

After Roosevelt, the next New York governor to run for president was Charles Evans Hughes, a New York City attorney who served as governor here in Albany from 1907 to 1910. He resigned near the end of his second term when William Howard Taft appointed him to the United States Supreme Court, and Hughes served as an associate justice until 1916, when he resigned after receiving the Republican nomination for president. However, he lost the election to incumbent Woodrow Wilson, whose razor-thin margin of less than 4,000 votes in California determined the election. The loss cost Hughes his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, but he continued to have a successful political career, serving as Secretary of State in the Harding and Coolidge administrations before being reappointed to the Supreme Court in 1930, this time as chief justice.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, serving as governor of New York continued to be a major stepping stone to the presidency. In 19 presidential elections between 1876 and 1948, 13 of them featured a sitting or former New York governor at the head of at least one of the major party tickets. After Hughes’s loss in 1916, the next was Al Smith, who was governor from 1919 to 1920, and 1923-1928. He challenged Herbert Hoover in the 1928 election, but lost in a landslide, failing to even win his home state.

Smith’s successor as governor, who was also the next Democratic candidate for president, was somewhat more successful in presidential elections. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had previously run for vice president in 1920, served as governor here for four years, from 1929 to 1932. During this time, the Executive Mansion underwent some modifications to accommodate his disability, including the installation of wheelchair ramps and an elevator. In addition, the greenhouse was transformed into a pool, as Roosevelt believed that the therapeutic value of swimming in hot water would improve his condition.

Roosevelt’s first term as governor coincided with the start of the Great Depression, and he became a leading supporter of progressive policies at the federal level. His re-election in 1930 established him as a major presidential contender, although as the 1932 Democratic convention approached he faced opposition from here in his home state. Al Smith, a more conservative Democrat, hoped to block Roosevelt and gain the nomination instead, but the convention ultimately choose Roosevelt, who went on to win all but six states in the general election, defeating a very unpopular Herbert Hoover.

Roosevelt would go on to win an unprecedented four presidential elections, serving throughout the rest of the Great Depression and almost all of World War II. None of these elections were particularly close, but his most successful challenger, in terms of both the popular and electoral votes, was a fellow governor of New York, Thomas Dewey. He had been elected governor in 1942, becoming the first Republican to win the office since Nathan L. Miller in 1920, and two years later he ran against Roosevelt, receiving 99 electoral votes and nearly 46% of the popular vote.

Dewey was the Republican nominee again in 1948, when the Chicago Tribune famously but erroneously declared that he defeated Truman. Although most experts projected that he would win the election, he ended up earning a lower percentage of the popular vote than he had in 1944, and carried just 16 states. However, these two presidential losses did not hurt his career here in Albany, and he served as governor until 1954. His 12 years as governor were, at the time, the longest in the state’s history since George Clinton served 18 years from 1777 to 1795.

Since Dewey, no other New York governors have been nominated for president. However, several of his successors have gained national prominence, perhaps most notably Nelson Rockefeller. He was the grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, and he was first elected governor in 1958. He would go on to be re-elected three more times, surpassing the length of Dewey’s tenure, and he still remains the state’s longest-serving governor since Clinton. Rockefeller served here in Albany until 1973, when he resigned to join the Commission on Critical Choices for Americans. A year later, he was appointed vice president under Gerald Ford, after Ford assumed the presidency in the wake of Nixon’s resignation. He went on to serve as vice president until the end of Ford’s term in 1977.

During Rockefeller’s many years as governor here, the capitol area underwent a dramatic transformation. Most notably, this involved the construction of Empire State Plaza, a massive complex of government buildings that extends westward from the Capitol to the rear of the Executive Mansion. The mansion itself also saw changes during this time. In 1961, only two years into his time as governor, the mansion was heavily damaged by a fire. Some called for it to be demolished or for the state to purchase a new house elsewhere in the city, but Rockefeller preferred to preserve the fire-damaged building, and it was subsequently restored and, in 1971, added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In recent years, not all of New York’s governors have spent much time actually living here in the Executive Mansion, but it remains the state’s official residence of the governor. Today, the trees in the foreground hide most of the house from this angle, and the grounds now have much more security than when the first photo was taken at the turn of the 20th century. However, the exterior appearance of the house still looks much the same as it did back then, and it stands as one of the most important historic buildings in Albany, due to its association with so many of the most influential American politicians of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

State Street from Broadway, Albany, New York

Looking west on State Street from near the corner of State Street and Broadway in Albany, around 1902-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

This scene is very similar to the one in the previous post, except these photos were taken a couple blocks further to the east, at the corner of State Street and Broadway. From here State Street, is visible for a quarter mile in the distance as it rises up the hill toward the New York State Capitol. This stretch of road is at the center of downtown Albany, and it has been the site of many historic buildings over the years.

When the first photo was taken, the buildings on the right side of this scene consisted of a mix of late 19th century commercial buildings, most of which were between four and six stories in height. The one outlier here was the nine-story Ten Eyck Hotel, which was built in 1899 and stands in the distance near the center of the first photo.

The buildings in the first photo were occupied by a mix of different businesses. Starting in the foreground, these included the Albany Hardware and Iron Company in the two buildings on the far right, and the Union Trust Company in the ornate light-colored building to the left of it. Further up State Street, the ground floor of the six-story building was occupied by the Cluett & Sons piano store on the right and the William M. Stetson stationery store on the left. Beyond that building, the next two housed a Western Union telegraph office and the Commerce Insurance Company.

Today, more than a century after the photo was taken, hardly any of these buildings are still standing on this side of State Street. The former site of Albany Hardware is now a 12-story office building at 41 State Street, and beyond it most of the other historic buildings on this block were demolished in the mid-19th century to create a surface-level parking lot.

Further in the distance, on the other side of James Street, the 16-story New York State Bank building dominates the center of the present-day scene. It was built in 1927, replacing a much smaller 1804 bank building that is barely visible in the distance of the first photo. However, the facade of the old bank was preserved, and it was incorporated into the State Street side of the new structure.

Beyond the New York State Bank, the next section of State Street has also been completely rebuilt since the first photo was taken. The Ten Eyck, which included a 17-story addition that was built in the 1910s, was demolished in the early 1970s, and the other nearby historic buildings were also gone by this point. In their place is a modern office building at the corner of North Pearl Street, and a Hilton at the corner of Lodge Street.

The only part of this scene that has not undergone dramatic change is near the top of the hill, where both the capitol and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church still stand, along with a row of historic commercial buildings. Closer to the foreground, though, there is only one surviving 19th century building along the entire stretch of State Street between Broadway and St. Peter’s Church. It is a small building, partially hidden by trees in the 2019 photo, but it stands at the corner of James Street. It was built in the mid-1870s for the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, with a Gothic exterior that was designed by prominent architect Russell Sturgis. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is the turret at the corner, which is partially visible in both photos. However, the east side of the building, which faces the parking lot, is a windowless, unadorned brick wall, a reminder that it was once part of a long row of adjoining buildings.