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Assembly Chamber, New York State Capitol, c. 1900

N.Y. Albany. State Capitol. Assembly Chamber
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_AlS3
Document Description
Interior view of the Assembly Chamber in the New York State Capitol. Designed by Leopold Eidlitz, the Assembly Chamber is the largest room in the Capitol and was the first of the main rooms to be completed, c. 1900.
What is this room used for?
Why is this room so large?
Which room is bigger, the Assembly Chamber or the Senate Chamber? Why?
There is a gallery in this room. Draw an arrow to the gallery. What is it used for?
How has this room changed from the time this photograph was taken?
From examining this photograph, why do you think the construction of the Capitol was so expensive and time-consuming?
What factors does an architect have to consider when creating a room like this today that the architects didn't have to worry about when this room was built?
What is the job description of the Assembly?
How many members are in the New York Assembly?
Historical Challenges
Who is the New York State Assembly Speaker? Find five facts about this person.
Name a New York State Assemblymember who later became President of the United States.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many yards high was the Assembly Chamber's original ceiling? How many inches?
Science: How do arches and columns support a building?
English Language Arts: Write a letter to the Assembly Speaker on a teacher-approved topic of your choice.
Art: Following instructions on page 73-74 of the Capitol Tour Program Resource Kit, have students design a classroom.
Kennedy, William. The Capitol in Albany. New York: Aperture, 1986. ISBN: 0893812099
Roseberry, Cecil R. Capitol Story. Albany: New York State Office of General Services, 1982.
Thrane, Susan W., and Tom Patterson. State Houses: America's 50 State Capitol Buildings. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 2005. ISBN: 1550464574

Historical Context
Although construction of the New York Capitol Building would continue for another twenty years, the State Assembly met in the new Assembly Chamber in 1879. Designed by Leopold Eidlitz, it was the first major room to be used in the Capitol. The Assembly Chamber is the largest room in the Capitol and originally featured a vaulted ceiling fifty-six feet high. Within just a couple of years, however, the ceiling began to crack, leaving dust and pieces of rock on the desks and floor of the room. Although the architect tried to repair the beautiful ceiling, it could not be saved.  A commission examining the ceiling found it so dangerous that it recommended the room be evacuated immediately.  A new, wooden ceiling was constructed in 1888. Unfortunately, the new ceiling was significantly lower than the original and hid two beautiful murals by artist William Morris Hunt on the walls above.
Essential Question
How is architecture influenced by a society's values and culture?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and determine the influence of culture on the design.