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Senate Chamber, New York State Capitol, Albany, c. 1900

N.Y. Albany. State Capitol. Senate Chamber from S. E. Corner
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_AlS43
Document Description
The Senate Chamber at the New York State Capitol, circa 1900.
What is this room used for?
What elements make this a good room for the Senate to meet?
There is a gallery in this room. Draw an arrow to the gallery. What is it used for?
From examining this photograph, why do you think the construction of the Capitol was so expensive and time-consuming?
This room was restored to its original appearance in the late 1970s. In what ways is this room still different than it was in 1881?
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 Senate?
The 1865 guidelines for this room stated that it had to be big enough for thirty-two senators. How many senators are in the New York State Legislature today? How does this affect the room?
Which room is bigger, the Assembly Chamber or the Senate Chamber? Why?
Historical Challenges
The Senate Chamber has two large fireplaces. What are they nicknamed, and why are they called that?
Materials from many countries were used in the Senate Chamber. On a blank map of the world, label these countries and draw an arrow from each country to New York. Write the name of the material that came from each country on the appropriate arrow.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: The Senate Chamber measures approximately 60 feet long, 55 feet wide, and 50 feet high. What is the room's volume?
Science: What are acoustics? Explore what factors affect acoustics. Discover which rooms in your school have the best acoustics.
English Language Arts: Write a letter to your state senator about a current issue that concerns you.
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 would continue for another eighteen years on the New York Capitol Building, the State Senate Chamber was completed and occupied in 1881. Architect Henry H. Richardson designed the room to have perfect acoustics, allowing the senators to easily hear each other when they debate. Called by many "the most beautiful room in the United States," the Senate Chamber features hand-carved ceilings, embossed gold leaf on the upper walls, mammoth fireplaces, and the finest building materials from around the world.
Essential Question
How is architecture influence 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.