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In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the New York State Capitol at Albany. By sunset, the entire western portion of the building had sustained extensive structural damage. Within lay the entire collection of the New York State Library, almost completely reduced to ashes. Founded in 1818, this had been one of the finest research libraries in the country and home to innumerable manuscript and printed rarities. In a particularly bitter irony, the fire struck as the overcrowded library was four months away from moving into new, spacious quarters under construction across the street. Miraculously there was only one fatality, an elderly watchman, Samuel Abbott, whose body was not recovered until several days later. Images of America: The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 includes recently discovered photographs documenting the construction of the building, beginning in 1867, as well as eyewitness accounts of its destruction.
About the Author
For the centennial of the fire, coauthors Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, of the New York State Library, have culled rare images and documents from the special collections of the modern library, which arose from the ashes of the 1911 fire.
Table of Contents
1 "Chateau on a Hill": The Construction of the Capitol 9
2 "Records, Books, Papers, and Other Things": Building a State Library 21
3 "Terrible to Look Upon": The Capitol in Flames 31
4 "Some Stained or Blackened Remnants": Salvage and Restoration 71
5 "We Are Inexpressibly Shocked": Reactions to the Fire 91
6 "The Dream of Dr. Draper": The Education Building and the State Library 101
7 "Perched Upon the Highest Hill": Building for the Future 117
About the New York State Library 126