Albany is a 400-year old city with many fascinating tales of historical legends, infamous bootleggers, literary luminaries, and other "famous faces" walking the streets. Keep reading for exciting stories about the time that these "famous faces" spent in Albany. We will also highlight local spots related to these figures that you can still visit today.
Thar she blows! Did you know that Herman Melville, famed author of Moby Dick, spent part of his youth living in Albany? Unfortunately, Melville’s father died when he was 12, so it is assumed that his time in Albany was not a happy one. He briefly attended the Albany Academies, but had to quit after his family fell into financial despair after his father’s death. But, he spent several years working and living in New York's Capital City! Keep reading to discover local sites in Albany with ties to this great American novelist.
Herman’s mother, Maria Gansevoort Melville, was the daughter of General Peter Gansevoort of Albany. The Gansevoort family were pillars of the original First Dutch Reformed Church (located closer to State Street). The historic church is still open today, but now located on the corner of North Pearl and Orange Streets. All visitors have to do is ring the bell, then wander through the church to view the oldest pulpit in the United States and marvel at the Tiffany stained-glass windows.
Melville’s childhood home in Albany still stands today! It is a pink building in Clinton Square, located to the left of McGeary’s Irish Pub. Search for the historical marker situated on Orange Street between Clinton Square and North Pearl. The marker notes, "Herman Melville - author of "Moby Dick" studied and worked during formative years in Albany 1830-1838. Family home at 3 Clinton Square 1834-1838." After perusing the outside of his childhood home, swing into McGeary's to raise a pint and cheers to Melville!
Who knows? Maybe the Hudson River provided a touch of inspiration for some of Melville's future writings. Let the Hudson River inspire you on a trip to Albany! Hop in an Upstate Kayak Rental and explore the shores of the river. Pedal along the scenic paths at the Corning Preserve on a CDPHP! Cycle, Albany’s bikesharing program. Herman Melville was a sailor for part of his life, so you could also channel the spirit of Melville and jump aboard a Dutch Apple Cruise! The sightseeing cruise is a great way to see the sights and learn about the history of Albany.
Click here to start planning your Herman Melville-inspired getaway to Albany with a full itinerary.
Header Photo: (ca. 1944) Herman Melville, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left. , ca. 1944 [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://loc.gov/item/2005694855/.