Albany's City Hall is the magnificent center of local government. Designed by famed architect Henry Hobson Richardson, the construction of City Hall was completed in 1883. Albany City Hall has been acclaimed by critics as one of the most beautiful buildings in America and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Those who are privileged to work here on a daily basis hope you will share their pride in the history and accomplishments of generations of Albanians. Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to visit Albany's City Hall and experience it's unique culture first hand.
The architect, H.H. Richardson, included in his design a magnificent tower standing 202 feet tall, crowned by a 50 square-foot chamber opened to the city below. William Gorham Rice first suggested a carillon for Albany in 1918, as a monument to the soldiers who had given their lives in World War I. A campaign to raise money for the carillon began in 1926 and within a few months over 25,000 citizens had contributed $45,000. The John Taylor Company of Loughborough, England was awarded the contract to build the carillon.
The nine-year project culminated in September 1927, when Jef Denyn of Belgium played the opening recital on the first municipal carillon in the United States. During Albany's Tricentennial in 1986, the carillon was restored and enlarged.
Most other carillons are owned by churches or universities. The Albany carillon was created as a part of a municipal building and thus is one of the few that is owned by a government, making it truly a people's carillon. It is also one of just 116 concert class carillons in the United States. Its 49 bells range in size from 11,200 pounds to just 27 pounds. Each metal bell creates its own distinct sound.
The carillonneur, the musician playing the carillon, sits in an enclosed room just below the bells. By manipulating a keyboard of wooden handles, the carillonneur selects which bells will be rung in what order and with what speed and intensity. The musician may ring out popular tunes that have been adapted for the carillon, or may play one of the many pieces that have been written expressly for this fine and historic instrument.
Albany is lucky to be home to several resident carillonneurs and to host guest artists throughout its concert season.
The best place to listen to the carillon is just behind City Hall in Corning Park or in front of City Hall in Academy Park.
- Visit the Albany Carillon website