Set along the Hudson River, New York's prosperous capital shines with the collective dazzle of its austere-looking government buildings and esteemed colleges and universities. The longest continually chartered city in the United States, Albany's original cultural heritage was shaped by indigenous Americans who called the city home, before the Dutch settled here in 1614. From then on, the city was carved out by an arsenal of landmarks that ranged from early colonial structures to glorious examples of late American modern architecture. Downtown Albany, the city's oldest district is also its main commercial and financial hub, and is dominated by the legendary Empire State Plaza, a maze filled with governmental offices built between 1965 and 1978. Of these, the historic splendor of the New York State Capitol and the dizzying magnificence of the Erastus Corning Tower are the most iconic. The city that unfolds outside of the plaza is a fair mix of university campuses, leafy residential neighborhoods, museums and shopping avenues. Albany is also the gateway to the unparalleled beauty of the Adirondacks Mountains that lie to its north.
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