Capital Region Facts

Each Friday a new fact about a region of New York State is posted to the Exploring Upstate Facebook Page. In case you haven’t been following along there, here’s what you missed!




– Seth Wheeler of Albany is credited with inventing “perforated wrapping paper”, which was so named because ‘toilet’ was kind of a dirty word back in 1871. Wipes for your butt were already being used, but they were individual squares. Wheeler was the first connect those squares and then later in 1891 even put them on a center tube for a bracket. [source]

– The potato chip was invented on August 24, 1853 in Saratoga Springs, NY when George Crum was trying to appease an irate customer who kept sending his fried potatoes back. Crum sliced them super thin, made them real crisp and dumped a bunch of salt on. Much to Crum’s surprise, the customer loved them! [source]

– Originally built in 1908 on 6 acres of land owned by Shakers, the Albany International Airport is the oldest municipal airport in the entire country.

– It was March 13th, 1852 that ‘Uncle Sam’ first appeared in a cartoon in the NY Lantern Weekly paper. The origins of Uncle Sam are undocumented, but many believe the character was inspired by Sam Wilson of Troy, NY. Wilson was an inspector of U.S. Army supplies and known by the nickname ‘Uncle Sam’.

– Before it was named Albany, the area was known as Beverwyck which means ‘beaver district’ because the beaver fur trade made so many inhabitants of the region very wealthy. [source]

– The U.S. adoption of the celebration of Santa Claus is believed to have first occurred in the Albany area. A Van Renssalaer bakery receipt from March 1675 is the first document in the U.S. to make reference to ‘Sinterklaas’. [source]

– Even with its first horse race (August 3, 1863) pre-dating the official grounds, the Saratoga Race Course is considered to be the oldest organized sporting event venue in the entire United States. [source]

– Surpassing the national average of 187,000 square feet, the Wal-mart Super Center in Albany is 260,000 square feet, making it the largest in the country. [source]

– WRGB in Schenectady claims their birthday as 1928, the year they first started with experimental broadcasts. Since they were the first to experiment with broadcasting, it makes WRGB the oldest television station in the entire world. [source]

The General Electric plant in Schenectady is so large it has its own zip code, which happens to be 12345. Each year, the plant receives thousands of letters from children assuming that such an address could only belong to Santa Claus. GE Employees take turns volunteering and respond to each of the letters. [source]

– The New York State Education Department Building in Albany has 36 columns, making it the longest colonnade in the country. [source]

– The City of Albany had one of the first underground water delivery systems in the western hemisphere. They used hollowed out tree trunks as buried water main pipes, many of which were installed in the 1700’s. [source]

– With a land area of only 0.7 square miles, Green Island (Albany County) is the smallest town in New York.