The Albany area includes six counties, the cities of Troy and Schenectady and the historic Saratoga Springs area to the north. An assortment of commercial and state government activities support this state capital. Downtown Albany area is modern with a number of historic sites and an attractive waterfront. Suburbs are fairly nondescript. There is an assortment of mostly small arts and cultural amenities throughout the metropolitan area. Schenectady is an older industrial center known once for producing railroad locomotives and known past and present as a major center for the General Electric Company.
The economy has been in a slump for years, and the population is declining. Downtown Schenectady has benefited from a large renewal investment and has become a minor entertainment destination. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy brings some college-town flavor to that city. The cost of living is moderately high for what’s available, though not as high as the urban areas to the south.
The city of Albany is located on a gently rolling valley floor on the west bank of the Hudson River, 8 miles south of the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. The area’s elevation rises from sea level at the Hudson to 1,500 feet, 11 miles west of Albany. East of the Hudson, the terrain rises more sharply into the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. The Atlantic Ocean has some influence on the primarily continental climate. In warmer seasons, temperatures rise sharply by day, but fall rapidly after sunset; nights are relatively cool. Periods of oppressive heat occasionally extend a week or more.
Winters are cold and sometimes severe with lows frequently below 10 degrees. Most precipitation comes from summer thunderstorms; almost 6 feet of snow falls each winter. Because it is farther from the ocean and the Great Lakes, Albany tends to get more sunshine than other places in the state. First freeze is end of September, last is early May.