One of the more significant street corners in American History is the intersection in Albany where Broadway meets Hudson Avenue. This is the site of the old Stadt Huys where in 1754 representatives from several colonies met to discuss the Albany Plan of Union. This group, known as the Albany Congress, consisted of a few famous men from the time, but the most famous of all was Benjamin Franklin.
Coincidently this site, 23 years later, was also the location where the Declaration of Independence was first read in public. Albany was a critical hub during both events. In 1754 Albany was the edge of the wilderness. In 1776 Albany was the center of the Northern Army’s efforts to repel the British Army, which was attempting to cut New England off from the rest of the colonies by seizing control of the Hudson River.
Reading the Declaration of Independence in Albany had a galvanizing effect on the people who heard it. Remember, Albany was under siege from all sides in the summer of 1776. The British had swept over Long Island and Manhattan, and occupied New Jersey downstream. They had just taken control of Lake Champlain to the north – a critical highway for troop movement from Canada. And the Iroquois were allied with the British just to the west. Albany was in a precarious position on July 19th when the Declaration was read.