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The city's skyline changed in the 1960s and 1970s with the construction of office towers around the Empire State Plaza and at the uptown campus of SUNY Albany, mainly under the direction of Governor Nelson Rockefeller.While Albany experienced a decline in its population due to urban sprawl and suburbanization, many of its historic neighborhoods were saved from destruction through the policies of Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd, the longest-serving mayor of any city in the United States.During the late 18th century and throughout most of the 19th, Albany was a center of trade and transportation.The city lies toward the north end of the navigable Hudson River, was the original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal connecting to the Great Lakes, and was home to some of the earliest railroad systems in the world.
Prosperity was soon seen all over Upstate New York.
The fur trade attracted settlers who founded a village called Beverwijck near Fort Orange.
In 1664 the English took over the Dutch settlements, renaming the city as Albany, in honor of the then Duke of Albany, the future James II of England and James VII of Scotland.
Commencement of the fur trade provoked hostility from the French colony in Canada and among the natives, all of whom vied to control the trade.
In 1618, a flood ruined the fort on Castle Island, but it was rebuilt in 1624 as Fort Orange.