Despite its status as the center of legislative power in the state, Albany (or ‘Smallbany’ to jaded locals) remains a tourism backwater. It became New York State’s capital in 1797 because of its geographic centrality to local colonies and its strategic importance in the fur trade. The railroad reached town in 1851 and helped solidify the city as an important transportation crossroads and manufacturing center. Albany is an architecturally diverse city, from the ostentatiously modern to the classically Victorian, but several blocks from the city center stately government buildings give way to derelict and neglected streets and a general feeling of malaise. Lark Street (www.larkstreet.org), north and uphill of downtown, has several restaurants and bars popular with university students when school is in session.