100 Years Ago Today Hundreds Of Thousands Of New York History Documents Were Destroyed

03.28.11 | Sarah Harnisch

100 years ago tomorrow, the state capitol building in Albany, New York, burned down. The fire started in the Assembly library -- a building that was just 12 years old on March 29th, 1911. It quickly spread down the hall to the New York State library. It was fueled by towering shelves jammed with books, and cabinets filled with hundreds of thousands of documents. Many of them were centuries old. It took several days before firefighters could finally douse the flames. One man died, and an untold wealth of new york's history and heritage went up in flames. It's estimated that about 500 thousand books, 300 thousand manuscripts, and 85-hundred craftworks were destroyed. Among some of the important documents saved: the original manuscript of George Washington's farewell address and an original Emancipation Proclamation, written in Abraham Lincoln's own hand. New York is marking the capitol fire with an exhibit in Albany, a documentary film, a new book, and public lectures by state librarians and historians. If you want to see photos of the damage done, go here or here.