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Albany has been a center of higher education for over a century, with much of the remainder of its economy dependent on state government and health care services.
It was settled by Dutch colonists who in 1614, built Fort Nassau for fur trading and Fort Orange in 1624.
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.
In the early 21st century, Albany has experienced growth in the high-technology industry, with great strides in the nanotechnology sector.
Beginning in 1810, Albany was one of the ten most populous cities in the United States, a distinction it held until the 1860 census.
Albany is one of the first cities in the world to have installed public water mains, sewer lines, natural gas lines and electricity, infrastructure and utilities that attracted and supported substantial new industry to the city and surrounding area during the 19th century.
Its charter is possibly the longest-running instrument of municipal government in the Western Hemisphere.