One block south of the Empire State Plaza  is the governor’s mansion (138 Eagle St.), open to the public by reserved tour only. An impressive Italianate building with a wraparound porch, the mansion dates to 1856, when it was constructed as a private residence. The state purchased the property in 1877, and each successive governor has put his stamp on it: Theodore Roosevelt built a gym, FDR sunk a pool, animal-lover Al Smith installed a zoo.
To arrange a tour of the mansion, call visitor services, Empire State Plaza (518/473-7521; tours on Thurs. 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m., Sept.–June, free). Reservations must be made two weeks in advance of the tour.