Albany is the 11th largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon, and is the county seat of Linn County. It is located in the Willamette Valley at the confluence of the Calapooia River and the Willamette River in both Linn and Benton counties, just east of Corvallis and south of Salem. It is largely a farming and manufacturing city. Settlers founded the community in 1848. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population of Albany was 50,158. Its population was estimated by the Portland Research Center to be 50,710 in 2012.
Albany has a home rule charter, a council–manager government, and a full-time unelected city manager. The city provides the population with access to over 30 parks and trails, a senior center, and many cultural events such as River Rhythms and Mondays at Monteith. In addition to farming and manufacturing, the city's economy depends on retail trade, health care, and social assistance. In recent years the city has worked to revive the downtown shopping area, with help from The Central Albany Revitalization Area (CARA).
Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the area of the Willamette Valley that makes up modern day Albany was inhabited by one of the tribes of the Kalapuya, a Penutian-speaking, Native American people. The Kalapuya had named the area Takenah, a Kalapuyan word used to describe the deep pool where the Calapooia River meets the Willamette River. A variation of the place name can also be written as Tekenah.
The Kalapuya population was between 4,000 and 20,000 individuals throughout the Valley before contact with whites, but shortly after contact was made and new diseases were introduced, the tribes suffered from a smallpox epidemic that raged through the Pacific Northwest in 1782–83. This was followed by malaria sweeping through the region between 1830 and 1833. It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of the Kalapuya population died during this period. That, coupled with the treaties signed during the 1850s, left the area nearly free for Europeans to move on to the land.
In 1845, the first white settler to come to the area was a farmer from Iowa by the name of Abner Hackleman. Mr. Hackleman took up a land claim for himself and asked Hiram N. Smead to hold another land claim for him until his son arrived for the claim from Iowa, but in 1846, only a year after arriving in Oregon, Abner died while returning to Iowa to fetch his family. In 1847 a pair of brothers, Walter and Thomas Monteith, settled in the area, after traveling by ox team over the Oregon Trail from their native New York State . They were a family of early prominence in the area; in 1848, they bought the claim of , plotting out for the townsite from Hiram Smead for $400 and a horse. They named the city "Albany", after their hometown in New York. During the same period Abner Hackleman's son Abram Hackleman returned to his father's original land claim and built a log house in an oak grove still known as Hackleman's Grove. He later built the house that still stands at the corner of Fifth and Jackson. The small settlement that had formed on the Hackleman land established itself as the community of Takenah in 1849.
The Monteiths, with help from Samuel Althouse, built the first frame house in Albany the following year in 1849. The Monteith House was considered the finest house in Oregon at the time. That same year the start of the California Gold Rush had caught the attention of the Monteith brothers and lead to a successful venture to the Goldfields that provided them with the needed resources to start several businesses, such as the general store. It was the establishment of their businesses that lead to Albany becoming a major Hub City in the Willamette valley.
Albany's first school was established in 1851 by the town's first physician, R. C. Hill. The first school teacher was Eleanor B. Hackleman, wife of Abram Hackleman. It was not until 1855 that a building was specifically erected for use as a school. In 1852, the first steamboat, the Multnomah arrived and the first flour mill was built.
During 1853–1854, residents of the east side of Albany persuaded the Oregon Legislative Assembly to name both towns Takenah. Though Takenah meant deep pool in reference to where the Calapooia River meets the Willamette River, it was commonly translated to mean Hole in the Ground. Partly due to this translation, Albany was restored by the legislature in 1855. Finally in 1864, 16 years after the Monteiths founded the town and 19 years after the first European arrived, it became an incorporated city.
In 1872, the Santiam Ditch and Canal Company was organized and a canal running from the Santiam near Lebanon was completed that autumn. The canal runs from the south side of Albany and divides at the corner of Vine and Eight Streets, with one branch running down Vine Street and emptying into Calapooia Creek, with a drop of . The other runs down Eighth to Thurston Street. In 1924 Pacific Power installed a turbine where the canal meets the river. In 1984 the city bought the water system from Pacific Power and the plant was shut down in 1991. By 2003 the city had approved a plan to restart the four megawatt-hour hydroelectric plant and in February 2009 the plant opened again.
Albany was the headquarters for the Mountain States Power Company from its establishment in 1918 until its merger into Pacific Power & Light (now PacifiCorp) in 1954.
In the 1940s, the city started the Albany World Championship Timber Carnival which drew in competitors from all over the world to participate in logging skills contests. The event took place over the four days of the Fourth of July weekend. Men and women would compete in climbing, chopping, bucking, and burling contests. However, in 2001 it was canceled because of smaller crowds and the state’s declining timber economy.
In 1942, the U.S. Bureau of Mines established a research center on the former Albany College campus, focusing on the development of new metallurgical processes. First known as the Northwest Electro-development Facility, the site produced titanium and zirconium and fostered the growth of a new rare metals industry in Albany, led by internationally recognized companies like the Oregon Metallurgical Company, Oremet, and Wah Chang.
In the 1970s, Albany attempted to extend its city limits to include a zirconium processing plant of Wah Chang Corporation. Wah Chang responded in 1974 by sponsoring a vote to incorporate the desired properties as Millersburg.