Rocky’s South Mall Tour

In May 1962—as Democrats scrambled to find a candidate to run against him in November—New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller arrived in the Capital District for a whirlwind pre-election tour. Over the course of three days, he shook hands, slapped backs, signed autographs, and even danced with the queen of the Senior Citizens Ball.

Rocky’s first stop was a Kiwanis Club luncheon, where he explained to civic and business leaders how he intended to transform Albany into “the brilliant diamond in a golden triangle formed by the tri-cities,” starting with the South Mall. The governor also announced plans for a new recreational, residential, and commercial development, “Harbor City,” straddling the banks of the Hudson River in Albany and Rensselaer.

The following day—after inspecting the new crosstown arterial and before lunching with Japanese dignitaries—Rocky climbed out of his limousine and on to the streets of downtown Albany.

Hemstead 3 with Rocky
Elinore Hemstead with the governor and Housing Commissioner James Gaynor.

Elinore Hemstead, founder of the Center Square Association and active in Republican politics, escorted the governor and his entourage from her home at 209 Lancaster, across Lark to Chestnut Street, where they admired the recent renovations. From there, the group headed into the South Mall redevelopment area, along S. Swan and down Hudson Avenue—past the Catholic Union, First Methodist Church, and many taverns.

An unidentified man whispers in the governor's ear.
An unidentified man whispers in the governor’s ear.

At the corner of Hudson and Grand, near the public market, a crowd of about 200 waited. Some simply wanted to see the governor. Others hoped to speak with him about the State’s plan for their neighborhood. One man asked the governor for a drink. Rocky deflected the request, smiled, shook the man’s hand, and walked on.

Note: All photographs in this post used by permission of the Times Union.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Goodness, he’s so young there. In the photo to the left, is that once Vice President Spiro Agnew behind Rockefeller? Or just someone who resembles him?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see the resemblance, but I think it must be an Agnew look-alike.


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