On the morning of March 27, 1962, thousands of families learned that the State of New York had appropriated their homes and businesses in downtown Albany via eminent domain. In their place would be built a massive modern office complex, the Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, named for the man who envisioned transforming “historic but shabby” Albany into a “brilliant, beautiful, efficient and electrifying capital.”

IMG_6567 close up w model
Courtesy of the New York State Archives.

Within the 98 acres seized by the state lived a diverse population of roughly 7,000 people, old and young, black and white, immigrant and native-born. Among them were renters, roomers, and homeowners. They were served by more than 400 businesses, most of them small—neighborhood groceries, grills, taverns, tailors, and shoemakers. Over the course of two-and-a-half years, as the State demolished 1,150 structures to clear 40 city blocks, residents and businesses were forced to move out. In their wake, an army of architects, contractors, and construction workers moved in.

4 1970
Used by permission of the Times Union.

Drawing on government documents, oral histories, and local reporting, this blog tells the stories of the 98 acres seized by the State, before demolition and during redevelopment. It is the rough draft for a book and part of a larger project, exploring how urban renewal changed one American city.

In combination with the book, we plan to use GIS software to digitally reconstruct and repopulate Albany’s lost 98 acres. A preview of this work will soon be available. Stay tuned!


Project Members:

Ann Pfau

David Hochfelder, University at Albany

Stacy Sewell, St. Thomas Aquinas College

Christopher Rees, University at Albany

Mike Wren, State of New York

Andrew Lang


Note: Header image of Albany in the spring of 1965 used by permission of the Times Union.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Have you seen a photo of the Club Diner that was at 128 Hudson?


    1. Hi Michael,

      I can’t find a 1962 city directory listing for 128 Hudson or the Club Diner. Was it still around at that time?


  2. I’d like feature this project in a story for our newspaper. Please contact me as soon as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael,

      We’re happy to speak with you. We sent you an email at your hotmail address.

      98 Acres


  3. Paul Sponable says:

    I have a scrap book of newspaper clipping about the south end of Albany that was started by my great grandparents in the early 1900’s. It contains birth and death notices, news of the politics of the city in those times and other reverent news of the south end of Albany.
    I would like to make it available for this project if you are interested.
    Also, I am a product of the southend and towards the end of the demolition had the 98 acres as a Times Union paper route.
    Please contact me at my email address if you are interested.
    Thank you,


  4. What a fascinating project! I totally look forward to following this blog and learning more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. We’ve enjoyed reading Yayyay’s Kitchen blog, http://yayyayskitchen.com

      98 Acres in Albany

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome and thank you for the link!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. quiall says:

    Thank you so much for following my blog. I glanced through your blog, it is quite an impressive endeavour.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. moragfgardner says:

    Hi I love your blog and I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award


    1. Thanks for reading our blog! We appreciate the nomination.


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