Whose Extravagance?

Acting on a tip a few months ago, we contacted architect Daniel Pratt. At age 22 in 1970, he was a draftsman for the Buffalo architectural firm, James, Meadows & Howard, which designed the Legislative Office Building. Dan’s job was to draw the interior office spaces, even though many interior wall frames were already in…

Lancaster Street Hullabaloo

Many knew Mae Carlson as Albany’s rooming house queen, but I called her Mamay— Mother Mae, as I grew older. Bill Costigan, I called Dad.

Nixon in Albany, Rocky in Washington?

On September 8, 1968, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller returned to Albany, after a 3-week vacation and a summer spent campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. He ran as a liberal, during an era of urban upheaval, and (for the second time) lost the nomination to former Vice President, Richard M. Nixon, who promised “law and order.”

A Letter to Mayor Corning

On April 5, 1962 Elinor and Leo Mullen sat down to write a letter to Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2d.

The Waitress at the White House Restaurant

Two years ago, we discovered a cache of South Mall negatives at the New York State Archives. Among them were several candid portraits of people who once lived and worked in Albany’s lost 98 acres. We’ve identified some of these subjects but most remain nameless.

More about Mrs. Abarca

Readers of this blog may recall that Francisca Abarca—along with her tenants and two youngest children, Anna and Antonio—was the first South Mall-area resident to be displaced by the State.


98 Acres Media Blitz

Our blog has been quiet this summer, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!

On June 21, the 50th anniversary of the South Mall cornerstone ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the Empire State Plaza, we published an oped in the Times Union.


Roosevelt Terrace: The Community that Never Was

Once there was a plan to build a sprawling state-subsidized, mixed-income community, known as Roosevelt Terrace, alongside the South Mall Arterial and within the 98 acres seized by the State.* All that remains of that plan is a stripped-down version of the senior apartment complex, South Mall Towers on South Pearl Street.


Mrs. Levine and the Capitol Area Neighborhood Group

Elise (La Rose) Levine grew up on Jay Street. She lived at 100 Jay, between South Swan and South Hawk, with her parents, three husbands (consecutively), and many dogs. Her block of Jay Street changed dramatically over the decades.


Albany’s Rooming House Queen

Marion “Mae” Carlson was once the rooming house queen of Albany. In 1960, Knickerbocker News reporter Edward Swietnicki probably overestimated by at least 100 persons the number of adults (200) and children (250) who lived in her 21 furnished rental properties, most of them converted single-family homes a couple blocks from the Capitol.


A “Beautiful, Brilliant, Efficient, and Electrifying” Capital

The South Mall Cornerstone Ceremony, June 21, 1965, commemorated the end of demolitions that cleared 98 acres in Albany and the beginning of construction of the massive State office complex, officially known as the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza.