Hoax or Hope?

On the evening of Saturday, July 14, 1962—just days after the first South Mall demolition—WRGB TV, Channel Six, aired a half-hour documentary called The South Mall Project: Hoax or Hope? We found what we think is the only extant copy of the documentary in the papers of Grant Van Patten at University of Albany’s Special Collections department.

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Big News!

You haven’t heard from us in awhile, in part, because we’ve been busy writing grant proposals. And we just learned that that work has paid off. We’ve been awarded an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant to begin designing a website on urban renewal in Kingston, Newburgh, and New York City–as well as Albany. This new…

“M-G-M Monumentality”

Five months after Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller unveiled plans for Albany’s new State office complex, an unsigned review in Progressive Architecture (P/A) criticized the design as suffering from “M-G-M monumentality”: Half a cantaloupe sliced on the bias, a croquet wicket with avoirdupois, an upside-down orange half from a Kraft salad, and four little towers and…

The Labor Leader

For 13 weeks in the spring and summer of 1970, 600 sheet metal workers, members of Local 83, went out on strike. All of the other unions that made up the Albany Building and Construction Trades’ Council had settled with employers before their contract expired, but the sheet metal workers’ local held out.

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Two Families, A Shared Story

The Radrizzi and Strong family stories have been intertwined for almost a century—beginning before they became neighbors and lasting long after their block of Jay St. was demolished.

Home of the Irish Potato, Part II

The first part of our story emphasized continuity: Over several decades, William F. Ryan Sr. built a produce business that his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren have carried on to this day. The second part of this story is about change.

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Home of the Irish Potato, Part I

Ryan’s Farmers Market is an Albany institution, in business for over a century and still run by the same family. In 1901, 24-year-old William Frederick (Willie) Ryan began selling produce with his brother, Jimmie.

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You’re Fired!

Of the more than 90 prime contractors and hundreds of subcontractors at the South Mall site, only one was ever fired by the State of New York: The Foster-Lipkins Corporation, builder of the Corning Tower and the Swan Street Motor Vehicle Building. The contractor’s performance on the 44-story tower was, at times, dangerous and embarrassing.

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An Alternative Plan for Albany

All over Albany recently invited us to write a brief alternative history of the South Mall. This is the real story behind that fiction.

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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…

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.

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