The Labor Leader

Our thanks to Hank Landau and his colleagues for their help with this post. 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…

You’re Fired!

Our thanks to Dean Herrick for his help with this post. 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…

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?

Our thanks to Scott Christianson for bringing this story to our attention. 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…

Gerry’s Gamble Pays Off

Our thanks to Gerry and Mary Dwileski for their help with this post. When we reached out to South Mall construction workers last year, we were surprised that the first response came from Mary Dwileski, the wife of a carpenter. Since then, we have conducted oral histories with many men who worked construction at the…

The Typewriter Guerrilla and the Billion-Dollar Hot Potato

Our thanks to Scott Christianson for his help with this post. Fresh out of college and newly married, Scott Christianson—an aspiring investigative reporter and former hometown football star (Bethlehem Central)—took a job at the Knickerbocker News in the summer of 1969. Over the course of several months, he moved up the journalistic ladder from copy…

Hardhats and the Microskirt

Elke Sommer, the German actress who played opposite Paul Newman, Peter Sellers, and James Garner in popular 1960s films, donned a microskirt and a hardhat in August, 1970, to tour the South Mall construction site.  As the “Teutonic temptress” made her way among the 2,000 ironworkers, operating engineers, cement pourers, and other construction workers, she…