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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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…

Return of the Queen

Everyone in Albany knows the story of Princess Beatrix’s 1959 visit to our city. It has become an origin story of sorts, representing the end of an era and the beginning of a “new Albany.”

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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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Gerry’s Gamble Pays Off

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 South Mall and have come to realize that this first contact was not so strange.

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Man-on-the-Street Interviews, March 27, 1962

On March 27, 1962—the day news of the state appropriation became public—Knick News reporters Kurt Wachenheim and Edward Swietnicki walked the streets of Albany’s 98 acres to gauge public opinion. What they found was a mix of “elation, indifference, disappointment, and hope.” As a group, small business owners were particularly upset by the news. The…

What Happened to Albany’s Arch of Freedom?

When plans for the Empire State Plaza were unveiled in April 1963—more than a year after the State of New York appropriated Albany’s 98 acres—one of its most dramatic features was a 336-foot-high arch.

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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.

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The Mystery of the Missing Model

More than a year after appropriating 98.5 acres—and 9 months after demolitions began—the State of New York finally unveiled two scale models embodying plans for a futuristic office complex in a revitalized Albany.

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