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.


King Rockefeller’s “Camelot on the Hudson”

In honor of the Legislative Correspondents’ Association annual show tomorrow night, we thought we’d set the scene for an earlier show, the association’s 71st in 1971. The play that year was a Camelot spoof, starring the A.P.’s Charles Dumas as King Laughsalot Rockefeller and Charles Holcomb of Gannett News as T. Merlin Hurd, the king’s…

“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…

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.”


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.


Rocky’s South Mall Tour

In May 1962—as Democrats scrambled to find a candidate to run against him in November—New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller arrived in the Capital District for a whirlwind pre-election tour.


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.


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.


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.


The First—and Second—South Mall Demolition

On the morning of July 11, 1962—after months of delay due to the City’s lawsuit—the State of New York began demolishing South Mall properties posthaste. The first demolition was a press event.