The Empire State Plaza, looking south with the capitol at my back.
For me it's a little like recording events in a journal. I can look back on what I did and not have to wonder if my memory is fuzzy (which it is). The pictures provide a record of what we did and when. Of course, not everything is in these pictures, but they help jog the memory just the same.
The Egg, home to two beautiful theaters. I wish I could have gone inside to take photos.
Long-time readers will recognize these photos of the Empire State Plaza. It was the brainchild of then- governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, who, as the story goes, was embarrassed by the capital city when he hosted the visit of then-Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands in the 1950s. He ordered that the decaying slums south of the capitol be demolished and replaced by a gleaming, modern complex of state offices and public spaces.
Corning Tower, the tallest building in New York State outside of New York City.
Building this was a bold move. The architectural style contrasts with everything around it. It's big. In your face. Winter winds make the outdoor plaza unusable six months of the year; there's a large underground concourse the length of the plaza that provides access to all the buildings and the parking garages. The concourse includes banks, restaurants, and other services in addition to a substantial collection of modern art paintings and sculptures.
Corning Tower on the left, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the center, trees on the right.
Many people bemoan the loss of the old building stock that was demolished to make way for the plaza, as well as the displacement of the thousands of people living there at the time. But the reality is that the neighborhood was suffering blight as were many urban neighborhoods of that era. Suburbanization and "white flight" left the poorer residents to fend for themselves in a decaying neighborhood with dwindling services.
A glimpse of the imposing Cultural Education Center, home to the New York State Museum.
Right or wrong, the politics and the "urban renewal" movement of the time came together to remake this section of Albany. It has not been wildly successful, and the ten-year construction turmoil did as much to destroy downtown business as suburbanization did. But there is life downtown, and every time I go back I see more evidence of it. On this trip I saw a new condominium project under construction in the old theater district, right next to a brand new hotel building. And more and more of the city's old townhouses are being restored. That's a good thing.