Monday, June 25, 2012

Erastus Corning Tower

I've mentioned Albany's Corning Tower a few times, so I thought I'd do a little post about it. The tower is the primary office building in Albany's Empire State Plaza, an office and cultural complex designed in the Modernist style. Completed in 1966, nearly ten years before work ended on the larger complex, the building was known simply as the Tower Building.

Looking up from the base of Corning Tower with a telephoto lens.

In 1983, the tower was dedicated to Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd, who died that year. Corning was mayor of Albany for forty years. His great grandfather, Erastus Corning I, founded the New York Central Railroad (he was a big railroad mogul) and the town of Corning, New York, home of the famous glass manufacturer.

Corning Tower seen from across the Hudson River.

The building has forty-four floors, with an observation deck on the forty-second. I think the two floors above the observation deck are machine rooms and don't contain any offices. The rest of the building serves as offices for two state departments: Health and General Services.

It's not what you think; he's reading a newspaper. At the base of the tower on the plaza level.

Corning Tower has the distinction of being the tallest building in the state of New York, outside of New York City. I also read that it's the tallest building between New York City and Cleveland, Ohio, although I wonder about that one. In any case, it's certainly the tallest building in Albany and it dominates the skyline.

Weather instruments, communications antennae, and traffic cameras are installed on the roof.

The tower sits prominently on the eastern edge of the plaza. Behind it, four identical (to each other) twenty-three story towers (creatively named Agency Buildings 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively) mimic the taller tower's shape. They are all clad in white Vermont marble and glass. You can see all five towers in this shot from earlier in this series.

The base of the tower (just to the left of center) sits on a six-story platform, the roof of which is the exterior plaza that connects all the buildings. Inside the platform are parking garages, machine rooms, offices, a convention hall, and an interior pedestrian concourse.

I never worked in Corning Tower, but my first job as a state employee was as a clerk for the state's Insurance Department on the seventh floor of Agency Building 1. I loved working in the plaza; in fact I chose that first job because of the location. I had been offered jobs at other state agencies, but they weren't in spiffy downtown office buildings and that's where I wanted to work.

Inside the observation deck, view looking north.


  1. Great pictures of Albany. In 1948, when I passed through going to the Adirondacks, nothing of this existed. Time flies, indeed!

  2. Beautiful building ! "Bravo" for the pictures !

    Franck, my son, has just rented a 50m2 studio in Montreal, it's on the... 25th floor, I will have to get used to it, don't know if I'll enjoy resting on the balcony and wonder if Joe, the cat, will get used to the flat...

    Franck will be taking care of his cat and Balou, "his" brother, for a fortnight when Alex, one of his ex-roommates, Balou's master, is away on holiday :-) !!! If Joe doesn't like living in the flat, Alex will take "him" back to the flat where Franck lived for a year with his 4 ex-roommates ... Bises

  3. You must get some really great views from the observation deck!

  4. That observation deck is pretty cool. It's very Mad men! I think I'd more interested in that than looking out the window.

  5. chm, I would like to have known the city then!

    mary, wow! I've never lived in a high-rise.

    starman, you've been seeing some of them!

    mark, I've never seen Mad Men, but the place was designed in the late 50's and built in the early 60s, so it fits right into the time period.

  6. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.


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