Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY
The city and state have gone through great lengths to prop up downtown Albany. One example of this is the Egg (above), a performance arts center with two theaters inside. Making it a fine example of government at its best, work on the project began in 1966 and it took twelve years to finish. I imagine that unions were involved.
The wonderful complex has an interesting Genesis:
The plaza, in all its architectural wonder, was born from embarrassment.Next door to the plaza is the state capitol building, the office of the state legislature and some of the 11,000 state workers in the area. It's a fantastic and enormous building.
When Rockefeller hosted Princess Beatrix of Holland in 1959, he was ashamed for her to see the deplorable condition of the city as they made their way to the executive mansion. He decided to create a capital center that reflected the importance of New York state, with much-needed space for government offices amid a dazzling display of architecture.
Started in 1965 and completed in 1978 at a cost of $1.7 billion, the plaza was designed by architect Wallace Harrison, who was chief architect for Rockefeller Center in New York City, the U.N. Building and the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.
The Egg was supposedly conceived when Rockefeller, described by scholars as a “frustrated architect, held a grapefruit half over a container of cream and told Harrison the plaza ‘needed something like that.’ ”
Unfortunately, it seems that Albany needs to do more to keep the downtown city together. Most of the people that work there leave for the suburbs to live and there does not seem to be much to do in the area.
When I asked some of the locals what I should do while in Albany, most of them said "I don't know, nothing really." One suggested I go to the mall.
Upstate New York, especially the capitol, really deserves better.