View Full Version : Albany

January 24th, 2004, 06:36 AM
http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?s=bc75002d550049eb7e3d2b33dfd3659d& threadid=28532

January 28th, 2004, 06:45 AM
This is one of several excellent photo threads of Albany by bpg88. I've searched for the others on SSP.com but can't find them (someone else have a go?). Other neighbourhoods covered included Washington Park, Downtown, Center Square and Mansion Hill. Similar to Brooklyn Heights/Park Slope.

March 12th, 2004, 09:34 PM
Center Hill (http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?s=e19e774c349885828dcff49ab580e3c4& threadid=34410)

TLOZ Link5
March 12th, 2004, 10:26 PM
Albany Times-Union:


High-tech hopes recall empire dreams
The renaissance expected from the emerging nanotechnology industry is but the latest in a long line of visions for the Capital Region

By PAUL GRONDAHL, Staff writer

First published: Sunday, March 9, 2003

Nelson A. Rockefeller's urban planning visionaries in New York City dreamed up a grandiose plan in 1963 for how they'd transform what they considered a woefully parochial and dowdy capital city on the Hudson.

Dubbed "The Capital Harbor,'' the scheme envisioned a stretch of the Hudson River near the Corning Preserve developed with parks, an art institute, yacht club, marina, "boatel,'' heliport, high-rise apartment towers, department stores, pedestrian promenades and restaurants.

(courtesy of UAlbany)

The Rensselaer side of the river would be built up as a mirror image on a slightly less ambitious scale.

"Residents, visitors, employees, businessmen and shoppers can stroll and enjoy the river view,'' the planners wrote in a glossy, full-color brochure touting The Capital Harbour concept.

"The Center for Creative Arts will include a school, theater and exhibition space for the entire area. A waterfront plaza, surrounding the marina, will be filled with boardwalk and commercial facilities -- restaurants, theaters, novelty shops, amusements. The boatel and yacht club will bring yachtsmen to the door of the community.''

Alas, The Capital Harbour didn't get any closer to becoming reality than Rockefeller's presidential ambitions.

One could write a book about Albany unbuilt. The dream projects that never made it into brick and mortar are legion. A sampling:

* The magnificent dome that never got built over the Capitol building.

* The soaring St. Louis-type arch that never made it into the Empire State Plaza's final design.

* Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd's idea for a "moving sidewalk'' to convey shoppers up and down State Street hill never got past the conceptual stage.

* A recurring proposal to bury Interstate 787 to improve access to the Hudson River never got off the ground.

* A drawing for a 60,000-seat sports stadium in a supersized University at Albany campus design submitted by architect Edward Durrell Stone.

* A magnetic levitation ("maglev'') train that would streak 300 mph a few inches above the ground on a metal guideway between Rensselaer and New York City.

"Looking over the past 100 years, it's a tragedy that we lost some ideas,'' said Jack McEneny, a state assemblyman and author of a book on Albany history. "And when it comes to others, I think we were mercifully spared.''

Some of the doomed development plans were of the region's own making.

A fiercely insular Democratic political machine, led by boss Dan O'Connell and Corning, blocked urban renewal proposals in the 1960s, for instance, because they couldn't control federal money.

"In retrospect, we're lucky we didn't get an awful lot of those urban renewal projects, which would have torn down our historic buildings and replaced them with modern high-rise apartments,'' McEneny said.

Despite some of his blueprints that never got off the drawing board, Rockefeller was Albany's master builder of the 20th century. He left his signature modernistic style -- sharp angles, geometric forms and acres of white marble -- across Albany's built landscape through monumental developments stretching from the Empire State Plaza to the University at Albany's uptown campus.

"The history of Albany is littered with great megalomaniacs who came here and approached the capital as if it were their own blank slate upon which they could build their dreams,'' said Ray Bromley, professor of planning at the University at Albany.

The building sprees these giants undertook left a mixed bag for the region. Albany and its environs have more monumental buildings and a larger highway and interstate system than any city of comparable size in the United States, according to Bromley. But, Bromley said, they also left terribly sterile and isolated complexes of government such as the State Office Campus.

"The State Office Campus is a caricature and absurdly overbuilt for what it is,'' Bromley said.

Bromley and other planners considered the legacy of the megalomaniacal builders -- governors Rockefeller, Thomas Dewey and W. Averell Harriman chief among them -- in a conference last fall titled "Monumental Visions & Urban Transformations, 1948-1978.''

Now, Bromley and other planners are contemplating whether the city's emerging nanotechnology sector -- led by Sematech and Tokyo Electron -- will eventually become as monumental and transformational as past large-scale developments in the city.

"We'd have to get over the attitudinal problem first,'' Bromley said. "We'll have to break down the entrenched municipalities and powerful NIMBY (not in my backyard) forces. The local culture is also very pessimistic, and there's a tendency to bear grudges.''

What Bromley called "the name problem'' is symbolic of that identity conundrum. Over the years, the region has been referred to as Metroland, the Tri-City Area, the Capital District and now the Capital Region -- with Tech Valley, the Hudson River Greenway, Education Way and other specialty sectors.

John Logan, a distinguished professor of sociology and public policy and director of the Lewis Mumford Center at the University at Albany, said the larger, long-term demographic trends of the region outweigh any development project.

"I don't think specific projects have as much impact as the larger trends in Albany of population loss and a shift in its class and racial composition,'' Logan said.

In 1830, Albany's population of 24,209 made it the ninth largest in America. By 1880, Albany had fallen to 21st largest with a population of 90,758. At its peak population of nearly 140,000 in 1950, Albany had dropped to No. 65.

Today, it has fallen to roughly 190th place.

"I think that slide is due to the early part of this century, when the political machine failed to reinvent itself and reinvest,'' Logan said. "Other cities grew during this period, but Albany just plummeted.''

Perhaps the single largest transformation in the Capital Region in the past century was the creation of Empire State Plaza. It was the largest government complex in the country when it was dedicated by Rockefeller. On one hand, the buildings housed 16,000 state workers. But it also displaced thousands of downtown residents and razed hundreds of structures to make room for a 98-acre hole dug in the heart of the city.

One of those residents displaced by the Plaza is John Currier, now a state employee, who grew up at 252 Madison Ave., where the State Museum is located today. Currier's family lived in a fourth-floor apartment; his grandparents, Rosario Munafo and Carmello "Joe'' Munafo, ran a grocery store and meat shop on the street level and lived upstairs. An uncle occupied another floor. They were part of a largely Italian-American enclave along lower Madison Avenue now occupied by the Plaza.

Currier's relatives had lived at 252 Madison Ave. since the early part of the century. They were moved out in the mid-1960s -- as Currier was entering high school -- after the state took the property by eminent domain.

"My grandmother was devastated because she'd lived there for 60 years, and she was in her late 80s when the state took it,'' said Currier.

Currier's memory of his old neighborhood stands in stark contrast to the slum described by Rockefeller: "It was a great neighborhood, very family-oriented, working-class. We'd all sit out on our stoops and you knew everybody,'' Currier said.

His favorite boyhood haunt was the soda fountain and candy counter at Hunter's drugstore at the corner of Hawk and Madison. It was torn down, too. Another distant memory is the peddler the kids called "the Clam Man,'' who sold clams from a cart up and down Madison in the summer.

"They basically built over my childhood,'' Currier said. "I can't go back to anything I remember from growing up.''

If high-tech does take hold in the coming years, the natural area for any kind of computer chip manufacturing facility to expand is the State Office Campus adjacent to UAlbany and the Sematech building.

Dedicated in 1958 by Harriman, the state government complex was built over what had been mainly farmland. The project had been begun by Gov. Thomas Dewey, a fierce enemy of the Albany Democratic machine.

"Building the State Office Campus on farmland on the outskirts of the city was a direct challenge to the machine,'' Bromley said.

The sterile, bland architecture of the buildings reflects Dewey's purpose. "The State Office Campus is symbolic of how Dewey wanted to take government away from the corrupt Democrats and have the state run by tidy Republicans from the suburbs,'' Bromley said.

When Rockefeller came to power in Albany, he immediately shifted gears. He wanted to abandon the suburban state government growth and return it to the city's urban center.

In 1960, Rockefeller halted further construction on the State Office Campus; that same year, Rockefeller had the state acquire the site of the Albany Country Club for the UAlbany campus. In 1961, he directed his lieutenant governor, Malcolm Wilson, to oversee the planning for Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany.

"It was a very powerful combination of a megalomaniac governor with a lot of money and no controls -- like public hearings and environmental impact statements -- to stop him from doing what he felt like,'' McEneny said. "Today, if there is a transforming development with high-tech, it wouldn't happen like that. The public would have much more input.''

But McEneny does have some reservations about expecting high-tech private industry -- if it does invest here in a significant way -- to remain loyal to the Capital Region.

"The lesson is that once the state government built the Empire State Plaza, it would be too embarrassing to walk away and just leave it empty,'' McEneny said. "That's a comfort to know that state government is going to be around for the long run.''

"On the other hand, the private sector doesn't have to worry about saving face. They can take a walk and leave town if somebody gives them a better deal in another state, or offshore.''

Virginia Bowers, Albany's historian, who grew up in the South End and has lived her entire seven decades in the city, believes that high-tech might be a transforming industry.

"If everybody gets on the same page, it could really revitalize the city,'' Bowers said. "We can't think of our cities as relics of the past that we can tear down or ignore. I believe in cities. They're our past and our future.''

June 27th, 2004, 03:15 PM
http://www.timesunion.com/specialreports/centralave/graphics/main.jpg (http://www.timesunion.com/specialreports/centralave/firstmile/index.asp)