Empire State Plaza

Empire State Plaza

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Empire State Plaza

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The Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza (known commonly as the Empire State Plaza and less formally as the South Mall) is a complex of several state government buildings in downtown Albany, New York.

The complex was built between 1959 and 1976 at a total cost of $1.7 billion. It houses several departments of the New York State administration, and is integrated with the old New York State Capitol, completed during 1899, which houses the state legislature.


The plaza was the idea of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was inspired to create the new government complex after Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Albany for a celebration of the area's Dutch history. Riding with the princess through a section of the city known colloquially as the Gut, Rockefeller was embarrassed and said later, "there's no question that the city did not look as I think the Princess thought it was going to."

Rockefeller conceived the basic design of the complex with architect Wallace Harrison in flight aboard the governor's private plane. Rockefeller doodled his ideas in pen on the back of a postcard, and Harrison revised them. They used the vast scope and style of Brasilia, Versailles and Chandigarh as models. The massive scale was designed to be appreciated from across the river as the dominant feature of the Albany skyline.

Paying for the construction...
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