Items tagged with 'ESP'

Chilling the ESP

The Empire State Plaza at 50 exhibit at the State Museum includes a handful of videos about the plaza's creation and inner workings. And it looks like many of those videos are posted online.

Here's one we thought this one was interesting -- it's about the massive chilling system for the plaza, which relies on water pumped from the Hudson River and power from the steam generation plant over in Sheridan Hollow. The system cools 10 million square feet of space at the ESP. The plant could theoretically cool about 9,000 homes, according to the video.

By the way: The water in the reflecting pools at the ESP is also from the Hudson River.

(Thanks, Rafael)

Who lived in the neighborhood knocked down for the Empire State Plaza?

98Acres 204 State

Sarah Stapleton, a nurse and Irish immigrant, once lived and worked with her doctor husband and sons in this elegant State Street home. Here's more of her story.

By Ann Pfau and David Hochfelder

Testifying before the Senate on September 25, 1974, former New York State Governor and then-vice presidential nominee Nelson A. Rockefeller made at least two demonstrably false statements about the 98-acre area demolished for what was then called the South Mall and is now known as the Empire State Plaza. (Our thanks to Jack McEneny for bringing this testimony to our attention.)

First, Rockefeller declared that that the area "was one of the worst slums in the United States," asserting that it suffered from a distressingly high rate of infant mortality. Second, he estimated the area's population to be 9,000 persons.

In fact, these 40 blocks were home to a diverse population of 7,000 persons. And it was not one big "slum."

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Albany on a different scale

empire state plaza model

We stopped by the State Museum this week to see the new exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of Empire State Plaza.

The exhibit includes photos, renderings, and art related to the plaza's construction. And it's not a large exhibit, so it only takes about 10 minutes to go through. If you're like us, you might leave wanting a bit more. But there are events in September that maybe will fill in some of the gaps.

Anyway, out in the lobby of the museum is the large model that was used by the Rockefeller administration to illustrate the plan. (Albany Archives added some context and discussion this week.) We probably could have stood there for a half hour easy looking at all the little details.

A plan for the state to remake a part of downtown Albany -- before the Empire State Plaza

1911 plan for area around Capitol in Albany

The Empire State Plaza and its history are getting a lot of attention this summer because it's the 50th anniversary of the official cornerstone being laid for the ESP (the exact anniversary was this past Sunday). And even in non-round number years, the ESP gets a lot of attention in discussions about the history, architecture, and planning of downtown Albany. Because of course.

But here's something new to us -- Albany Archives pointed it out to us this week -- so maybe it will be to you, too: There was was a proposed plan for the state to remake the area near the Capitol in Albany that pre-dated the ESP -- by more than 50 years. And the plan helps add some context for how things actually did turn out.

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Defending the architecture of the ESP

ESP from library

In a T Magazine* feature -- "Seven Leading Architects Defend the World's Most Hated Buildings" -- Annabelle Selldorf defends the Empire State Plaza. A clip lifted from the middle of her (short) defense:

I know that others find it too brutal or forbidding, but I think it's beautiful in its monumentality and starkness. Monumentality always suggests supreme power, and that's scary. I somehow think that if you could populate the Plaza with more gardens, and make it feel more part of everyday life -- which they've tried to do with farmers' markets and using the basin for ice skating -- then it wouldn't feel so hostile.

Two decades ago apparently there was an idea floating about to to convert one of the ESP's reflecting pools into a large lawn -- we posted it about it on AOA last year, and it got a mixed reaction from people. We were thinking about that again during a recent evening walk on the ESP. The reflecting pools do have a grandeur about them, but maybe they're also part of what makes the space feel cold to people.

[via @scottpwaldman]

Earlier on AOA: Loving -- and hating -- the Empire State Plaza

* It's a NYT magazine, but not the NYT Mag.

The Empire State Plaza at 50

Empire State Plaza under construction 1968

A photo from the New York State Archives of the ESP under construction in 1968. (It's from a slide show at that first link below, which includes a bunch of interesting archival photos.)

This summer will be the 50th anniversary of the official corner stone being placed for the Empire State Plaza, and there's a series of events an exhibitions lined up to commemorate the anniversary.

The State Museum will open a new exhibit -- "The Empire State Plaza at 50" -- in June. Blurbage:

Scheduled to open on June 21, 2015 and run through January 17, 2016, this special exhibit will tell the story of the Plaza's construction and evolution. Located in the main lobby and west corridor of the museum, it will include art, photographs, digital displays, original sketches by architects, and examples of the architectural elements that make up the Plaza and where they came from. Visitors to the exhibit will discover how such a massive complex is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, what the "Rule of 30" is and how it was incorporated into the design of the Plaza, and hear the stories of those who worked on the project.

The ESP is a remarkable, interesting, and unavoidable subject in this area's history. We hope the exhibit, and related events, examine and highlight not just its grandeur, but also its complications and tradeoffs.

Here's a condensed schedule of other events planned for the commemoration:

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Roosevelt Terrace

roosevelt terrace blueprint ACHOR via 98 Acres in AlbanyOver at 98 Acres in Albany there's an interesting post about an element of the greater Empire State Plaza project that never came about: Roosevelt Terrace, which was intended to be a mixed-income residential development. A clip:

Once there was a plan to build a sprawling state-subsidized, mixed-income community, known as Roosevelt Terrace, alongside the South Mall Arterial and within the 98 acres seized by the State.* All that remains of that plan is a stripped-down version of the senior apartment complex, South Mall Towers on South Pearl Street.
Roosevelt Terrace was intended as an answer (albeit belated and partial) to the critical shortage of middle- and low-income housing in Albany. Its design would complement the State's massive new office complex. Having displaced roughly 3,600 households, those office buildings and the attendant demolitions were a major cause of the city's housing crisis. ...
Landscape played a key role in the design of Roosevelt Terrace. Situated on ten acres and surrounded by grass and trees, the eight reddish-brown brick apartment buildings were to be connected by a series of outdoor sitting areas and playgrounds, designed to promote sociability or to facilitate quiet contemplation. Special features of the housing complex included an amphitheater, fountains and statues, an outdoor basketball court with sideline seating, and a community center with full kitchen facilities. Cars were banished below the surface in two underground parking garages.

In an alternate history way it's interesting to think about how the inclusion of more housing might have influenced the direction of that part of the city in the decades since -- and how it might be viewed today. Would downtown Albany be more residential now? And as high-rise subsidized housing has fallen out of favor in recent decades, would there now be talk about changing Roosevelt Terrace?

Earlier on AOA:
+ 98 Acres in Albany
+ Albany, in an alternate future
+ Maybe there wasn't enough money for a spaceship

image: ACHOR via 98 Acres in Albany

Downtown Albany, before and after

Institute for for Quality Communities urban change Albany

Head over to the OU site to use the photo slider.

Check out these before-and-after aerial photos of Northeast cities posted by an academic institute at the University of Oklahoma. Albany is among the cities featured -- that's a screengrab above -- in the series of before/after sliding photos.

From the Institute for for Quality Communities post:

60 years has made a big difference in the urban form of American cities. The most rapid change occurred during the mid-century urban renewal period that cleared large tracts of urban land for new highways, parking, and public facilities or housing projects. Fine-grained networks of streets and buildings on small lots were replaced with superblocks and megastructures. While the period did make way for impressive new projects in many cities, many of the scars are still unhealed.
We put together these sliders to show how cities have changed over half a century.

One of the things that struck us as we moved the slider back and forth on the Albany photos was that, sure, the Empire State Plaza took up a lot of space -- but it's remarkable how the wide path was plowed for the South Mall Arterial connecting I-787 and the ESP.

The institute's posted other series of sliding photos for Oklahoma and Texas, the Midwest, and Southeast.

[via @albanymuskrat]

photo compilation: Institute for for Quality Communities at the University of Oklahoma

Today's moment of winter

empire state plaza january sunset

Pretty, cold.

Fully operational

The latest photo illustration from local photographer John Bulmer:

You might remember Bulmer from the striking post-Apocalyptic Capital Region series "Reclaimed" and "Dark City."

Earlier on AOA:
+ Maybe there wasn't enough money for a spaceship
+ Just another snowy day on Lark Street... (or Hoth)

Hoffman's Playland, ESP neighborhood documentaries set to air

Hoffmans Playland Story trailer image

WHMT has scheduled premiere dates for a few local documentaries that a lot of people will probably interested in:

One More Ride: The Hoffman's Playland Story
Pretty much what it says on the label:

"One More Ride: The Hoffman's Playland Story" captures the history of the beloved family amusement park. For 62 years, it was where we brought our children to play and to celebrate birthdays. We rode the roller coaster and merry go round. It was a tradition of smiles and laughter for generations. And while this past season was its final one, WMHT will provide viewers with one last ride as we celebrate the history, nostalgia and memories of Hoffman's Playland. We'll meet the Hoffman family whose long-standing devotion, work ethic and continuous attention to detail and perseverance made the park what it was. It will all come to life through original videography, archival photos, home movies, behind the scenes video and emotional on-screen interviews.

It's set to air on November 29 at 9 pm. (It will also be streamed online.)

The Neighborhood that Disappeared
This is the doc by Mary Paley about the neighborhood knocked down for the Empire State Plaza. (You might remember the Kickstarter for the project.) We get the sense it's very much from the ESP-skeptic perspective. Blurbage:

In 1962, one of the most massive urban renewal projects in American history sterilized the cultural and ethnic heart of Albany, New York. An arrangement made by first term Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and longtime Albany Mayor, Erastus Corning the 2nd, displaced almost eight per cent of the City's diverse population, razed more than a thousand buildings, dislodged 3,600 households, and closed 350 businesses.
Tune in as 'The Neighborhood That Disappeared' unearths the vibrant ethnic neighborhood that housed courageous immigrants and the Greatest Generation. More than a half-century after it was lost forever; we'll revisit 'The Neighborhood That Disappeared.'

The doc is set to air December 12 at 8 pm.

Maybe there wasn't enough money for a spaceship

ESP_rendering_1960s_state_museum_arc_closeup

OK, it probably wasn't a spaceship. Probably.

One of the things we like about flipping through old architectural renderings is seeing the things that were proposed and, for whatever reason, never ended up being built. Because sometimes there's some out-there stuff.

An example we came across today in UAlbany's online photos archive: Renderings of the Empire State Plaza that show some sort of arc spaceship-type-thing where the State Museum now stands. One of the images is above.

There renderings are part of a small group showing what the then-not-constructed ESP could have looked like. Here are the renderings, along with a few things that struck us about them...

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The Corning Tower's salute to Derek Jeter

Corning Tower Derek Jeter salute

The Corning Tower saluted Derek Jeter Thursday night by lighting up his number on the building. The Yankee captain's last home game was also screened beneath The Egg -- and a few hundred people were there to watch. It turned out OK.

A few more large-format night photos from around the ESP and Capitol are after the jump.

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98 Acres in Albany

98 Acres in Albany 158 Hudson

A scene captured by state Department of Public Works photographer in 158 Hudson during the time leading up to the demolition of the neighborhood for the construction of the Empire State Plaza. Pfau and Hochfelder say it was one of the first photos they turned up that prompted them to think the materials could lead way to telling more intimate, human-scale stories about the neighborhood replaced by the ESP.

Almost everything about the Empire State Plaza is big: its physical size, its place in Albany's skyline, its presence in the city's history over the last century. It is architecture and history on a huge scale.

But a new project is aiming to focus on the smaller, more intimate parts of the ESP's history. A group of historians, on Twitter as @98AcresinAlbany, is uniting two sets of photos -- a series of meticulous exterior shots in the Albany Institute collection, and a series of interior photos from a collection at the State Archives -- to recover a more detailed picture of that time.

98 Acres in Albany is the creation of Ann Pfau (independent historian), David Hochfelder (professor at UAlbany), and Stacy Sewell (professor at St. Thomas Aquinas College). Their ultimate goal is to create a website to host these photos, document the history of the neighborhood, and collect memories and stories related to the ESP.

As Pfau recently told us: "We've found that everyone has a story about the Empire State Plaza, and everyone has an opinion about the Empire State Plaza."

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What is that structure atop the Corning Tower?

box structure atop Corning Tower

Updated

AR emailed us to ask:

[W]hat the heck are they doing on the roof of the Corning Tower?

AR was referring to the box-like structure that's been built atop the tower. It's noticeable from a bunch of different angles.

So we asked. From Heather Groll, a spokesperson for the state Office of General Services, which operates the Empire State Plaza:

The 25 foot high structure being built on top of the Corning Tower is an enclosure that will protect the equipment on the roof that we use to conduct building maintenance that includes repairs to the marble, window replacement, and washing. When it's finished the outside will be very similar in color to the building.

Groll said via email the structure is a permanent addition.

Here's a pic with a wider perspective, from Delaware Ave.

NYS OGS's At the Plaza series advertises on AOA.

Albany's reflection of Brazil

Brasilia Congresso Nacional

The National Congress Building in Brasilia. Look familiar?

Without all the attention focused on Brazil right now for the World Cup, we thought it'd be interesting to highlight a reflection of the country in Albany.

Yep, Albany.

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Watching the creation of the Empire State Plaza

Check it out: "The Making of the Mall," a short documentary produced in the 1960s and 70s about the creation of the Empire State Plaza. The doc includes film of downtown Albany before the ESP, scenes of the area being razed, and shots of the buildings under construction. It really puts the scale of the ESP into context.

From the narration:

The promise of the mall was magnificent. The reality discouraging. Ninety-eight acres of devastation, dust, and debris loomed more like the aftermath of war than urban renewal.
Violent legal and political wrangling had been in evidence from the outset concerning the feasibility and value of this grandiose project. 6800 residents and 350 small businesses had been displaced with no housing planned for their relocation and, it seemed, no concern for their future.

And then later in the doc...

Though the years that went into making the mall were often painful, especially for longtime residents who had seen their homes, their schools, and their churches obliterated to satisfy the ego of one man, today they are proud of what they once called Rocky's Folly. But which has transformed a 300-year-old Dutch town into the most spectacular capital in the country.

We came across the film via Carl, who in turn found it via the Albany... The Way It Was FB group. As Carl notes of the film:

Not entirely sure what year it was from, but it appears to have been the work of Helen C. Welsh, a school librarian, library studies instructor, and serious amateur filmmaker whose other gems, such as the story of the Tulip Festival, we can only hope to uncover.

The film is about 17 minutes long and well worth a look. We've pulled a few screengrabs to give you a sense of what it includes -- they're after the jump.

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Friday Night Flicks outdoor movies

LEGO movie still

The Lego Movie

Back when the schedule of summer events at the Empire State Plaza was announced for this summer was released, organizers also announced that the outdoor movie series would be back -- but in a different place, West Capitol Park. They also said the movies to be shown would be released later. And now the list is out:

August 8: Despicable Me 2

August 15: Forbidden Planet

August 22: The Lego Movie

August 29: Casablanca

The movies start at 8 pm. They're free.

NYS OGS advertises on AOA.

At The Plaza 2014

bootsy collins

Bootsy Collins will be there in June.

This summer's slate of events at the Empire State Plaza is out. It includes the usual mix of festivals and concerts.

The outdoor moves are also back this year, with some changes. The screenings -- now called "Friday Night Flicks" -- are being moved to West Capitol Park. And they'll happen each Friday night in August. The series will "feature classic films suitable for the entire family," according to the state Office of General Services.

On to the schedule...

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The view from (near) the top

corning tower view 2014-04-01

A larger version, for gawking.

While at the ESP today we took the opportunity to head up to the Corning Tower observation deck for a few minutes. We always forget how fun it is to gawk at everything from up there.

A handful of years ago check-in was required for the the observation area. But now it's just walk right in at the tower's base, head to the back of the bank of elevators (there's a sign), and take the quick (a bit wobbly) ride up.

The downside: the observation deck is only open week days from 10 am to 3:45 pm. If you have the chance sometime, though, it's worth the quick side trip.

The ESP with a lot more green?

empire state plaza lawn illustration

What if the Empire State Plaza was a bit... greener?

Rob passed along this 1997 article about Albany from the Baltimore Sun today. The headline: "Rockefeller's big dream realized Empire State Plaza: Locals who once scorned Albany's enormous government complex are grudgingly giving it some of the credit for the city's upscale renaissance."

It's kind of interesting to read because as much as things change -- they don't really seem to change all that much. You'll recognize a lot of themes from any recent discussion about downtown Albany.

But this part caught Rob's attention -- and we thought it was an interesting bit, too (emphasis added):

City officials complain that the plaza, while bringing tourists to downtown, has been less of a draw for residents of Albany and surrounding towns, such as Colonie, Troy and Rensselaer. The officials are proposing to replace one of the plaza's reflecting pools with a massive grass lawn, to encourage family picnics.
"We'd like to humanize the plaza so people feel like they can approach," says Leveille. "We need to do the same thing with the river."

The ESP with a giant, green lawn instead of one of the reflecting pools? What would that look like? The above (bad) photo illustration gives some sort of general sense.

We're not sure what to think about that -- but it's an interesting thing to tumble for a minute or two.

(Thanks, Rob.)

ESP ice rink opening postponed. Again.

Thumbnail image for empire state plaza ice skating 2012You know, winter really isn't making things easy for outdoor ice skating so far. (Shakes fist at the surprising not very cold winter sky.) And as a result, the opening of the Empire State Plaza ice rink has been delayed again.

The new kind-of-sort-of opening date: December 8, during the tree lighting event from 3-8 pm. Skating will be free (as always) and so will skate rental (as it is on Fridays).

OGS says the rink will then close from December 9-12 "as crews continue to improve the condition of the ice." And then, weather permitting, the rink will open permanently for the season on Friday, December 13 (yeah, luck just isn't with this thing this year).

Maybe it was a more impressionistic take

esp ice rink ink bleed

This pic floated our way today via an unnamed state employee. Don't you just hate it when you're trying to print something and the ink ends up smearing?

The ink bleed was later erased to clear the way for another attempt. (Pic post jump.)

The ESP ice skating rink is scheduled to open for the season this Saturday at 11 am, weather permitting. Skating's free -- and so are rentals on opening day (along with every Friday).

Ice skating on the plaza is one of those things that's worth doing at least once each winter. The fun:cost ratio is very high.

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The ice skating rink at the Empire State Plaza opens for the 2013-2014 season this next week

empire state plaza ice skating 2012

Update: The opening of the rink has been postponed to December 7 because of weather. (Thanks, Ron.)
____

We've mentioned this a few times, but it bears repeating as its own post: The ice skating rink at the Empire State Plaza opens for the season this Friday, November 29.

The rink -- located at the Capitol end of the ESP, near The Egg -- will be open 11 am-8 pm daily, weather permitting, until the end of the season (probably mid March). Skating is free. Skate rentals are $4 for adults / $3 kids 12 and under -- and every Friday is free rental day.

The skating rink also hosts a handful of events during the season, including popular (and free) learn-to-skate clinics. The first one is this Saturday. Pre-registration is required and they fill up fast. Also this season: a few "rock and skate" sessions featuring live music.

Tip: If you're worried about crowds, try stopping by after work during the weekday, if you can. Taking a few turns on the ice has a way of making it easier to release the stress from all those TPS reports.

This winter will be the third season since the ice skating rink was restored followed budget cuts a few years back. It's one of those things that's worth doing at least once during the winter. The fun-to-cost ratio is very high.

New food options at Empire State Plaza

Thumbnail image for empire state plaza agency buildings corning tower 2012The state Office of General Services announced a new lineup of food options at the Empire State Plaza. The new options include an outlet for Pho Yum, the casual Vietnamese restaurant in Colonie, and Capital Q, the barbecue place in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood. The new vendors start serving Monday, November 25.

The new vendor lineup was prompted by a switch from Sodexo, the current food service provider. Local restaurant empire Mazzone Hospitality is taking over the ESP's cafeteria and will have catering rights in the Albany Room. OGS says Mazzone will start December 9. [TU CapCon]

Also: "An announcement regarding the former Capitol Deli is forthcoming."

A full list of the new -- as well as still present -- food options is post jump.

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Wandering Dago's request for injunction against the state denied

Thumbnail image for food truck festival troy 2013 wandering dago crowdA federal judge has denied the Wandering Dago food truck's request for a preliminary injunction against the state Office of General Services and NYRA over being kept from the food vendor program at the Empire State Plaza and Saratoga Race Course this past summer.

The decision from US District Court judge Mae A. D'Agostino is after the jump. The judge's decision largely boiled down to a determination that WD waited too long to file for the injunction after originally being denied a spot at the ESP (there was a gap of about three months). JCE has more on the decision over at Capitol Confidential.

The vending season at the Track has ended for the year (of course), as has the season at the ESP.

The request for an injunction was just one part of original WD's complaint in the case. The food truck is also seeking damages and a judgement that the state's actions -- specifically, keeping the truck out of vendor programs because of the name -- is unconstitutional.

The owners of the Wandering Dago -- Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks -- started the food truck last year in Schenectady. The term "dago" has been used as a slur against people of Italian descent, and sometimes people from Spain and Portugal as well. But Loguidice and Snooks have said they picked the name as a nod to their Italian heritage and an effort to reclaim the word.

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A view from above, back then

aerial photo albany 1948 before ESP

We were poking around the online collections from the State Library this afternoon looking for something else when we came across this aerial photograph of Albany before the Empire State Plaza was built. It's from 1948. It made us think of the 1910 map overlay of Albany -- then over now -- that B sent along earlier this week, and some of the comments.

Anyway, there are three more photos:
+ From behind the Smith building
+ Looking north from the South End
+ And another, wider shot also from the South End -- in this one you can really see what would become the ESP's footprint (look for the Smith Building and the the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception).

photo: New York State Archives, Aerial photographic prints and negatives of New York State sites, 1941-1957

Wandering Dago food truck sues over not being allowed to vend at the ESP and Saratoga Race Course

food truck festival troy 2013 crowd outside wandering dago food truck

Wandering Dago at the food truck festival in Troy earlier this summer.

The Wandering Dago food truck has filed a lawsuit in federal court over the truck being denied the opportunity to vend at the Empire State Plaza and Saratoga Race Course this summer. In the suit, it contends the truck was bounced because of its name, an action it argues violated the owners' 1st Amendment rights.

The complaint is embedded after the jump. It lays out Wandering Dago's arguments and its view of the events that led up to its denial to vend at the ESP and Saratoga Race Course.

Here's the situation, as depicted in the lawsuit, in short:

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Which arrives first? The electric cars, or the places to charge them?

electric vehicle charging station shoprite niskayuna

An EV charging station at the ShopRite in Niskayuna. (photo: Kristofer)

Gina recently contacted us looking to get some help with a situation, which breaks down like this: She and her husband are thinking about getting an electric car. He'd be using the car to commute -- he works at the Capitol. And though he's seen that the ESP has charging stations for electric vehicles, they're apparently not for general use.

As Gina commented in her email to us (link added):

"For all the hype and press releases from the Governor's office about a new network of chargers statewide, the actual process for using them *on state worker territory* is frustratingly opaque."

So we looked into the situation a bit. And we managed to get an answer. But more than anything, their situation highlights one of the challenges facing electric vehicles generally.

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At The Plaza 2013

at the plaza 2013 composite

Among the lineup: Blues Traveler, Mayer Hawthorne, and outdoor screening of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

This summer's slate of events at the Empire State Plaza is out. It includes the usual mix of festivals and concerts. And the outdoor movies are back, which is good.

On to the schedule...

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On top of The Egg

workers on top of the egg

A few people mentioned seeing workers -- and a railing -- on top of The Egg today.

So... preparations for an Egg-top roof party? Or, finally, an effort to signal the mothership?

Alas, no.

The workers are up there re-coating the roof, part of normal maintenance that happens every 5-8 years, a state Office of General Services spokesperson told us. The railing is a temporary safety measure. The work is expected to be finished around September 1.

The mothership will just have to wait.

[photo via @fujontap -- thanks!]

Earlier AOA: Cracking open the origins of The Egg

Why is there a house on the ESP?

modular home on empire state plaza

This afternoon Kim had a question that we suspect more than a few people will also have over the next week:

Anyone know why there's a trailer, excuse me, a modular home being built in the Empire State Plaza?

The answer, via Ed: It's a display for the New York Housing Association, an industry group for "factory-manufactured home builders, retailers and community owners." The org's spring conference and "legislative summit" is next week in downtown Albany. From the Empire State Plaza Convention and Cultural Events FB page:

In honor of the New York Housing Association 63rd Anniversary, the public is invited to visit a beautiful, two bedroom, two bath, thirteen hundred square foot manufactured home on display on the Empire State Plaza from April 27- May 1st.

The style of the house is a stark contrast to the modernist plaza. Maybe they could score a more modern pre-fab if they do it again...

Bonus historical bit: Albany has a few of the first "manufactured" homes ever, uh, manufactured -- Jermain Street in Albany has five Lustron Houses, prefab enameled steel homes made in the late 1940s.

(Thanks, Ed!)

Earlier on AOA: What are those holes by the ESP?

More (temporary) parking spaces for downtown Albany state employees

Thumbnail image for empire state plaza agency buildings from elm streetThe state Office of General Services announced that it will be making available 1,000 parking spots to state employees in downtown Albany as part of a temporary program. From the press release:

This Temporary Parking Assistance Initiative will allocate these spaces based on state service to PEF and CSEA members who presently do not have spaces in state lots.
OGS initiated this one-time, single purpose allocation for downtown state parking after consultation with PEF and CSEA to provide timely relief to state employees who may be impacted by the City of Albany's Residential Parking Permit System.

Update: OGS spokesperson Heather Groll tells us the spaces are in most of the downtown state operated lots.

The agency has posted a form for members of CSEA and PEF who'd like to apply for spots (they'll be assigned by state seniority). The deadline is February 13.

OGS says it's aiming to complete a "comprehensive restructuring of the state's downtown Albany parking system" by sometime this spring. The state has been working on this restructuring since at least fall. It was prompted in part by the "re-stacking" of state office space, which an OGS spokesperson told us last September had moved about 2,000 state employees to downtown Albany. (We had emailed OGS back then for an answer to a reader question about how many parking spaces the state has for downtown employees -- it was still being sorted out as part of the parking restructuring.)

Last September irisira posted a very good comment about the state of downtown state employee parking.

It's been about two weeks since the Albany residential parking permit system started. We're curious about how things have shaken out so far state employees around the ESP. Longer walks? More bus riding? Complete mayhem?

Empire State Plaza skating rink opening

empire state plaza ice skating 2012

Taking a few turns last year on the ESP.

The ice skating rink at the Empire State Plaza will open this Friday (November 23), the state Office of General Services announced today.

The rink will be open seven days a week from 11 am-8 pm. It's free to skate.

Skate rentals are $3 for kids under 12 / $4 for adults. Each Friday this season will include free skate rentals, thanks to sponsorship by Hannaford. OGS says the lockers and skate rental are now on the plaza level next to the rink.

It's great to see the rink returning for another year. Public spaces are better with people. And it's fun! We went skating a few times after work last winter -- it helps you let go of the hassles from the day.

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The Empire State Plaza, from above

If ever you've wondered: "What would it be like to fly a remote controlled plane with a an HD camera near the ESP?" -- wonder no longer.

The embedded clip above was posted on YouTube this past February by user IloveSPIDERZ. The plane takes off in Lincoln Park, and fights what appears to some very strong wind (motion sickness!) while flying near the south end of the plaza. It's a long clip, but you can get a pretty good sense of it from a minute or two.

(Thanks, Carl)

Tangentially, elsewhere: If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor's House, Is It Trespassing? [The Atlantic]

Well, it is really hard to find parking by the ESP

corning tower the egg esp looking upThe state Inspector General's Office announced today that a state Department of Health employee has been arrested for allegedly scoring a handicapped parking pass for the Empire State Plaza by using a forged doctor's note.

From the press release:

The Inspector General's investigation determined that in May of 2011, Witt obtained special parking privileges at his work location at Empire State Plaza based on a forged doctor's note. In addition, Defendant admitted that on three separate occasions in January and February of 2012, he submitted certified time records indicating that he had worked full days when he had not reported to work at all.
"New Yorkers have every right to expect that state employees will comport themselves with the highest degree of honesty and integrity," said Acting Inspector General [Catherine Leahy] Scott. "Fraudulently obtaining handicapped parking not only is unlawful, but potentially inhibits the rights of New Yorkers with disabilities in need of accessible parking. Further, any fraudulent abuse of time and attendance records undermines public trust. Such conduct is not tolerable."

The IG's office says Witt has been charged with four felony counts -- and faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Full release after the jump.

By the way: Does anyone know how long the waiting list is now for a parking spot at the ESP?

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At the movies, at the ESP

outdoor movie Empire State Plaza

We checked out the screening of Star Trek at the Empire State Plaza Wednesday night. The weather was absolutely beautiful. And it was a fun time.

This was the second of two outdoor screenings this summer at the ESP. We'd love to see them do it again next year -- especially if they work out some of the technical issues, and maybe get a bigger screen. Like with the skating rink in the winter, it's great to see people enjoying the public space during non-work hours.

Also: Albany apparently loves Leonard Nimoy. Though, really, who doesn't?

At The Plaza 2012

mike doughty on couch

Mike Doughty will be there.

The schedule is out for this year's At The Plaza series of events at the Empire State Plaza.

There are fireworks on the Fourth of July, of course, and some of the festivals return. But new this year: outdoor screenings of two movies: Puss in Boots on July 25, and Star Trek (the recent, JJ Abrams one) on August 8.

Also: Mike Doughty is headlining the "Local Legends Live!" concert on September 8.

All the events are free.

Full schedule is after the jump.

photo via Mike Doughty Facebook

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Drive on the Empire State Plaza? The future then.

early ESP rendering from Craigslist

A cropped version. Here's the full version.

Today on Craigslist we stumbled across a listing for these great old renderings envisioning an auto-centric version of the Empire State Plaza. Here are easy-to-view versions: one, two, three, four, five, six.

There isn't a date listed for the renderings -- the Craigslist poster says he/she is looking for info about them (and accepting offers). We're guessing they're from the early to mid 50s (construction started in 1959). Check out how there are streets right on the plaza, running next to the agency buildings.

And this overview rendering gives a sense of the imagined context.

Earlier on AOA: The highway that was almost buried under Washington Park

photo: Craigslist item "Paintings of Empire State Plaza"

Throwing jabs -- the real kind -- at the Empire State Plaza

boxing empire state plazaThere's a professional boxing at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center this Saturday night -- which struck us as kind of unusual because... it's the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. The only people who usually trade jabs there are politicians and lobbyists.

But it turns out there's a history of boxing matches at the ESP. There was a string of bouts under the Egg during the 1980s. And there was a bout there last year -- the first in 21 years. [Pugnacious Promotions] [TU]

Mike Tyson
One of the bouts back in the day included Mike Tyson, who at the time was training in Catskill. In 1986 Tyson entered the bout undefeated with a 15-0 record -- and he faced a fighter named Dave Jaco, who had picked up boxing as a hobby following a divorce, and stuck with it because of the possibility of winning money. [AP 1997] [Gazette archive]

You can probably guess how that turned out: Tyson won after knocking down Jaco three times a little more than 2 minutes into the first round. Afterward, Jaco asked reporters: "Anybody see that truck?" [Gazette archive]

Saturday
The card for Saturday night's events at the ESP includes 8 bouts. The first bout is at 6 pm. Tickets start at $40.

By the way: If there's going to be boxing at the ESP, it would seem kind of hard for politicians to keep pushing the state ban against MMA.

photo: Julia Zave / Ares Boxing

Corning Tower stair climb 2012

Thumbnail image for corning tower looking upThe annual Corning Tower stair climb for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Northeastern NY is March 8. The climb includes a few subdivision: individuals, a relay race (four person teams), a 13-floor climb for individuals, and most impressive -- a firefighter's climb (yep, firefighters going up all those steps while wearing their gear).

Hey, it's only 42-floors (809 steps). Easy, right? Heh. Liz -- who we're sure has a level of fitness and athleticism to which we could only hope for -- did the stair climb last year. She felt the burn.

Registration is now $40 (there's also a $125 pledge minimum). Check in begins at 4 pm, and the climbing starts at 6 pm.

Ice skating at the Empire State Plaza

empire state plaza ice skating 2012

Fun.

The ice skating rink at the ESP re-opened this past Saturday for the first time since 2008. So, of course, we had to take a few turns.

Here are a few details if you decide to go. (And you totally should.)

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Ice skating rink returning to ESP

ice skaing rink ESP

Cool.

Update Jan 3, 2012: Here are details about skating at the ESP rink.
____

Update Dec 14, 2011: OGS says it's aiming to open the rink the first week of January -- and skates will be available for renting (it will be free to skate).
____

The state Office of General Services announced over the weekend that the ice skating rink will be returning to the Empire State Plaza this winter. The ESP has been rinkless since the winter of 2007-08 because of budget cuts. (Full press release pasted after jump.)

OGS says it's aiming for an early January opening. The rink will be open afternoon and evenings, 7 days a week. Skating will be free. The exact date and operation times are still being worked out. (Also: some colder weather might speed things along.)

The rink's comeback is being funded in part by a $100,000 contribution Lake Placid Regional Winter Sports Committee, which is a "non-profit focused on supporting and developing Upstate New York as a sport destination for international and national winter sport events."

In the grand scheme of things, the skating rink isn't a big thing. But the news a few years back that it wasn't coming back because of budget cuts was a bit of a "gulp" moment about the economy and state budget. And there's just something beautiful about the scene created by people skating on the ESP. It's great the rink will be back.

If you've never seen the ESP rink -- or just want to remember what it looks like -- a few more photos from early 2008 are after the jump.

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Public hearing for the proposed Albany parking permit system tonight

Albany Permit Parking Map proposed cropped

An overview map of the proposed coverage area. Much bigger versions are the after the jump.

The public hearing for the proposed Albany residential parking permit system is tonight (Monday) at 7 pm at city hall. The public hearing is one of the last steps before the system could potentially be passed and moved toward implementation.

We suspect there will be plenty of suggestions/questions/concerns about the system, particularly about which spots will be subject to the permits. Richard Conti, the common councilman heading up the project, touched on that topic in his ward newsletter last week:

... the street designations on the zone maps are preliminary subject to revision after the public hearing. I've discussed the inclusion or non-inclusion of streets at neighborhood meetings during the month of October, and have received other communications, and am aware of some of the concerns regarding preliminary street designations. Under the state authorizing legislation, we are limited to the designations of 2,750 spaces spread across three zones. After the current proposed map was finalized we discovered additional spaces that had not been allocated. So we have a margin to play with to address concerns. ...
Resolving the street designations is the major issue that needs to be resolved; once that is completed the remaining pieces should fall into place.

As proposed, the system would cover three zones around the Empire State Plaza:
+ Zone A - 1946 spaces in Center Square/Hudson-Park/Washington Park/parts of Park South,
+ Zone B - 443 spaces in the Mansion neighborhood
+ Zone C - 163 spaces in Arbor Hill around the Ten Broeck Triangle

Details and maps of these proposed zones are available from the city's website -- and we've also posted them after the jump here for easy scanning.

The state law giving the city the right set up the system allows for 2,750 spaces within a 3/4 mile radius of the ESP. Once implemented, the system will run for two years and then be up for review.

Car sharing: We hear that car sharing advocates will also be at the hearing tonight pushing their case. In the past, advocates have touted sharing as another way of addressing the parking problem in congested neighborhoods.

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Bill Clinton's speech at the Empire State Plaza

After the announcement of the $4.4 billion big thing about small things, Bill Clinton spoke at the New York Open for Business conference Tuesday at the ESP. The video is embedded above. Clinton's speech starts at the 50:00 mark (you can just jump to that point).

At the beginning of the speech, Clinton gives a shoutout to Jerry Jennings and remembers... jogging in Albany.

Bill Clinton speaking in Albany September 27

bill clinton at world economic forum 2006 davosUpdate: Here's video of the speech.
____

Shh, don't tell anyone: Bill Clinton will be speaking in Albany next week (Tuesday, September 27).

The former president will be the keynote speaker at a conference at the Empire State Plaza for the regional economic councils set up by the Cuomo administration. The event is open to the public, but there's a ticket lottery. You must enter by the end of this Tuesday (September 20) and confirm your intent to attend within 24 hours of being notified.

Oddly, the Cuomo admin seems to be underplaying the event a bit. On the website for the economic councils, it's just billed as "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo/ REGIONAL COUNCIL STATEWIDE CONFERENCE/ September 27, 2011- Albany, NY." Stars are always so touchy about whose name goes above the title...

Bill Clinton was last here in March when he spoke at UAlbany.

[via Biz Review]

photo: Flickr user World Economic Forum

What are those holes by the ESP?

ESP holes in the ground

Helloooo?

Joe emails (with the above photo):

Re: The Mystery Hole at Empire State Plaza
I figured you guys might know - I can't even speculate as to what the hell this structure is and its always puzzled me. The view is looking east over the side of ESP near the egg. Why are the walls so high? What in the blue blazes is this thing??

We've wondered about those holes, too. (You can see them very clearly in satellite photos.) And we had some guesses.

But to get the word straight from the source, we contacted the New York State Office of General Services, which runs the ESP.

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South Mall Expressway closed

The state Department of Transportation announced Wednesday night that it was immediately closing the South Mall Expressway -- that's Routes 9 and 20 between the Empire State Plaza and the Dunn Memorial Bridge -- because an inspection found cracks in beams that support the road. The full release -- with suggested alternate routes -- is after the jump.

Also part of the closure: the Madison Avenue off-ramp from I-787 south, the South Pearl Street on-ramp leading to the Dunn Memorial Bridge, and the part of Broadway between the Quay Street Connector and Madison Avenue.

The Dunn is still open, but down to one westbound lane (that is, heading toward Albany). Albany police say they expect backups Thursday morning, maybe as far back as Rensselaer. They're suggesting people use alternate routes if possible.

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The Albany residential parking permit task force recommendations

A totally unofficial estimate of the area to be covered by the parking permit system.

The task force developing the Albany residential parking permit system released its report and recommendations last week. The file that we received from Common Councilman Richard Conti, the task force's chair, is embedded after the jump.

The report includes many of the provisions Conti mentioned when we talked with him about the system in June. But there are few bits that caught our eye -- we've highlighted those.

If you live/work/visit the area around the Empire State Plaza, it's worth taking a look at this report. There will be a public comment period after an ordinance is introduced. There's also lobbying/emailing/stopping your council person on the street to talk about suggestions or changes. (And based on the comments from June, it sounds like people will have suggestions.)

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Oh, that's not a good sign

one way down the drain

Ominous.

Ed noticed this sign today at Swan and Lancaster near the ESP in Albany.

Yep -- it's one way, right down the drain.

(Thanks, Ed!)

photo: Ed Lass

What's up with the Albany parking permit system?

A totally unofficial estimate of the area to be covered by the parking permit system.

It's been just about a year since the state legislature passed a bill allowing the city of Albany to set up a residential parking permit system near the Empire State Plaza. So, where's all that at now?

Albany Common Councilman Richard Conti is heading up the task force in charge of developing the system. We had a chance to talk with him last week about how the system is potentially shaping up...

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Loving -- and hating -- the Empire State Plaza

egg corning tower museum from esp

Impressive -- and maddening.

By Martin Daley

soap box badgeLike lots of Albanians, I have a love/hate relationship with the Empire State Plaza.

I've never known Albany without the ESP. It's just always been there for me. I know I'm coming home when I see it on the horizon. It's a symbol of this city, and there's no changing that.

Nelson Rockefeller sure knew how to make his mark.

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Future lawyers, welcome to Albany

By Akum Norder

bar exam If you see a lot of stressed-out lawyer types around downtown Albany this week, carrying their personal belongings in clear zip-lock bags, there's a reason for that: The New York state bar exam is being administered today and tomorrow at the Empire State Plaza.

People come to Albany from all over the country and the world to take the New York bar. The state's exam has a reputation as one of the toughest -- if not the toughest -- in the country. As a test-taker said in the ABA Journal a few years ago, "If you've passed the New York bar exam, you can probably pass any other state bar." One lawyer noted that California's exam is longer, "but in substance, it was easier than New York."

More than 4,000 people took the test last February at sites across the state. First-time takers from ABA-approved schools passed the state bar exam at a rate of 80.5 percent. But the rate for all candidates -- domestic and foreign educated, first-time and repeat takers -- was 50 percent.

Good luck, guys.

At the Plaza Food Festival

Super400 at ESPUpdated with a sampling of vendors

Here's something that might be worth checking out on Wednesday: the annual At the Plaza Food Festival will be set up on the ESP from 11 am - 9 pm.

The event blurb says there will be 50 food vendors, which might make for a fun lunch stop. A sample of the vendors is after the jump.

And there's music, too. Among the lineup: locals Super 400 will be playing at 6:15 (that's them on the right, at the ESP even). And the Smithereens (yep, those Smithereens) will be playing at 7:45.

(Thanks, Glenna!)

photo via OGS

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Is there a world record in the can?

state museum from ESP

A record-breaking spot?

Heads-up/could be oddly fun/could be loud: talk show host Jake Sasseville will be at the ESP Friday afternoon in a bid to break the world record for the "largest drum can ensemble." (The can in this case appears to be a Pringles can -- the potato crisps, or rather an "extreme" version of them, are sponsoring the event.)

The event blurb says Sasseville is looking for people to "help him shatter this world record with a noise so loud it can be heard in Canada!" (Payback for the earthquake?) The publicist for the event says they need 500 people to break the record.

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Fireworks!

chuck miller composite

Chuck's set is almost like being there.

We're a little (OK, a lot) late on this because of the summer break, but we're always happy to gawk at fireworks photos. Chuck has a huge photoset from the ESP display. He's also posted an account of the evening (it included Polish horseshoes).

A few other sets to check out:
+ Helena Bowman's nice photoset makes the ESP fireworks look almost plant-like -- sort of like luminous dandelions that have gone to seed.
+ We love the light in this shot by Katie Anello.
+ We like the framing in this shot by liz_ahearn
+ This set by tcsuliv is a bunch of really wide shots. We like this shot, specifically.
+ F1addictob's set includes the Price Chopper "sign" on the Corning Tower.
+ This "hipstamatic" shot by theDreamerWorld looks totally old-school.
+ There's something kind of cool about how the person is silhouetted in this photo by s.m. bush.
+ And Caitee Smith went bokeh on the display.

(Thanks, Chuck! Thanks, Sebastien!)

photos: Chuck Miller

Assembly passes Albany residential parking permits bill


The approximate area covered by the 3/4 mile radius. Not every spot will be subject to the permits.

The state Assembly has passed the bill that would allow the City of Albany to run a trial residential parking permit program around the Empire State Plaza. From Albany Common Councilman Richard Conti's Facebook status last night:

Albany Permit Parking Bill just passed the Assembly, 80-45! Thanks to Assemblymembers McEneny and Canestrari for their efforts on moving this forward ... now it moves to Governor Paterson for approval.

The bill passed in the state Senate last week.

Among the bill's provisions:
+ The City of Albany would be allowed to "pilot a residential parking permit system with a two year sunset" within a 3/4 mile radius of the ESP.
+ No more than 2,750 spaces would be made available by permit in the permitted area. (The bill figures there are about 9000 spaces total in the affected area.)
+ Permit parking would not be allowed on streets where adjacent properties are zoned for "commercial, office and/or retail use."
+ At least 20 percent of the spaces in the permit would be available for non-residents to use for at least 90 minutes at a time.

(Thanks, Mike and others!)

Update: From a PEF press release:

The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) is disappointed state lawmakers have passed the Albany Permit Parking Plan, pandering to a small group of residents while shunning the needs of the general public.

The union is calling for Paterson to veto the legislation.

Earlier on AOA: Is the brake coming off residential parking permits near the ESP in Albany?

"An authentically quaint vision of a hopeful future"

ESP from library

Beam me up.

Architect Michael Molinelli, in an appreciation of the Empire State Plaza in the current issue of Hudson Valley Mag:

The plaza appeals to me because it is a futuristic vision built with great optimism. In many ways, it could have been a set on the original Star Trek. ...
It looks dated now because we currently like to affect older historical styles. Give ESP another 40 years and it will no longer be old, but venerable and -- perhaps -- an authentically quaint vision of a hopeful future.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Cracking open the origins of The Egg
+ Ben Folds' short tour of the ESP
+ The Egg is famously strange
+ Talking with They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh about The Egg

Is the brake coming off residential parking permits near the ESP in Albany?


Not every street within the proposed area would be subject to residential parking permits

Via Bob Conner comes word that a bill allowing residential parking permits near the Empire State Plaza is moving through the legislature again.

The bill passed in the Assembly a year ago, but died in the state Senate. Bob reports that Neil Breslin says it looks like there will be enough votes to pass it this time around in the Senate.

Among the bill's provisions:
+ The City of Albany would be allowed to "pilot a residential parking permit system with a two year sunset" within a 3/4 mile radius of the ESP.
+ No more than 2,750 spaces would be allowed in the permitted area.
+ Permit parking would not be allowed on streets where adjacent properties are zoned "commercial, office [and]/or retail use."

(The full text of the bill's provisions is after the jump.)

One possible hitch: the Assembly version of the bill differs from the Senate version in the size of the allowed area for permits -- 3/4 mile vs. 1 mile. Bob reports that CSEA dropped its opposition to the bill because of the reduced radius. Update: Albany common councilman Richard Conti stopped by in the comments to note the Senate bill is identical to the Assembly bill and includes the 3/4 mile radius (it appears the Open Senate entry for the bill hasn't been completely updated, yet).

Jerry Jennings told AOA last October that he wants permit parking -- and would pursue it if the legislature allowed it.

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The tree is lit -- with a bang

fireworks

For best results, take a look at it really big.

Sebastien's posted a photo set from the tree lighting Sunday at the ESP.

(This also explains why we heard fireworks last night. It kind of caught us off guard.)

photo: Sebastien B

Tuba Christmas at the ESP

tuba closeupEmails Chris today with word of a brassy event:

Tuba Christmas is a flash mob style concert where by low brass (tubas, French horns, etc.) show up someplace, practice a bunch of Christmas tunes, and then play 'em.
I've attended a bunch of these (in Baltimore, out on the Eastern part of MA) and it's awesome, but they depend on getting the word out.

Chris says the local Tuba Christmas is scheduled for this Sunday at the ESP. From (where else?) tubachristmas.com:

ALBANY - SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 - TIME: 4:00 pm LOCATION: Empire State Plaza, concourse
REGISTRATION: 12:30 pm Massry Center for the Arts, St. Rose, room 306
REHEARSAL: 1:30 pm same as registration
PARKING: rehearsal is on site, parking for performance is being arranged
CONDUCTOR: David Wampler, Instructor of low brass, College of St. Rose
COORDINATOR: Gregory Clark 315-264-4474

photo: Flickr user celesteh

Ben Folds' short tour of the ESP

ben folds ESPFrom the Twitter stream of Ben Folds, who performed at the Egg last night:

http://twitpic.com/kmz72 - this is where i'm playing in albany. they call it an egg, but its more football like
http://twitpic.com/kmz2r - its a sad day when our society makes women go to the bathroom in public trash cans
http://twitpic.com/kmz97 - empty seats at soundcheck, egg in albany
http://twitpic.com/kohmv - albany egg: post soundcheck, people showed up to cover up some of the red.

[via @marciepry]

photo: Ben Folds

Reaction to APD shame sign, man found dead near the Egg, Paterson and Ravitch reportedly at odds, Other Guys shoot wraps, local woman on Jeopardy tonight

A spokesman for the APD says the light-up sign on Central Ave that's set to display the names of people arrested for soliciting prostitute is no different from mug shots appearing in the local news. The spokesman says city attorneys don't foresee any legal issues with the sign. Defense attorneys aren't so sure about that. [CBS6] [WNYT] [Fox23] [TU]

A state Supreme Court judge has thrown out 39 of the allegedly fraudulent Troy absentee ballots. [TU]

A man was found dead Saturday morning at the foot of the ESP wall below the Egg near Lancaster Street. Police say they're investigating, though it appears the man fell. [Troy Record] [Fox23] [WNYT]

GlobalFoundries' "Fab 1" in Dresden, Germany -- which was built by AMD in 1998 -- is now at the center of a cluster that employs 35,000 people. [Saratogian]

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Obama at HVCC today, Bruno not invited, Paterson told to drop out, transcript indicates chief used slur, men accused of blowing up turtle

obama hvcc before

The scene this morning before the event.

President Obama's appearance at HVCC today is scheduled for 11:30 am. There were no tickets made available to the public. Video from the event will be streamed on HVCC's web site. Update: Lou's posted details about how to get the stream working. [HVCC] [HVCC]

Obama's speech is expected to focus on the economy and industries such as alternative energy. HVCC was likely chosen because the Obama Administration has been touting the potential of community colleges to train workers for these industries. [Troy Record] [TU]

The usual assortment of state and local politicians will be at the Obama event -- including Paul Tonko, who's flying in on Air Force One with the POTUS. [TU] [Fox23]

Not on that list of officials: Joe Bruno, who says the White House told him specifically that he was not invited -- and told WNYT that he's "hurt by it." Bruno's pork prowess helped fund many of the projects Obama will be highlighting. [WNYT] [TU]

The White House has reportedly asked David Paterson to drop out of the 2010 gubernatorial race. Paterson says he's still planning to run. The President is expected to meet with Paterson today during his visit to the Capital Region -- and with gubernatorial candidate state attorney general Andrew Cuomo. [NYT] [AP/Troy Record] [NYDN]

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The Egg is famously strange

the_egg_in_profile.jpgThe Egg has popped on another "weird building" list -- it's #4 on Popular Mechanics' list of "The World's 18 Strangest Buildings--And Why We Love Them." The mag geeks out on The Egg's "intensive support system."

Last year the theater showed up on a list of 50 strange buildings. One more list and we think The Egg gets inducted into the hall of fame.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Cracking open the origins of The Egg
+ Talking with They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh about The Egg

(Thanks, Arielle!)

Report: ambulance delay a result of "human error," state AG's office takes up ESP man cave case, GE reportedly building new plant in Schenectady, it's huuuuuge

The city report on the delayed ambulance response to the scene of a fatal crash between a car and a child on a bike in Albany in May concludes that "a single human error" was responsible for the delay. The dispatch error held up the city from calling another service, said the chair of the report task force. The report also concluded that a faster response would not have saved the child. [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Police are looking for a man who allegedly kidnapped a woman in Saratoga Springs Thursday night and attempted to sexually assault her. The woman, who had been forced at gunpoint to strip, escaped. Police credited her with being "brave and resourceful." The SSPD says it will release a statement about the case today. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The ESP Man Cave case has been turned over to the state attorney general's office -- and felony charges are possible. [TU]

It seems that David Paterson's gubernatorial campaign is something less than fiscally disciplined, spending lavishly on consultants, hotels and -- in one case -- joke writers. That largesse apparently did not extend to reimbursing the state for airfare, though. [NYT] [TU]

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Attorney calls ESP man cave allegations overblown, SPAC ticket surchage floated, Tedisco proposes "Madoff Bill," DEC building urinals criticized for backsplash

An attorney for one of the men accused of setting up a "man cave" in the ESP for smoking pot instead described the space as "a break room" and called the allegations "overblown." One of the accused men has a criminal record -- and there are some questions about whether the state knew that before hiring him. [TU] [CBS6]

The Albany Common Council has passed a resolution that calls on public agencies to not ask a person about his/her immigration status if that person is "not posing a threat." The resolution is non-binding. [TU] [CBS6] [Fox23]

Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner has floated the idea of tacking on a $2 surcharge to rock and pop concert tickets at SPAC. The fee could bring in as much as $500k. SPAC's executive director said the venue is "firmly opposed" to the proposed fee and called it "an onerous tax." [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Saratogian]

The Troy Fire Department says mayor Harry Tutunjian has asked it to tour the RPI campus -- EMPAC in particular -- to get a better sense of the layout of campus buildings. The TFD has been lobbying for RPI to pay a public safety fee to fund additional fire coverage of the campus. [TU]

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The ESP is smokin'!

smokin ESP

Duuuude.

This is the kind of story you just can't make up. From a press release from the state Inspector General's office:

A state janitor was arrested and his boss suspended this week amid allegations that they created a hidden party lounge at an Empire State Plaza garage to sell drugs, smoke pot and sleep for hours during work shifts.

This hidden lounge allegedly contained "couches, TV and scales to weigh marijuana." The press release actually uses the term "man cave."

The janitor is also accused of using his Office of General Services truck to make pot deliveries to other state workers during his shifts. Both he and his supervisor have been suspended without pay.

(Thanks, CB!)

Oooooh! Ahhhh!

july 4th fireworks

Bang.

Sebastien, B and Paul have posted some great photos of the fireworks at the ESP this past weekend.

That's one of Sebastien's photos above. Check out the reflection on the Corning Tower in this shot by B. And we love this wide-angle shot by Paul.

Update: Check out Chuck's set of fireworks photos -- they're from a different angle.

photo: Sebastien B

Alleged "Craigslist killer" went to UAlbany, Schenectady HS fight reportedly over suicide taunting, police say bus driver may have been at wheel drunk, smokin' at Skidmore

Philip Markoff, the Boston U medical student accused of being "the Craigslist killer" by police, is reportedly a 2007 UAlbany graduate. The man's fiance, who also reportedly attended UAlbany, told ABC News that police have the wrong guy. Markoff is the fourth former UAlbany student to be charged with murder during the last five years. [Boston Globe] [AP] [ABC News] [Albany Student Press]

Three teen girls were charged after a fight at Schenectady High School yesterday injured two teachers. One of the girl's mothers said her daughter did throw the first punch -- because she was being taunted about the recent suicide of her cousin. Students said yesterday that bullying is an ongoing problem at the school. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Fox23]

Rudy Giuliani was in town last night for the Albany County Republicans' annual Lincoln Reagan dinner. Guiliani said state leaders should be "ashamed" of the New York's current "anti-competitive position" and he criticized the size of the recently passed state budget. Guiliani said he hasn't made his mind up about whether he'll run for governor next year and isn't sure when he will. [NYDN] [CapNews9] [AP/Newsday] [PolitickerNY]

There are still about 1500 disputed absentee ballots still to be counted (or not counted) in the NY20 special election. Scott Murphy's unofficial lead over Jim Tedisco is at 273 votes -- and Democrats are starting to make noises about the race being over. [TU] [CapNews9]

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Inauguration parties?

Obama speaking

We're guessing he's going to give a good speech.

Madonna (no, not that one) emailed us this week asking if we knew about any places hosting parties or events related to the inauguration. So far, we haven't come across anything that really stood out. Anyone hear of something good? Please share.

If you work around downtown Albany and are looking for a place to watch with some other people, we heard today that the NY Network will be showing the inauguration on the big screens at the Madison Ave end of the ESP concourse.

photo: Flickr user Lost Albatross

It snowed, pharmacy held up with a grenade, man stewed before bank heist, Paterson in Iraq, hope for ESP skating rink?

It snowed. The National Weather Service estimates the Capital Region got between 14-20 inches over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A snow emergency is in effect in Albany until 8 pm Tuesday -- and in Troy, you can park free in downtown city lots and garages until Monday at 8 pm. [Daily Gazette] [City of Albany] [City of Troy]

After the recent ice storm and power outages, the state Public Service Commission says it will be watching how well utilities keep trees trimmed around power lines. One potential culprit for some of the downed trees: the white pine weevil, a beetle that weakens otherwise ice-resistant pine trees. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Police say a man robbed an uptown Albany CVS of narcotics Friday night using the threat of a grenade. [Daily Gazette]

Police say yet another pizza delivery guy was robbed in Albany in apparent setup. This is the third time that's happened in the last few weeks. In this most recent robbery, it seems the muggers only got away with pizza and chicken wings. [CBS6] [CapNews9] [TU]

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New plan for Albany Convention Center, tech park for Arsenal, pepper spray fog sends six to hospital, ESP skating rink protests

The Albany Convention Center Authority has reformulated its plan for the project, separating the convention center, parking garage and hotel into their own parts. The new plan is expected to cut the cost of the project by about 40 percent. The authority says it won't be doing less, it'll just be "putting the pieces together differently." [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A federal investigation and raid in Watervliet led to the arrest of three men on charges they were making bombs and growing marijuana. [TU]

The plan to turn a significant portion of the Watervliet Arsenal into a tech park was officially announced yesterday. Outgoing US Rep Mike McNulty says the site could eventually support 1000 jobs. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record]

The latest local layoffs at: WNYT | Albany International | Momentive Performance Materials. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

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Pickup plows into family of pedestrians, ESP skating rink won't open, Saratoga packs 'em in for Gillibrand, ghost ticket investigation urged

A pickup truck hit a family of seven as they were crossing State Street in Schenectady late yesterday afternoon. A police spokesmen said there were "bodies all over the street" and it was "the worst thing" he'd ever seen. Two of the injured children were airlifted to Albany Med -- they were in critical condition last night. [TU] [WNYT] [Daily Gazette]

Opponents to the expansion of the Albany dump were out in force last night at a public comment meeting. One city resident called said the dump problems wouldn't be fixed until there's a new mayor. And Colonie residents complained about the smell. The dump is projected to be full by the end of next year. [TU] [WNYT]

The family of the man who was mistakenly identified by police as having died in a car wreck says the error was preventable. They say police didn't take notice that the body didn't match their son's license -- it was 200 pounds heavier and had different color eyes. They also say police never asked them to identify the body. [TU]

The skating rink on the ESP will not open this year. The state says it can save $150,000 keeping the rink closed. [TU]

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New York needs a new senator, driver hit by trains charged with misdemeanor, ESP skating rink on ice?, Reilly has headlock on UFC, Troy officials fight over door lock, Garcia's closes

Hillary Clinton will be introduced as Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of State today. That means, of course, that New York will need a new US senator (David Paterson gets to make the pick). Of interest: it came out this past weekend that Clinton had been offered the chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which would have allowed her to direct loads of pork to NY. [NYT] [NYDN]

The man driving the SUV that was struck by two trains last week in New Scotland has been charged with a misdemeanor for not stopping at the rail crossing. Officials say a review of video and black boxes from the trains indicates the train operators did nothing wrong. [TU]

A 17-year-old was shot Friday night in the area of Clinton and Lark in Albany. Police say the shooter caught the young man in the face with a shotgun. [TU] [Troy Record]

Vandals spray-painted more than 50 cars in Lansingburgh Friday night. Residents say vandalism in the neighborhood is out of control. [Troy Record] [TU]

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Lunch with Rousseau, Gauguin, Klimt and Munch

Rousseau's Hungry Lion

The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope by Henri Rousseau.

Here's something a little different for your lunch hour if you work around the ESP. The New York State Museum is starting a four week Thursday lunchtime film series today called "The Post-Impressionists." Blurb from the announcement:

At the close of the 19th century, artists freely explored the innovations of Impressionism by expanding on the use of color, light, subject, and texture. The 2008 film series examines how the Post-Impressionists helped to usher in a new era of art by paving the way for Modernism.

Today's film is about Henri Rousseau. The next three weeks will cover Paul Gauguin, Gustav Klimt, and Edvard Munch.

Each film is 50 minutes long and will start at noon in the NYS Museum's Huxley Theather. And, yep, you can bring your lunch.

Earlier on AOA: Three things to see now at the NYS Museum

Proposed tax increases for City of Albany and Schenectady County, proposals for Harriman development, crystal balls at ESP trouble some, the Knicks drink coffee in Saratoga

Jerry Jennings' proposed 2009 budget for the City of Albany includes a 4.9 percent tax increase. (That's a projected $100 increase for the owner of a "average" home.) The almost $161 million budget is actually smaller than last year's by about $1 million. Among the cuts this year: 20 firefighter and 10 police jobs will be left vacant. [TU]

In Troy, Harry Tutunjian's proposed budget is four percent bigger than last year's, but it doesn't include a tax increase. The plan aims use to reserves and state aid to cover the increase. [Troy Record]

Schenectady County's proposed budget for 2009 includes a 13 percent tax increase. The county manager, a Democrat, says the cost of state mandates is forcing the hike. County Republicans say the majority Democrats have mismanaged the county's finances through their "out-of-control patronage and liberal programs." [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Banks with local branches say they're in pretty good shape, despite the ongoing banking/Wall Street meltdown. They credit their stability to not being involved with shaky subprime mortgages. [TU] [Saratogian]

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Yellow Blue is back... or is it?

Yellow Blue at ESP

Kelly is said to have thought the ESP needed some color.

The Ellsworth Kelly sculpture Yellow Blue is back in its place at the foot of Building 3 at the ESP. It had been on a sort of spa vacation for the last couple of months. And it's returned looking very refreshed.

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KT Tunstall, Martha Wainwright tonight at ESP

martha wainwright album image

Matha Wainwright. Presumably she'll be right-side up tonight at the ESP.

The At The Plaza concert series has a show lined up tonight that should be pretty popular. KT Tunstall is headlining. You probably know her from "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "Suddenly I See", which has been played in pretty much every TV show and movie trailer over the last year or so.

Also on the bill is Martha Wainwright, daughter of Loudon and Kate McGarrigle and sister of Rufus.

Things get started at 5 pm with locals The Audiostars. Wainwright's scheduled for 6 pm, followed by Leon Russell at 7 pm, and then Tunstall at 8:45. It's free.

The Corning Tower observation deck

a photo of the Corning Tower observation deck

Ever wish you could just rise above it all? Try looking down on your friends and neighbors from the observation deck of The Corning Tower. (It's the reallllly tall building at the end of the capital mall.) You can see the Adirondacks, The Catskills, The Berkshires, The Empire Plaza, even The Governor's Mansion (Is that a tiny steamroller?).

corning_tower_looking_up.jpgIf you live downtown you can walk. Otherwise, park under the plaza. Just bring your photo id. Getting into the tower isn't hard, but you have to jump through a few post 9-11 security hoops. If you enter from the plaza level, you'll have to take the escalator down, present your id and get your picture taken. The guard will print an unflattering photo of you on a name badge.Stick it on and head back up to the plaza level to wait for the express elevator to the 42nd floor.

It's really not as much trouble as it sounds, and on a clear day, it's well worth the view. There are signs below the windows with tips on what there is to see, and a representative from the NYS tourism department is on hand to answer questions. Fun, informative and oh yeah, free.

The Scoop

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Recent Comments

And there it is. Architectural panel. This is what the people in this project think is good enough for you, Troy. I can't wait til this project limps to the finish line in time for the upcoming elections. Then we can just go about calling the building what it really is: The Atrium 2.0

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