This photo Thursday (ahem, Friday, I’m a little late this week) features a rather unremarkable picture of Albany’s Empire State Plaza. While it’s an interesting area of public space, it is often lamented as a brutalist eyesore that scars the downtown landscape. What many don’t know is that in the 1960s, Nelson Rockefeller thought this area, which at the time was occupied by a neighborhood in decline, needed to be demolished and replaced by something grand. The massive Plaza project displaced 7,000 residents via the use of eminent domain, a scar that is still felt today in the heart of the city.
When we view cities today, it’s vital to understand their history so that we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.