Albany’s South Mall Part 5 Shovel Ready?

February 1961 

The re-invention of New York’s  Capital City was viewed by Governor Rockefeller as the renewal of Albany, but also as a pilot program.   Albany would serve as a test case for  a  state and local partnership to reinvigorate  the  decaying cites of New York State.  His ability  to  pull this off would serve be a feather in his cap when he ran for re-election in 1962,  and when he sought his party’s presidential nomination in 1964, which he most assuredly would.  Time was of the essence. The Harriman State Office Campus would be completed on his watch, the new State University at Albany construction would begin shortly and serve as a model for enhancement and expansion of New York’s public college and university system. It  would  rival, if not surpass, that of California, the best in the nation.

 Albany would be the crown jewel, garnering national, perhaps  even international attention.  It would be a modern city, stripped of the old, surrounded by a modern transportation network of highways  moving  hundreds of thousands of people every day around the jewel. It would be a model of efficient government and public administration. It would provide empirical evidence of what Rocky could do for the country, as he reached for the national brass ring.

As I mentioned before, Rocky’s ideas weren’t new, they were shared by most governments in the Northeastern corridor and in the Midwest   Older , rusting cities needed to be brought into the 20th century.  Kennedy, the new president, was just as eager  at a national level.  if we could put a man on the moon, we could make it happen across the country. Money was no object.  Massive re-development was the ultimate stimulus package for a sagging economy.

Feb 1, 1961

feb 1 1961 2

And JFK was more than willing to help Mayor Corning, despite Rocky’s being a  potential opponent in the 1964 election.  The Democratic Machine’s ability to deliver votes within the City and County of Albany was on a par with the  great political machines of Chicago and Boston.  Such was the power of Mayor Corning and Dan O’Connell,  legendary political boss for over 30 years.  During the days of the hard fought 1960 Democratic presidential primaries a special visit had been paid by close Kennedy aides to the Mayor and Uncle Dan (as he was known).  (And since this is Smalbany, they went to visit Dan at his house, and of course the neighborhood was atwitter when we saw the limos on my street during that visit.  

Additionally. Joseph Kennedy,  JFK’s father,  owned an office building on State St. and had been the major owner of RKO when it built the Palace Theater.  Everything is intertwined.

February 6, 1961

feb 6 1961

February 8, 1961 

feb 8 1961 2

February 14, 1961

feb 14 1961

The consensus of those who had moved to suburbia  was that Albany needed many things to draw them back to the urban core – a convention center, better lighting , parking and removal of “eyesores”.

February 2, 1961

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feb 2 part 2

February 4, 1961

feb 4 1961Although Mayor Corning had already commissioned a study and plan to re-invent the city, a housing survey conducted by the State was moving forward, designed to elicit formation about available housing stock at all income levels, deteriorated areas, community development needs, and needs of employees.  All this information would be correlated with urban development activities all ready under way  (cart before the horse?) .  The results of the survey would not be made public  (LOL- how times have changed), but provided to the Mayor to  release as he saw fit.

February 4, 1961 

feb 4 1961 2

The survey of downtown business was moving along as well.  The urban planning firm of Candeub, Fleissig & Associates has been retained by  city merchants .  The Candeub firm has been retained by the Mayor two years prior  to develop  the urban renewal plan for  Albany that had been made public only recently.

Candeub was the the largest and most powerful urban planning firm in the nation at time.  As federal money for urban re-development became abundantly  available across  the country, Candeub was  recommended to large and small cities  everywhere by federal housing officials. isadore Candeub was the primary partner in the firm, and a 1948 graduate of MIT with a degree in  city planning,   Candeub was  ubiquitous in municipal and environmental planning almost everywhere; Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, California,  Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and even Alaska.  Candeub’s approach to urban planning epitomized the time. It was all about the modern, the new, and efficiency, with the little thought to what we today call “social capital’. Candeub, i think,  was the most influential single entity in urban planning throughout the  1960’s and into the 1970’s and put its stamp on America that would persist for generations.

(I’m not going into the a long discussion of the 1960’s approach to urban planning.  For anyone who is interested, I recommend  the work of  Jane Jacobs, one of the first ( and most influential) activists in fighting conventional urban planning in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Get a copy of  her book, The Death and Life of  Great American Cities (1961) and Robert Caro’s The Power Broker (1975), the story of Robert Moses.

February 8, 1961

feb 8 1961 e3

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One comment

  1. Diane Geddes · · Reply

    Very interesting Julie..never knew of the JFK support and his fathers connection to albany…loved the one article that asked if albany would still have parking problems in the futuristic 1999… Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 17:49:53 +0000 To: keyboardqueen@hotmail.com

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