Albany Almost Had An “Arch of Freedom” At Empire State Plaza
Forget the St. Louis Arch: at one time, the "Arch of Freedom" was planned for the Empire State Plaza in Albany.
I do not think there is a more polarizing piece of real estate in the Capital Region than the Empire State Plaza in Albany. On one side, there are those who feel it is an eyesore that is way too overbearing on the Albany landscape. Plus, its construction displaced a lot of people and many neighborhoods. For others, it gives the city a signature skyline and is just an impressive place to visit. Maybe if plans for the 'Arch of Freedom' had come to fruition, folks would be more unified on how they feel about the Plaza.
According to 98 Acres in Albany, initial plans in 1963 included a 336 foot high arch at the south end of the plaza that would have connected the library and museum. You can see a rendering of the original design on the Albany Institute of Art website. 98 acres says what was to be called the "Arch of Freedom" also was supposed to include a 1,500 seat amphitheater and a "...shrine including a preliminary draft of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation" at its base. Ultimately, the cost and needs of the surrounding buildings kept the arch from being a part of the Plaza.
Ultimately, the amphitheater that was eliminated from the Plaza still worked out ok for us music fans as they still do plenty of live concerts outside on the Plaza. But imagine how much cooler the Plaza would be with a 30 plus story arch that you would probably be able to go up in? Maybe then the Plaza would be a little more awe-inspiring for all. Or maybe the haters would just hate it even more. Either way, when Albany missed out on its Arch of Freedom, we probably missed out on a well-known, historical piece of architecture becoming a trademark for the city and its skyline.
And imagine how perfect the Empire State Plaza Christmas tree would look sitting right under the arch?
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