Here are a couple of maps:
Originally, there were even more highways planned. The South Mall Arterial was to extend beyond Empire State Plaza to meet up with a clover-leaf interchange underneath Washington Park and connect with the Mid-Crosstown Arterial.
Seriously, the ridiculous list that I started this post with, the futuristic nightmare of the Plaza and the removal of entire districts from Albany to build the Plaza weren't enough? We were supposed to be at that horrific level of space age? No thanks.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, the construction of Empire State Plaza and the accompanying highway system literally removed everything in the city from Swan Street to the Hudson River, bounded on the north by Washington and Howard Streets and on the south by Madison Avenue. It could take up the area of the currently built downtown. And if you only included actual buildings and not wasted space like parking, you could probably fit 2-3 downtowns in this area. As part of this series, we're visiting.
|Old painting of Albany, looking at the New York State Capitol and City Hall from the south.|
|Recent aerial view of Albany. The Plaza replaced almost everything in the picture above it.|
|The Hudson River is on the bottom of this map. At the top is the Mid-Crosstown Arterial, and its connection under Washington Park. Note the destruction of my neighborhood. (Capital Highways)|
|A rendering of the planned system. See that thing in between Empire State Plaza and the park, where that highway is? That's called Center Square, one of the Capital District's most desirable neighborhoods. (All Over Albany)|
Before the interchange under Washington Park (and by the way, seriously?) the highway would be a sunken 4-laner, much like Rt. 85 near the Harriman State Office Campus. In addition to the parking lot district, in the rest of this series, I will visit the places that would have been
|NY-85 near the Harriman Campus. (Capital Highways)|
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, led the grassroots movement that canceled the highway project. By the time the Mid-Crosstown Arterial was to be built, the highway-building frenzy was over.
|A closeup of the "impoved" Washington Park and underground interchange (outlined). (All Over Albany)|
1. Empire State Plaza: The interchange for this, in downtown Albany, is far beyond overbuilt. It is the site of the South Mall Arterial (the South Mall was another name for Empire State Plaza), the closure of which we've discussed in a previous post. The arterial ends abruptly at Swan Street, and turns around to return to I-787. This is a direct result of the cancellation of the Mid-Crosstown Arterial, which would have met the highway further west in Washington Park. Instead, today there are two empty holes through Empire State Plaza. They'd be a perfect spot for a rail line.
|The green space between the highways is where the South Mall Arterial was to continue. (Google)|
3. On the other side of the Dunn Memorial Bridge, a ramp to nowhere can be found. The highway splits into entrance and exit ramps (of another overbuilt variety), while the roadway in the middle simply ends, similar to the situation at Empire State Plaza. This was meant to continue to the South Mall Expressway, another canceled part of the system, which would have connected to I-90. This was canceled after resistance sparked by the planned demolition of a historic church for the highway project. Do I detect a common theme?
|The "ramp to nowhere" in Rensselaer. As sad as this looks, what a merciful cancellation! (Wikipedia)|
Of course, that was the point.
A bunch of cars zipping unfettered around the bombed-out shell of a city from which they will soon escape to the comfort of suburbia.
For the rest of us, it amounts to nothing short of a nightmare.
|The Albany Skyline dominated by highways and fly-overs. In the front of the picture you can see the "ramps to nowhere" on the Rensselaer end of the Dunn Memorial Bridge. (Google)|
All Over Albany - "The highway that was almost buried under Washington Park" - March 8, 2011. http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2011/03/08/the-highway-that-was-almost-buried-under-washingto
Capital Highways - "Mid-Crosstown Arterial" - 1999-2006. http://www.capitalhighways.8m.com/highways/m-ca/