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. On one side, there are those who feel it is an eyesore that is way too overbearing on the Albany landscape. More importantly, its construction displaced a lot of people and many neighborhoods, changing the feel of the city forever. 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.

What Happened To Albany's Arch of Freedom?

According to 98 Acres in Albany, initial plans in 1963 for the Plaza included a 336 foot high arch at the south end that would have connected the library and museum. 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 pictured below from being a part of the Plaza.

Although the amphitheater was eliminated from the Plaza, things 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 can see below) 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 below?

Here's What The Empire State Plaza Could Have Looked Like:

Check out this rendering from our friends at the Albany Institute of Art:

Credit: Marcel Mutin/ Albany Institute of History & Art
Marcel Mutin/
Albany Institute of History & Art


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