Professor Dave Hochfelder--Recently awarded the

Presidential Initiatives Fund for Research and Scholarship

“98 Acres in Albany” will chronicle the biggest story in the history of Albany since its founding by the Dutch—the State’s 1962 appropriation of 98 acres in the city center for construction of a futuristic statecapitol complex. The making of the Empire State Plaza demolished about 1,200 buildings and displaced about 8,000 people, making it one of the nation’s largest urban renewal projects in proportion to a city’s population. The Empire State Plaza remains controversial decades later—blamed for Albany’s problems or credited for the city’s turnaround. Nobody is neutral and everybody has a tale—but the broader story of the Plaza’s conception and construction has been only partly told.

We will tell this story through two main products: a website and companion book. Our major product will be a website that will digitally reconstruct and repopulate the entire 98-acre take area. The overall goal of the website is to document the area as completely and accurately as we can on the eve of the 1962 demolition. This website will rely on about 1,500 to 2,000 photographs held by the Albany Institute of History and Art (AIHA), the New York State Archives (NYSA), and the Times Union morgue. We are able to repopulate the neighborhood using city directories and archival sources held by NYSA and the Albany County Hall of Records, as well as extensive oral history interviews with former residents.

The second major product of this project will be a companion book, published through the Excelsiorimprint of SUNY Press. The volume will be a collection of photo-essays that will narrate and contextualize the experiences of displaced residents and business owners. We are posting drafts of these photo-essays at and our public outreach work is at these social media sites:

Professor David Hochfelder recently appeared on WNYT, News Channel 13, to discuss his "98 Acres in Albany" project, which digitally reconstructs the 98 Acre neighborhood that was demolished to build the Empire State Plaza in 1962. Click here to see the interview: 98 Acres in Albany.