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The Corning Tower is 44 floors and is the tallest building in New York State outside of New York City. It was constructed as part of the Empire State Plaza complex and was completed in 1966. It houses the New York State Office of General Services. The 42nd floor has an observation deck that is open to the public.


  • Side view of the Empire State Plaza, showing the Corning Tower, the Egg and the Agency Buildings.
  • View from the New York State Capital Building towards the Cultural Education Center.
  • View of Ministries Esplanade in Brasilia, Brazil. There are noticeable similarities with the Empire State Plaza.

The construction of the Empire State Plaza was spearheaded by Governor Nelson Rockefeller after Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands came to Albany in 1959 to celebrate 350 years since Henry Hudson's voyage. Rockefeller was purportedly embarrassed by the condition of the city. This combined with a legitimate need for more office space sparked the creation of the plaza.

The project caused controversy right from the start. The government displaced over 7,000 families using eminent domain privileges to relocate them. The Modernist Architecture contrasts sharply with the remaining adjacent brick row houses. It cost over $2 billion dollars and is the largest and most expensive government complex ever built in North America. It is said to resemble other Modernist architecture, such as the capital city of Brazil which was also constructed in the early 1960s.

In addition to the Corning Tower the Plaza contains four mid-rise buildings known as the Agency Buildings with 23 floors each. The Cultural Education Center, which contains the New York State Museum, Library and Archives is at one end and the State Capital Building is at the other. The Egg performing Arts Center is located on the Plaza. The Plaza also is home to the Law & Justice Building, the Legislative Building and the Swan Street Building which is over a quarter mile long.


Grondahl, Paul. Reassessing the Legacy of the Empire State Plaza. Times Union. May 26, 2015. Accessed March 06, 2017. http://www.timesunion.com/518life/article/Reassessing-the-legacy-of-the-Empire-State-Plaza-6280852.p....

New York State Office of General Services. Accessed March 06, 2017. https://ogs.ny.gov/ESP/CT/Tours/Obdeck.asp.


Willard, Lucas. Exhibit Recognizes History of the Empire State Plaza. WAMC Northeast Public Radio. June 20, 2015. Accessed March 06, 2017. http://wamc.org/post/exhibit-recognizes-history-empire-state-plaza.

Photo with the Cultural Education Center as the focal point: By Tim Schapker (Empire State Plaza, Albany NY) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Other 2 photos are in the public domain.