The Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza (known commonly as the Empire State Plaza and less formally as the South Mall) is a complex of several state government buildings in downtown Albany, New York. The complex was built between 1959 and 1976 at a total cost of $1.7 billion. Governor Rockefeller was inspired to create the new government complex after Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Albany for a celebration of the area's Dutch history.
The plaza houses several departments of the New York State administration, and is integrated with the old New York State Capitol, completed during 1899, which houses the state legislature. The Empire State Plaza consists of various marble and steel buildings, seated on a six-story marble platform. Their exterior columns and narrow windows make them similar in style to the World Trade Center towers, which were completed about the same time. The buildings comprising the plaza include: the four Agency office buildings, the Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd Tower, The Egg (a theater), the Cultural Education Center (New York State Museum, Library, and Archives), the Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice, the Legislative Office Building, and the Swan Street Building. The plaza is connected to the Times Union Center (a covered arena) by a pedestrian bridge and to the New York State Capitol by an underground tunnel.
Several memorials are located on the plaza, including the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial as well as memorials for World War II and the Vietnam War. The scale of the buildings in the plaza is impressive, and the complex is the most easily recognizable aspect of the Albany skyline. The Corning Tower is the tallest building in New York state outside of New York City. The Concourse is Albany's "Underground City" completed during 1961 with eateries, banks, a YMCA, a post office, a visitors center, and several retailers. The Concourse connects all buildings of the state plaza and also features various works of art and sculptures.