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 1965 and 1976 at an estimated total cost of $2 billion. It houses several departments of the New York State administration and is integrated with the New York State Capitol, completed in 1899, which houses the state legislature. Among the offices at the plaza are the Department of Health and the Biggs Laboratory of the Wadsworth Center. The Empire State Art Collection, a major public collection of 1960s and 1970s monumental abstract artworks, is on permanent display throughout the site.HistoryThe plaza was the idea of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was inspired to create the new government complex after Princess Juliana of the Netherlands visited Albany for a celebration of the area's Dutch history. Riding with the princess through a section of the city known colloquially as "the Gut", Rockefeller was embarrassed. He later said, "there's no question that the city did not look as I think the Princess thought it was going to".Rockefeller conceived the basic design of the complex with architect Wallace Harrison in flight aboard the governor's private plane. Rockefeller doodled his ideas in pen on the back of a postcard, and Harrison revised them. They used the vast scope and style of Brasilia, Versailles and Chandigarh as models. The massive scale was designed to be appreciated from across the Hudson River, as the dominant feature of the Albany skyline.
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