Dominating downtown Albany  is the Empire State Plaza (between Eagle and Swan Sts., Madison Ave. and State St.), the extravagant brainchild of Nelson Rockefeller. An enormous marble platform sitting atop a hill, the plaza covers 98.5 acres and includes 11 buildings, among them the Legislative Building, Justice Building, and the Empire Center at the Egg—a round, whimsical performing-arts center. Through the middle of the plaza knifes a long reflecting pool surrounded by modern sculptures.
Visitors to the plaza can relax by the reflecting pool (which becomes a public skating rink in winter), ascend to the 42nd-floor observation deck (9 a.m.–2:30 p.m. daily, free admission) in the Corning Tower, and tour the plaza’s fine art collection of 92 modern sculptures and paintings by the likes of Alexander Calder and David Smith.
Maps are available at the Visitors Assistance Office (Concourse level, north end of the Plaza, 518/474-2418), which also offers tours of the Plaza at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday–Friday.