The City: Capitol Improvement

The capital cities of the U.S. took shape for the most part when a public building was something with a cupola and plenty of columns. New York's state capitol is a monument to the architectural style that might be called Ugly American—a granite mishmash of Second Empire, Francis I and Romanesque, with Doric columns, Corinthian columns, tile roofs, slate roofs, dormers, chimneys and rusticated stone work. The city it dominates is appropriately dismal. But last week plans were unveiled that will make Albany, in the words of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, "the most beautiful capital city in the United States."

The...

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