Entertainment Centers of Downtown Albany

Albany has been the capital of New York State since 1797, and yet many visitors- foreign or domestic- confuse New York City as the pinnacle of all that is New York. When I was taking a walk down in the Empire State Plaza, there was a group of foreign visitors being led around on a tour, and as they passed by, I heard the tour guide ask them what the capital of New York State was. Rather proudly, they all answered New York City. He smugly responded that they were all wrong; it was, in fact, Albany- right where they were standing. They all responded with surprise and disbelief. If Albany is the capital of New York, then why does everyone believe it’s New York City? Our government rests here, yes, but we also have a plethora of entertainment centers that cater to different venue needs and performers. Unlike New York City, our capital offers venues available from national headliner tours, such as those of Frank Sinatra and Green Day at the Times Union Center, to local theaters, like that of the Park Playhouse, which offers a free venue to local community theaters over the warmer months. Everyone from local theater or musical classes, to big-time musical managers will enjoy a walking tour of the many entertainment venues available in Albany, New York, whether they’re on a class trip, taking a stroll on a spring evening, or scoping out their next performing center.

Stops will include:
The Park Playhouse
The Park Playhouse
The Park Playhouse: The Park Playhouse is a theater located in Washington Park along the Washington Park Lake. The purpose of the Playhouse is to “augment the quality of life for a diverse audience in the Capital District by producing FREE musicals and plays in an outdoor setting, and providing arts education programs to young people in the community.”

The Washington Armory: The Washington Armory, formerly constructed as an armory for the Tenth Battalion of the New York National Guard, now provides local sports teams and smaller, local bands a revue in which to perform.

The Egg Theater: Despite sitting in the heart of perhaps the most historic part of New York State, the Egg Theater was only built in the 1960s. The Egg “was established to present quality performances, accessible to all citizens of New York State, highlighting the unique and extraordinary artists from New York State, across the country and around the globe.” It is one of the more popular performing art centers in the Capital District for more national headliners performing in the area.

The Times Union Center: Along with The Egg, the Times Union Center is one of the most notable performing arts centers of the Capital District, with headliners that have included Frank Sinatra, Green Day, and Elton John.

And the Palace Theater: When you imagine what an old-timey theater might have looked like in the height of popularity for musicals, you’d probably imagine the Palace Theater. To this day, the front sign remains lit up with flashing bulbs more reminiscent of jazz clubs and Broadway in the 50s. It stands as the “sole survivor” of a number of similar, flashy theaters that were built in Albany before the 1930s.
The Palace Theater
The Palace Theater

The tour will take approximately 40 minutes, with the longest stretch taking you through Washington Park, and another stretch taking you through the Empire State Plaza.


Both of my photos are the property of private photographers who held events at the two theaters where the photos are included. I think it’s sort of meta, that the photos of are events being held in the places where my entertainment-center-orientated tour is. Three questions I still need to consider:

  1.  When did the Armory turn from an actual armory for the National Guard into an entertainment center? This could be an interesting point to bring up on a guided tour, especially if we’re looking to increase tourism from either entertainment industry leaders or even from a militaristic stand point.
  2. Why is the palace Theater the only theater remaining in Albany from this time period? What happened behind the scenes that ensured its survival? Another interesting point that could be brought up on a guided tour.
  3. How many times has the Times Union Center changed hands/owners? Yet another interesting point that could be discussed on a tour!!

Citations: (in order of use, because I couldn’t figure out if there was a way to insert superscript in a WordPress psot)

“Our Mission.” Park Playhouse. Accessed February 29, 2016. http://www.parkplayhouse.com/mission/.

“About the Armory.” The Armory. Accessed February 29, 2016. http://www.albanyarmory.com/about/.

Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center Corporation. “About – The Egg.” The Egg. Accessed February 29, 2016. http://www.theegg.org/about.

“History.” Timesunioncenter-albany.com. Accessed February 29, 2016. http://www.timesunioncenter-albany.com/center-info/history/.

“History | Palace Theatre | Albany NY.” History | Palace Theatre | Albany NY. Accessed February 29, 2016. http://palacealbany.com/History/History.aspx.


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