Posted by: David Giacalone | March 4, 2018

first look at the new Gateway Plaza

. . click on collage for larger version; photos taken 26Feb2018 . .

Schenectady’s long-anticipated Gateway Plaza is now open to the public.  The project redesigned and expanded Liberty Park into Gateway Plaza. This posting is meant as a visual display of the project, with photos taken on February 26 (under a clear blue sky) and March 3, 2018 (with a gray cloud-cover and a blanket of snow). I did not catch every corner, space, or perspective, but I did see how many ideas we have heard about over the past several years have been implemented.

follow-up (Aug. 18, 2018): Jim Salengo, Executive Director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. [DISC], sent out invitations by email yesterday to a select group of Schenectadians, to “a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly redesigned and expanded Schenectady Gateway Plaza in Downtown Schenectady in Downtown Schenectady”, on Thursday August 23, 2018, at 11:30 AM. [Note: I learned from Mr. Salengo late in the morning on Aug. 23 that the event had been postponed, with the new date To Be Announced. No such event was ever scheduled.]

DetailLadyLibertySpotAs an advocate for the return of our Lady Liberty replica statue to her Park, as required in the approved Final Implementation Plan for Gateway Plaza, I was disappointed yesterday afternoon (Friday, Aug. 17), that there is no indication of preparation to return Lady Liberty. (on right, detail from one Final Plan rendering) Here are photos of the condition on August 17 of the location designated in the Final Plan for Lady Liberty’s relocation:

LLspot17Aug2018 . . GP-LLSpot17Aug2018

Also, having seen prior sculpture choices made by designer Mary Wallinger (like the Rusty Girders already in the Plaza and that Orangish Farm Implement Thingy in front of the Central Library), I had hoped for a preview of the Central Sculpture at Gateway Plaza, but as of late on August 17, there is no Central Sculpture. (Maybe Lady Liberty will go back to her true original location, which was the preference of members of the public at a Planning Workshop in 2013.):


Lady Liberty is not the only part of the adopted Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan ignored in the actual execution of the Plan by Mary Wallinger’s LandArt Studio, the “construction administrator” of the Plan (see “pillar-ied at the Plaza“):


. . back to Original Posting (March 4, 2018) . . 

This is not a design review, and visitors to this website and Plaza users should judge for themselves how well Gateway Plaza has fulfilled the primary concepts behind its plan and their own aesthetic preferences:

 . . as a Gateway Park, the space must cater heavily to both the pedestrian and the vehicular user. Another driving factor is the crucial role the park needs to play in providing connectivity between SCCC, the new student housing, Downtown Schenectady, and the historic Stockade Neighborhood. The new design for the park is therefore organized around two strong cross-axes that share a central focal point and organize the park into a series of rooms and spaces that cater to a diversity of uses.

In addition, the Conclusions portion of the GP Implementation Plan [at 25] states that “The proposed design for Schenectady Gateway Plaza should demonstrate” a long list of characteristics, starting with: 

• Function as a Gateway landmark that welcomes visitors to the City

• Utilize contemporary design to reflect Schenectady’s position as an invigorating and sustainable City

• Celebrate Schenectady’s past, present & future

• Be clean and open in appearance to improve visibility and accessibility

 You can learn much more about the project by perusing the Final Report City of Schenectady Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan (November 2012, 119 pp. pdf.)  Mary Moore Wallinger, who many of us also know as Chair of the Schenectady Planning Commission, produced the Gateway Plaza Plan while employed by Synthesis Architects, LLP.  Her LAndArt Studio has been responsible for design, construction documents and construction administration.

As you can see in the collage at the head of this posting, the drawings from the Plan, and the Slideshow below, features of the park include contemporary sculptures, rain gardens, seating terraces and a Great Lawn. The Central Sculpture has not yet been placed and, naturally, the gardens and various plantings must await Spring.

. . rendering of birdseye view of Gateway Plaza . .  

  •  For a larger version of any image in the Slideshow, pause on the chosen photo, right-click, and choose Open Image in New Tab.




This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. CDTA bus shelter, sculpture pillars, modern light-poles

 . . view from urban plaza to Washington Ave.

. . above: sketch of Phase 1 & 2, with Legend . . 

GP-Rendering-LibertyDetail Editor’s Note: There is one issue I must raise, and will soon say more. It has recently been announced that the replica of the Statue of Liberty erected in Liberty Park in 1950, donated by a local Boy Scout troop, will not be returned to the new Plaza, but will be getting a new foster home elsewhere in Schenectady.   As you can see in the Legend in the above Plan drawing (item #6) and in the detail to the left from a rendering in the Final Plan, the original, announced, natural, and very popular plan was to bring Liberty back to Her Home. We should insist that this piece of the Park’s history, and our history, be given a new place of honor in her Park. Click the following link for an “advocacy collage” arguing that we must Bring Lady Liberty Home, and particularly that (despite current excuses) she is not too small to make an adequate impact at the new Plaza.

LibertyPark . . click this thumbnail for a reminder of what Lady Liberty looked like in Liberty Park . .



  1. Any idea whether the Schenectady sign (depicting the Schenectady Massacre in silhouette) will be returned to the park? Sure doesn’t look like it.

    • Thanks for asking. When asked about the removed signs and markers, Ray Gillen wrote earlier this year that the Massacre sign would be going to the NE corner of Church St. and State St., katy-corner to the new Plaza. He said it would be more visible there than previously. There is a truncated base or pole at that corner that could possibly be the eventual location (or it could be for some “smart city” gadget.) You might want to ask him or designer Mary Wallinger about it.

      • Thanks, glad to know it hasn’t been lost. I think the other two are gone.

      • On the other hand, it was last seen lying horizontal, rusting on the grown behind a City garage. I had a photo of it, but it was lost in a computer crisis that ate my hard drive.

        follow-up: December 18, 2018: I’ve located the photo of the Chamber Welcome sign abandoned behind a City garage. Click this link to see it: Horizontal Chamber Sign

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