There was a buzz in the air Wednesday as Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito cut the ribbon to the Grand Staircase on the Empire State Plaza, re-opening it after nearly two years of construction. Destito used the occasion to announce the 2016 Summer at the Plaza concert and festival schedule.
This year’s concert series includes a wide range of jazz, reggae, classic rock and country music performers. The fun doesn’t stop with the concert series as Destito also detailed a variety events that will take place on the plaza throughout the summer.
The biggest, and historically most popular event, will be the New York State 4th of July Celebration, presented by Price Chopper and Market 32. This event is a yearly celebration that has taken place since the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976. This day will feature music, food and the largest fireworks display in the Capital Region.
There will also be events celebrating Black and Hispanic culture and heritage that will include live music, dance, food and arts native to those cultures.
The Empire State Plaza will also host a series of outdoor movie nights, perfect for families and kids of all ages. The movies playing include Big Hero 6, Gaslight, and the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
The reconstruction of the State Cultural Education Staircase has been completed on schedule so concert goers will once again be able to sit on the stairs and enjoy shows on the main stage at the south end of the Plaza.
“The staircase project was a major undertaking, and the OGS staff and contractors who worked on it are to be applauded for getting the job done and making the steps safe and secure for years to come,” Destito said. “We know people will appreciate having the steps back. They are the perfect place to sit while listening to the great music and viewing the amazing pyrotechnics display on Independence Day.”
The main focus of the reconstruction project was to completely re-waterproof the Grand Staircase that forms a bridge over Madison Avenue. This was a 40-year-old structure that leaked at the expansion joints at the top where it connects to the Cultural Education Center and at the bottom where it connects to the Plaza.
The work, which began after the staircase was fenced off on July 11, 2014, involved removing all of the granite steps and exterior marble panels, replacing the waterproofing membrane, flashings and drainage system, and then resetting all the steps.
More than 170 concealed stairway lights were replaced with new energy efficient LED lights, which are expected to reduce energy usage by more than 90 percent. Also, new railings were set into the granite steps. A real-life jigsaw puzzle, each piece of the staircase was numbered and cataloged so that it could be returned to its original location.
“One of New York State’s most significant examples of architecture is whole again,” said State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “With the opening of the Empire State Plaza staircase as summer begins, the many thousands of visitors to the city and Plaza can fully experience the great programs, art, and architecture here.”
The Capital Concert Series is presented by New York state craft breweries. The schedule is:
- Wednesday, June 15, 5 – 9 p.m. Jazz Night, featuring Rachelle Ferrell and Cyrus Chestnut, with opening act Out of the Box.
- Wednesday, June 29, 5 – 9 p.m. Legendary Sons Night, featuring Shooter Jennings, Devon Allman and The Mallett Brothers, which features the sons of David Mallett of the original Mallett Brothers.
- Wednesday, July 6, 5 – 9 p.m., Reggae Night, featuring Beres Hammond. Performing with Hammond are DJ Inferno and The Harmony House Singers, with opening act The Big Takeover.
- Wednesday, July 13, 5 – 9 p.m., Classic Rock Night, with Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice and Dylan Elise. Opening act is Troy’s own Super 400.
- Wednesday, July 20, 5 – 9 p.m., Rhythm & Blues Night, featuring Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears.
Opening act is Sonny Knight and the Lakers.
- In addition to the annual Fourth of July Celebration, other special events include:
- Kids Day, starring Choo Choo Soul, on Saturday, July 9, Noon – 5 p.m.
- The Black Arts and Cultural Festival, starring Sounds of Blackness, on Saturday, August 6, 2 – 7 p.m.
- The New York State Food Festival, starring The Commodores, on Wednesday, August 10, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Hispanic Heritage Celebration, starring Michael Stuart, on Saturday, September 10, 5 – 10 p.m.
No alcoholic beverages, coolers or glass containers of any kind will be allowed at these events.