Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 24, 2013.

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In 1962 one of the most massive urban renewal projects in American history sterilized the cultural and ethnic heart of Albany, NY.

The Neighborhood That Disappeared

Film Summary

“The Italian is an intensely gregarious creature, comfortable in extended families, crowds, markets, piazzas – in song, debate, commerce. The Italian has for centuries cherished the primary aggregation of the human family and all the versions of the family he could find, in his work, his village, his quarter, his region. And the Italian American is no different.”

The Italian Americans, A. Bartlett Giamatti

In 1962, New York state Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller displaced one-third of Albany’s ethnic population to build his South Mall colossus. An Italian settlement resembling a southern Italian village was swiftly uprooted. Rockefeller’s design was a manifestation of his hubris and will to power. In that moment, a mode of life mixing Old World flavors with mercantile aspirations was dealt a death blow. Albany's Little Italy was a feast for the senses. Its goals embraced the American dream.

Historians ask if Albany’s transformation was a natural evolution of its ethnic center or a sterilization of the city’s cultural essence. Did neighborhood residents that endured the Great Depression and the trenches of World War Two deserve this disregard?When Albany’s political bosses were outmatched by a billionaire governor, they sold the South End for some pieces of silver.

From beneath the cornerstone of the Empire State Plaza, our film team will unearth a vibrant ethnic neighborhood that housed courageous immigrants and the Greatest Generation.Young boys invented street games; goods were exchanged in place of cash; no child grew up anonymously; no one went hungry. In these Italian American stories, viewers will find an inspiring resourcefulness that’s gone missing in America.

Your generous donations will be used to complete film production. The total cost of production and post production is $35,000.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Albany’s Old Italian neighborhood was an important part of Albany’s 400 year history, but it has vanished. Because there was no personal technology during the formative years of the neighborhood, our creative team will use a process that we call “cultural forensics.” There was little technology during this time, no ipad,no digital cameras. Personal cameras were expensive so it is our task to find those who still have super 8 film, old photos, Polaroids and other physical remnants of this neighborhood. We already have 40 hours of video (including many interviews from former residents), and over 700 photos and documents scanned. Our biggest fear is not being able to find all the materials that we need, that is the biggest risk. However we have been successful in locating new resources and repositories of material recently and therefore are quite confident that we can tell our complete story.

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