Mayor Corning

Albany Icon, Albany Enigma

By Paul Grondahl

Subjects: American History
Paperback : 9780791472941, 626 pages, September 2007

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Table of contents

Introduction by William Kennedy
Family Tree of Erastus Corning 2nd

1. Mayor for Life: He Left His Heart in City Hall

2. Of Iron and Politics: The Corning Family’s Roots

3. Thy Father’s Will Be Done: The Early Years of Erastus Corning 2nd

4. One Man, Two Families: The Unusual Home Life of Mayor Corning

5. The Never-Ending Story: Dan and Erastus and Their Durable Machine

6. From Albany to Germany: The G. I. Mayor Defends Democracy and Boosts the Democratic Machine

7. From Dewey to DWI: Investigations Against Corning and the Machine

8. An Open Door to All: Mayor Corning at the Office

9. A Big Fish in a Little Pond: The Politics of Mayor Corning

10. Feeding His Soul: The Mayor in Maine and Afield

11. Paving the Pine Bush and Burning Garbage for Profit: Corning and the Environment

12. The Great Manipulator: Corning and the Press

13. From Maine to the South Mall: Corning vs. Rockefeller

14. Long on Years, Short on Accomplishments: The Record of Mayor Corning

15. The Auction: Selling off the Memory of the Mayor

Selected Bibliography
Sources and Interviews
About the Author

Grondahl’s classic biography of Albany’s “mayor for life,” now available in paperback.


Erastus Corning 2nd was elected mayor of Albany eleven times, serving forty-two consecutive years, a tenure unsurpassed in American political history. Now available in paperback, Paul Grondahl's thoroughly researched and comprehensive biography of Albany's "mayor for life" offers a full, sweeping portrait of Corning, the charming, cunning, patrician front man for the dictatorial Albany Democratic machine. Filled with insight and anecdotes, this biography reveals the enigmatic mayor in ways even his closest associates never imagined.

Paul Grondahl is a reporter at the Albany Times Union and the author of four books, including the acclaimed political biography, I Rose like a Rocket: The Political Education of Theodore Roosevelt. His professional accolades include a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award and recognition for feature writing by the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors.


"…features more than enough compelling characters, fascinating anecdotes, and corrupt machine politics to keep the narrative humming. " — Chronogram

"This is an important book for Albany, for anyone interested in political power. " — from the Introduction by William Kennedy

"…a highly readable, meticulously researched and illuminating history of some fascinating and shadowy byways in the politics of the Empire State. " — The New York Times Book Review

"Grondahl evokes his subject with novelistic assurance. " — The New Yorker

"New York named the tallest building in the state north of the Big Apple Corning Tower because it was an apt description of the stature of Mayor Corning. Paul Grondahl's book makes this clear: it is detailed, accurate and eminently readable. " — Mario M. Cuomo

"Mayor Corning is a biographical feast. Here journalism at its finest merges with the art of the novelist. The book indeed resembles a series of fascinating, interlocking novellas. " — R. W. B. Lewis, author of Edith Wharton: A Biography