Troy, New York - Encyclopedia

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TROY, a city and the county-seat of Rensselaer county, New York, U.S.A., at the head of tidewater on the eastern bank of the Hudson river, opposite the mouth of the Mohawk, about 6 m. N. of Albany and about 148 m. N. of New York City. Pop. (1880), 56,747; (1890), 60,956; (Icoo), 60,651, of whom 14,384 were foreign-born (7348 being Irish, 17 9 6 German and 1498 English) and 400 were negroes; (1910, census), 76,813. Troy is served by the Boston & Maine, the New York Central & Hudson River and the Delaware && Hudson railways, and by interurban electric lines connecting with Saratoga and Lake George on the north, Albany on the south and Schenectady and the cities of the populous Mohawk Valley on the west; it is at the head of river steamboat navigation on the Hudson, and has water communication by means of the Erie and Champlain canals with the Great Lakes and Canada. The site is a level oblong tract extending along the Hudson for 7 m. and reaching back a mile or so from the river to highlands which rise to a height of 400 ft., with Mt Ida (240 ft. above tidewater) forming a picturesque background. The older part of the city and the principal business and manufacturing district occupies the low lands; the newer part, chiefly residential, is built upon the heights. The northern part of the city was the village of Lansingburg (pop. 1900, 12,595) until 1901, when with parts of the towns of Brunswick and North Greenbush it was annexed to Troy. Opposite Troy on the west bank of the Hudson, and connected with it by bridges, are Cohoes, Watervliet and Waterford. Industrially and commercially they virtually form a part of Troy. Troy is the seat of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded. in 1824 by Stephen van Rensselaer as a "school of theoretical and practical science," incorporated in 1826, and reorganized in 1849 as a general polytechnic institute. It is the oldest school of engineering in the country, and has always maintained a high rank of efficiency. The large gifts (about $1,000,000) to the school made by Mrs Russell Sage in 1907 enabled it to add courses in mechanical and electrical engineering to its course in civil engineering. The institute had 55 instructors and 650 students in 1910. The Emma Willard School, founded as the Troy Female Seminary in 1821 by Mrs Emma Willard (1787-1870), 1 is one of the oldest schools for women in the United States. Other educational institutions include Troy Academy (1834), a non-sectarian preparatory school; La Salle Institute (conducted by the Brothers of the Christian Schools); St Joseph's Academy (Roman Catholic) and St Peter's Academy (Roman Catholic). Noteworthy buildings of a public and semi-public character include the post office, the public library, containing in 1910 43,500 volumes, the Troy Savings Bank building, the city hall, the Rensselaer county court house, a Y.M.C.A. building and St Paul's Episcopal, the Second Presbyterian and St Mary's (Roman Catholic) churches. An area of 175 acres is comprised in the city's parks, the largest of which are Prospect Park and Beman Park. In Oakwood cemetery, 400 acres, are the grave of General George H. Thomas, and a monolithic shaft to the memory of General John Ellis Wool (1784-1869), who served with distinction in the War of 1812 and in the Mexican War, and in the Civil War commanded for a time the Department of Virginia. In Washington Square there is a Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, 93 ft. high. Altro Park, on an island a short distance down the river, is a pleasure resort in summer.

Two rapid streams, Poesten Kill and Wynants Kill, flowing into the Hudson from the east, through deep ravines, furnish good water-power, which, with that furnished by the state dam across the Hudson here, is utilized for manufacturing purposes. In 1905 the value of Troy's factory product was $31,860,829. Of this $11,271,708 was the value of collars and cuffs (89.5% of the value of the total American product), an industry which gave employment to 49.3% of the wage-earners in Troy, and paid 42.1% of the wages. Closely allied with this industry was shirt-making, with an output valued at $4,263,610. Troy is the market for a fertile agricultural region, and the principal jobbing centre for a large district in north-eastern New York and eastern Massachusetts.

The site of Troy was part of the Van Rensselaer manor grant of 1629. In 1659 it was bought from the Indians, with the consent of the patroon, by Jan Barentsen Wemp, and several families settled here. In 1707 it passed into the hands of Derick van der Heyden, who laid out a large farm. During this early period was known variously as Ferryhook, Ashley's Ferry and Van der Heyden's Ferry. In 1777 General Philip Schuyler established his headquarters on Van Schaick's Island in the Mohawk and Hudson, then the principal rendezvous of the army which later met Burgoyne at Saratoga. After the close of the war there was an influx of settlers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont; a town was laid out on the Van der Heyden farm, and in 1789 the name of Troy was selected in town meeting; and in 1791 the town of Troy was formed from part of Rensselaerwyck. The county-seat was established here in 17 9 3, and Troy was incorporated as a village in 1794 and was chartered as a city in 1816. The first newspaper, The 1 Emma Hart was born in Berlin, Connecticut, became a teacher in 1803, and in 1809 married Dr John Willard of Middlebury. Vermont, where she opened a boarding school for girls in 1814. In 1819 she wrote A Plan for Improving Female Education, submitted to the governor of New York state; and in 1821 she removed to Troy. Her son took charge of the school in 1838. She prepared many textbooks and wrote Journal and Letters from France and Great Britain (1833).(1833). See the biography (1873) by John Lord.

Farmer's Oracle, began publication in 1797. In 181 2 a steamboat line was established between Troy and Albany. Troy benefited financially by the War of 1812, during which contracts for army beef were filled here. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 contributed greatly to Troy's commercial importance. During the Civil War army supplies, ammunition and cannon, and the armour-plate and parts of the machinery for the "Monitor" were made here. The first puddling works were opened in 1839, and Troy was long the centre of the New York iron and steel industry; in 1865 the second Bessemer steel works in the United States were opened here. Troy has three times been visited by severe conflagrations, that of June 1820 entailing a loss of about $1,000,000, that of August 1854 about the same, and that of May 1862, known as "the Great Fire," the destruction of over Soo buildings, and a property loss of some $3,000,000.

See Arthur J. Weise, History of the City of Troy (Troy, 1876), and Troy's One Hundred Years (Troy, 1891).

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