Daily Archives: June 19, 2015

Troy, 1836: The Salubrious City

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In 1836, J. Disturnell of New York City published “The Traveller’s Guide through the State of New York, Canada, &c.” The title wound on for a while, as was the fashion at the time. In addition to its description of Albany, the guide had a little bit to say about Troy as well.

Troy, 6 miles north of Albany on the east side of the river, is the head of steamboat navigation, although sloops ascend through the State-lock situated at the upper end of Troy to Lansingburgh 3 miles, and Waterford, 4 miles north of Troy. The city of Troy is elegantly laid out on a plain considerably elevated above the Hudson, and contains a population of about 17,000 inhabitants. A large proportion of the trade of the Erie and Champlain canals enters at Troy, this city being conveniently situated near the junction of those important channels of communication. In the city and vicinity are numerous cotton, iron, and other manufactories, besides flouring mills, breweries, &c. The public buildings are the Court House, (one of the handsomest in the U.S., built of stone, in the Grecian style of architecture,) several elegant Churches, a Market-House, four Banks, &c. The Troy Female Seminary is situated on the public square, and is a plain but spacious brick edifice. The principal Hotels in Troy, are the Troy House, Mansion House, National Hotel, City Hotel, Mechanic’s Hall, and Washington Hall. The river is crossed at Troy by convenient Horse Ferry Boats, and from the opposite village of West Troy [Watervliet], on the Erie canal, (which place has arisen within a few years, by the capital and enterprise of the citizens of Troy,) there commences a Macadamised road, the best in the State, which extends to Albany. The communication between Albany and Troy, by stages and steamboats, is half hourly, during the day. Steamboats leave daily for New-York, and stages and canal boats leave almost hourly for the north and west.

There is no place on the banks of the Hudson which presents more of the agreeable and interesting than this beautiful city. Situated at the head of navigation, on one of the noblest rivers, it naturally commands an extensive profitable trade from the north and west, and it possesses facilities for its increase scarcely rivaled by any place in the union. Its population must now amount to at least seventeen thousand, and its annual increase surpasses the most sanguine expectations of those who, but a few years since, beheld it comparatively a desolate place in the midst of a wilderness. Confident of its future growth and importance, they exerted themselves to extend its business and influence, and have lived to see their early efforts, for its prosperity and reputation as a city, crowned with success, and their fondest expectations more than realized in its present rank and standing among sister cities. As a place of residence, either temporary or permanent, it presents many inducements, and in point of locality, salubrity, and beauty, is surpassed by no city in the United States. The enterprize [sic] of its merchants and mechanics is proverbial, and no compliment of ours can add to their well earned and established reputation in their respective departments of business. But it is not in these respects only that the place excites attention, and commends itself to the notice of the public. There are other causes that contribute to its prosperity, and other circumstances that indicate its growing importance. Possessed of extensive water power on the neighbouring streams, which flow into the Hudson in the vicinity of the place, it will naturally increase its mechanical and manufacturing operations in proportion to the increase of its population and business; and the consequent demand for the products of such labour, even to the remotest extremities of the channels of trade leading to the city. The turnpike and McAdam roads to Bennington, and the railroad to Ballston and Saratoga, are completed; these, together with a railroad to Schenectady, and a branch railroad to intersect one from Boston; when finished, the means of communication with this city, from all sections of the country, will be most easy and expeditious.

The Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad leaves Troy at Federal street, by the aid of the bridge which crosses the Hudson river, extending from that street to Green Island. The length of the bridge is 1600 feet. It forms eight arches, exclusive of a capacious draw section. The piers, or abutments, are cut stone from Glen’s Falls, Poughkeepsie, and Amsterdam. The bridge stands 30 feet above high water mark. Its frame, built of timber, is 34 feet wide, and well covered. From the bridge to Waterford, four and a half mile, the railroad crosses three spouts of the Mohawk river upon durable bridges erected upon stone abutments. Passing directly through Waterford the road follows along the margin of the Hudson to Mechanicsville, eight miles. From thence it verges and runs westerly twelve miles to Ballston Spa. The greatest ascent in any one mile on the line of the road is 25 feet. On the first twelve and a half miles, from Troy to Mechanicsville, the average ascent is less than 10 feet per mile. Upon Green Island, which, by the bridge, is connected with the city, a site has been selected and laid out for a large business place. It is called “North Troy.” The capital of the Rensselaer and Saratoga railroad Company is $300,000, and this sum, it is believed, will be nearly sufficient to complete the 24½ miles of the railroad, erect a bridge across the Hudson, and three bridges across as many spouts of the Mohawk.