If Crackers Counted, Troy Would Be Lansingburgh

Lansingburgh, 1861
Lansingburgh, 1861

Like a lot of cities in the 1800s, Troy grew through expansion, annexing neighboring areas whose names are often forgotten. But Troy’s growth wasn’t a foregone conclusion, and there was a time when the residents of the village of Lansingburgh thought it was their fair town that would subsume the once sleepy little farm village to the south. After all (as seen below), they made the most crackers and had the youngest veal, not to mention the most piety.

Before the Revolutionary War, Lansingburgh was much more the cosmopolitan place than the area surrounding the farms of the Van der Heyden family, but after the war, migrating New Englanders started filling in the area that Jacob Van der Heyden laid out as a village, and in 1789 they decided to call it Troy (because “Vanderheyden” was considered “too polysyllabic, Dutch, and strange”).

Nearly 80 years later, there was still something of a rivalry between the villages of Lansingburgh and Troy, as evidenced by this article from the Troy Daily Whig, titled “Troy and Lansingburgh – A Comparison.” Interestingly, while we found this in the Troy Daily Whig of Feb. 7, 1868, it was reprinting an article from the Lansingburgh Gazette – which may explain its belief that in an inevitable annexation, it would be Troy that would disappear.

Some people believe that “comparisons are odious.” To their attention we commend the following excessively modest paragraph: “A movement is made to secure a new charter for Troy. The charter must necessarily define the boundaries of the city and wards. It seems to be conceded that the city under the new charter, will divide several of its larger wards – those which reach 5,000 population and over. There is yet but little said about changing the b boundaries of the city, but the subject will doubtless come up before the matter is wholly disposed of. There is a universal tendency to consolidate near communities under one local government. Within a few years, Buffalo has taken in a large adjacent territory and population; Syracuse has swallowed the old village of Salina; Brooklyn has absorbed Williamsburgh; Boston, Roxbury; Pittsburgh, Alleghany city; and so on. There is a quiet belief entertained in Lansingburgh that the two places will sooner or later be known as one. The question whether Lansingburgh shall take in Troy, or vice verse, is of course yet a mooted one. Troy has the largest population; Lansingburgh the most inviting territory. Troy has the most capital; Lansingburgh the best newspapers. In manufactures, Troy has the most iron, but Lansingburgh beats her to death on oil-cloth and brushes. Troy has many old and highly respectable families; but most of them really originated at an early period of their existence in Lansingburgh, while there is no native Trojan who can be compared in wit, powers of gab, or breadth of shirt collar, to our Cyrus Jones Esq. Troy has water works, a gas factory and a Board of Trade; Lansingburgh, has the Van Rensselaer Trotting Park, Skating Park, the best part of Vail Avenue, and the Regatta Course. Troy is the largest flour market, but Lansingburgh makes the most crackers. Troy is the largest meat market, but Lansingburgh has the youngest veal. Troy has the most churches, but Lansingburgh the most piety. In fact, the two places have a pretty even thing of it on merits. When the time arrives when it is to be decided which is to swallow the other, the smartest town will win, and of course Lansingburgh will triumph.

It is something in this light that our citizens are discussing the matter of “annexation.” The matter will be early discussed by our village debating society, and will doubtless enter to a considerable extent into the spring election. Supervisor Dougrey has already prepared a very handsome map of “The City of Lansingburgh,” on which was is now the city of Troy, is set down as the First Ward. Copies of the map will be sent to the Troy Common Council, for their approval. Squire D. has unfolded his banner of “annexation” on this plan, and such will be his platform for the spring election.

However, it wasn’t until 1900 that the annexation would happen, and when it did, it was the village of Lansingburgh that was absorbed into what was already a vastly greater city of Troy.

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