Troy, New York is located in Rensselaer County at 42.7° North, and 73.7° West. It's current population is about 50000. It is located at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and the eastern end of the Erie Canal.
The land that now consists of Troy was the original homeland of the Mohican tribe. In 1630, the Mohicans sold the land along the banks of the river to Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, and moved inland to resettle. Dutch settlers, sent by Van Rensselaer to build up his patroonship in Rensselaerswijck, arrived in 1634. The first settler was Thomas Chambers, who signed a five year lease to a patch of land in what is now South Troy. By 1663, there were 18 homes built along the bank of the Hudson River. In the early 1700's, the land in and around the settlement was acquired by the Van der Heyden family, and the settlement took the family's name. English settlers became increasingly dissatisfied with the Dutch name of the village and met to change it. On January 5, 1789, the village of Van der Heyden officially changed it's name to the city of Troy.
Troy soon experienced a huge rise in industrial production. It all started with a housewife, Hannah Lord Montague
, that found a more efficient way to do her laundry. Instead of washing her husband's entire shirt every time it developed "ring around the collar
", she simply cut off the collar, washed it, and then reattached it to the shirt. She began telling her friends about her time-saving technique, and soon much of the town was demanding shirts with detached collars. Factories soon sprung out of nowhere to meet this demand, started by Montague's husband and a local pastor,
Ebenezer Brown. Demand grew even larger as detachable collars
became one of the biggest fashion trends
of the 19th century. Even to this day, Troy is referred to as "The Collar City" because of this business.
The business boom escalated with the arrival of Henry Burden. An immigrant iron-worker from Edinborough, Burden settled in Albany and soon took over the Troy Iron and Nail Factory. He renamed the factory "H. Burden and Sons", and began producing agricultural tools. Burden was constantly trying to think of ways to streamline his production, and would often build contraptions to increase his efficiency. He invented a horseshoe stamping machine which allowed a worker to create a horseshoe out of a bar of iron in four seconds. By 1875, he had decreased the time needed down to one second. He also invented the spike system of fastening railroad tracks to ties, and mass produced the spikes for use all over the world. Such high production made it necessary to build a new water wheel for the factory. The one that he built was so massive that it inspired George Ferris to create one of his own that people could ride on for the World's Colombian Exposition.
Troy is probably most well known for it's engineering school, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
was founded in 1824 by Amos Eaton
and Stephen Van Rensselaer III
. It was the first school in North America to teach science hands-on. The school became internationally famous in the late 1800's because of the ingenuity of it's alumni. Among the before-mentioned George Ferris
is also the alma mater
of Washington Roebling
, who was the chief engineer on the Brooklyn Bridge
. After two fires forced the campus to be reconstructed, RPI started offering courses in subjects other than hard science, and is now a world-class university.
Russell Sage College was founded in 1916 by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, and is named after her husband. She wanted to create a school in downtown Troy strictly for the education on women. The school soon attracted not only local women, but students from around the world. During World War Two, the college educated women to fill the employment gap of men leaving to fight. This commitment to education continued after the war, as the college temporarily accepted men for training after returning from the front. This practice was phased out by the mid 50's. Today, Russell Sage has seen a lot of growth, and still remains committed to it's education of women.
Other Misc. Facts:
Sanuel Wilson was a butcher in Troy during the War of 1812. He went out of his way to give supplies of meat to troops that were stationed in East Greenbush, just a few miles away. Some of the troops stationed there were also from Troy, and called him "Uncle Sam", referring to the nickname that his neighbors had given him. This soon caught on with the troops, and Uncle Sam has been an icon of the US Army ever since.
A Visit from St. Nicholas ('Twas the Night Before Christmas) was originally published in the Troy Sentinel newspaper.
Armor plating for the first ironclad, the USS Monitor, came from Iron works in Troy.
Troy had a major league professional baseball team in the late 1800's. Named the Troy Trojans, they played in the National League from 1879-1882. After several name changes and moves, you can now watch a distant cousin of this team play as the San Francisco Giants.
While the Industrial age of Troy may be over, the technology age is now beginning. Using it's great location in the heart of the Northeast, and it's excellent engineering schools at RPI and SUNY Albany, the Tri-Cities has started luring high-technology companies to the "Tech Valley". Companies such as Sematech and Tokyo Electron have recently located large campuses in the area, leading to job growth and economic recovery. However, Troy also tries very hard to maintain it's historical heritage, rehabilitating the historic architecture of the city.
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