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Troy is a city in New Yorkmarker, U.S.marker, and the county seat of Rensselaer County. As of the 2000 census, the population was 49,170. Troy's motto is Ilium fuit, Troja est, which means "Ilium was, Troy is."

Troy is located on the western edge of Rensselaer County and on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Troy has close ties with the nearby cities of Albanymarker and Schenectadymarker, forming a region popularly called the Capital Districtmarker. The city is one of the three major centers for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the metro area has a population of 850,957. Troy is home to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutemarker, Russell Sage Collegemarker, Hudson Valley Community Collegemarker and the Emma Willard Schoolmarker, and was the hometown of Uncle Sam.


The site of the city was a part of the Rensselaerswyckmarker, a patroonship created by Kiliaen van Rensselaer. Dirck Van der Heyden was one of the first settlers. In 1707, he purchased a farm of which in 1787 was laid out as a village.

A local legend that a Dutch girl had been kidnapped by an Indian male who did not want her to marry someone else gained some credence when two skeletons were found in a cave under Poestenkill Falls in the 1950s. One skeleton was female and Caucasian with an iron ring. The other was Native-American and male.

The name Troy (after the legendary city of Troymarker, made famous in Homer's Iliad) was adopted in 1789, and the region was formed into the Town of Troy in 1791 from part of the Manor of Rensselaerswyckmarker. The township included the current city and the town of Brunswickmarker. Troy became a village in 1801 and was chartered as a city in 1816. In 1900, the city of Lansingburgh was merged into Troy.

In the post-Revolutionary War years, as central New York was first settled, there was a strong trend to classical names, and Troy's naming fits the same pattern as the New York cities of Syracuse, Rome, Utica, Ithaca, or the towns of Sempronius, Manlius, or dozens of other classically named towns to the west of Troy.

Northern and Western New York was a theater of the War of 1812, and militia and regular army forces were led by Stephen Van Rensselaer of Troy. Quartermaster supplies were shipped through Troy. A local butcher and meat-packer named Samuel Wilson supplied the military, and, according to an unprovable legend, barrels stamped "U.S." were jokingly taken by the troops to stand for "Uncle Sam" meaning Wilson. Troy has since claimed to be the historical home of Uncle Sam.

Through much of the 19th and into the early 20th century, Troy was not only one of the most prosperous cities in New York State, but one of the most prosperous cities in the entire country. Prior to its rise as an industrial center, Troy was the transshipment point for meat and vegetables from Vermont which were sent by the Hudson River to New York City. The Federal Dam at Troy is the head of the tides in the Hudson River and Hudson River sloops and steamboats plied the river on a regular basis. This trade was vastly increased after the construction of the Erie Canal, with its eastern terminus directly across the Hudson from Troy at Cohoes in 1825.

Troy's one-time great wealth was produced in the steel industry, with the first American Bessemer converter erected on the Wyantskill, a stream with a falls in a small valley at the south end of the city. The industry first used charcoal and iron ore from the Adirondacks. Later on, ore and coal from the Midwest was shipped on the Erie Canal to Troy, and there processed before being sent on down the Hudson to New York City. The iron and steel was also used by the extensive federal arsenal across the Hudson at Watervliet, New Yorkmarker, then called West Troy. After the American Civil War, the steel production industry moved west to be closer to raw materials. The presence of iron and steel also made it possible for Troy to be an early site in the development of iron storefronts and steel structural supports in architecture, and there are some significant early examples still in the city.

The initial emphasis on heavier industry later spawned a wide variety of highly engineered mechanical and scientific equipment. Troy was the home of W. & L. E. Gurley, Co., makers of precision instruments. Gurley's theodolites were used to survey much of the American West after the Civil War and were highly regarded until laser and digital technology eclipsed the telescope and compass technology in the 1970s. Bells manufactured by Troy's Meneely Bell Company ring all over the world. And Troy was also home to a manufacturer of racing shells that used impregnated paper in a process that presaged the later use of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber composites.

This scientific and technical proficiency was supported by the presence of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutemarker, or RPI, one of the highest-ranked engineering schools in the country. RPI was originally sponsored by Stephen Van Rensselaer, one of the most prominent members of that family. RPI was founded in 1824, and eventually absorbed the campus of the short-lived, liberal arts based Troy University, which closed in 1862 during the Civil War. Rensselaer founded RPI for the "application of science to the common purposes of life", and it is the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world. The institute is known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.

On December 23, 1823, The Troy Sentinel was the first publisher of the world-famous Christmas poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas" or "Twas the Night Before Christmas"). The poem was published anonymously. Its author has long been believed to have been Clement Clarke Moore, but its author is now regarded by a few to have been Henry Livingston, Jr.

Troy was an early home of professional baseball, and was the host of two major league teams. The first team to call Troy home was the Troy Haymakers, a National Association team in 1871 and 1872. One of their major players was Williams H. "Bill" Craver, a noted catcher and Civil War veteran, who also managed the team. Their last manager was Jimmy Wood, reckoned the first Canadian in professional baseball. The Troy Haymakers folded, and Troy had no team for seven seasons. Then, for four seasons, 1879 to 1882, Troy was home to the National League Troy Trojans. The Trojans were not competitive in the league, but they did have the biggest hitter in professional baseball, Dan Brouthers.[19154] For the 1883 season, the Trojans were moved to New York City where they became the New York Gothams, better know later as the Giants. The Gothams had the same ownership as the New York Metropolitans of the rival American Association. As a result classic Met players became Giants, including Hall of Fame Pitcher Tim Keefe. Troy was also the birthplace of the famous player Michael Joseph "King" Kelly.

Troy has been nearly destroyed by fire three times. The Great Troy fire of 1862 burnt the W. & L. E. Gurley, Co. factory, which was later that year replaced by the new W.marker & L.marker E.marker Gurley Buildingmarker, now a National Historic Landmark.

In 1892, there were election riots there during which Robert Ross was murdered. One of his alleged slayers, "Bat" Shea, was executed in 1896.

In 1900 Troy annexed Lansingburghmarker, a former town and village in Rensselaer County. Lansingburgh is thus often referred to as "North Troy". However, prior to the annexation, that portion of Troy north of Division Street was called North Troy and the neighborhood south of Washington Park is referred to as South Troy. To avoid confusion with streets in Troy following the annexation, Lansingburgh's numbered streets were renamed: its 1st Street, 2nd Street, 3rd Street, etc., became North Troy's 101st Street, 102nd Street, 103rd Street, etc. Lansingburgh was home to the Lansingburgh Academy.

Illustration for Arrow Collar, 1907.
In addition to the strong presence of the early American steel industry, Troy was also a manufacturing center for shirts, shirtwaists, collars and cuffs. In 1825, a local resident Hannah Lord Montague, was tired of cleaning her blacksmith husband's shirts. She cut off the collars of her husband's shirts, since only the collar was soiled, bound the edges and attached strings to hold them in place. (This also allowed the collars and cuffs to be starched separately.) Hannah Montague's idea caught on, and changed the fashion for American men's dress for a century. Her patented collars and cuffs were first manufactured by Maullin & Blanchard, which eventually was absorbed by Cluett, Peabody & Company. Cluett's "Arrow shirts" are still worn by men across the country.[19155] The large labor force required by the shirt manufacturing industry also, in 1864, produced the nation's first female Labor Union, the Collar Laundry Union, founded in Troy by Kate Mullany. On February 23, 1864, 300 members of the union went on strike. After six days, the laundry owners gave in to their demands and raised wages 25 percent. There were further developments in the industry, when, in 1933, Sanford Cluett invented a process he called Sanforization, a process which shrinks cotton fabric thoroughly and permanently. Cluett, Peabody's last main plant in Troy was closed in the 1980s, but the industrial output of the plant had long been transferred to facilities in the South.

One of the downtown landmarks of troy was Frear's Troy Cash Bazaar, also known as Frear's Department Store, which was one of the largest in the state.

When the iron & steel industry moved to Pennsylvania and beyond, and with a similar downturn in the collar industry, Troy's prosperity began to fade. After the passage of Prohibition, and given the strict control of Albanymarker by the Daniel P. O'Connell political machine, Troy became a way station for an illegal alcohol trade from Canada to New York City. Likewise, the stricter control of morality laws in the neighboring New Englandmarker states, left Troy with openly operating speakeasies and brothels. Gangsters such as Legs Diamond conducted business in Troy. This gave Troy a somewhat colorful reputation through World War II. A few of the finer houses have since been converted to fine restaurants, such as the former Old Daly Inn. Like many old industrial cities, Troy has had to deal with not only the loss of its manufacturing base, but a drainage of population and wealth to suburbs and other parts of the country. Troy's population in 1910 was over 75,000, more than 50% higher than it is today. These factors have led to a sizable degree of dilapidation and disinvestment, although numerous efforts have been made to preserve Troy's architectural and cultural past.

Troy waterfront circa 1909

Kurt Vonnegut lived in Troy and the area, and many of his novels include mentions of Ilium, (Troy), or surrounding local references. Vonnegut wrote Player Piano in 1952, which is set in Ilium, New York, and is based on his experiences working as a public relations writer at General Electric. His 1963 novel, Cat's Cradle, was written by Kurt Vonnegut in the city, and mentions being in Ilium. His recurring main character, Kilgore Trout, is a resident of Cohoesmarker, on the opposite side of the Hudson from Troy.

Notable Troy residents

  • Kate Mullany, an Irish immigrant who, with her co-workers Esther Keegan and Sarah McQuillan, organized approximately 300 women into the first sustained female union in the country, the Collar Laundry Union, in 1864
  • George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., famous for inventing the Ferris wheel, graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutemarker in 1881 with a degree in Civil Engineering
  • Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, noted African-American abolitionist, political activist, minister and orator. During his time in Troy, he helped to edit and publish two abolitionist newspapers, The National Watchman and The Clarion
  • Stanley King, born in Troy on (May 11, 1883 – April 28, 1951) was the eleventh president of Amherst Collegemarker. He held that position from 1932 to 1946. He was also the uncle of Kingman Brewster, Jr.
  • Samuel Wilson, a butcher and meatpacker during the time of the War of 1812, who is believed to have been the inspiration for the personification of the United States known as Uncle Sam
  • William Marcy, a notable politician of his era, who resided in Troy. Marcy was an associate justice of the New York State Supreme Court, was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the United States Senate, serving from 1831 until 1833 and later became Governor of New York, a position he held from 1833 until 1839. Marcy served as United States Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President James K. Polk and United States Secretary of State under President Franklin Pierce. Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York, and the Town of Marcy in Oneida County are named after him
  • Gary C. Evans, serial killer who went on a killing spree in the New York Capital District
  • John Morrissey, "undefeated boxing champion" (according to The Troy Record), co-founder of Saratoga Race Coursemarker , New York State politician
  • Maureen Stapleton, American film, stage and television actress; won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, and was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame; Hudson Valley Community Collegemarker Theatre is named in her honor
  • John Alfred Kimberly, founder of Kimberly-Clark Corporation, was born in Troy, where his father, John, and grandfather, Hazard Kimberly, were in the construction business; the family later moved west to Wisconsin
  • Yvar Mikhashoff, classical pianist
  • William J. O'Brien, United States Army officer killed during World War II and awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Mame Faye (also spelled Mame Fay, Mayme Fay, etc.), a world famous madam who operated a bordello at 1725 6th Avenue circa 1906-1941. She died at the age of 77 in 1943 and is buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery; her name was engraved on her tombstone in 2006. Once one of the wealthiest businesswomen in Troy, her estate was valued at approximately $300,000 (about $3.4 million now)
  • Horatio Spafford, composer of the well-known Christian hymn "It Is Well With My Soul", was born in Lansingburgh (now Troy), New York
  • Rutherford Hayner, 1877-1941, editor of the Troy Times and author of the three volume set, Troy and Rensselaer county, New York: a history (published, 1925)
  • Herman Melville, (1819-1891) lived in Lansingburgh, his residence today called the Herman Melville Housemarker is on the National Register of Historic Places. He was the author of Moby-Dick, Typee, and many other notable American novels
  • King Kelly, (former) Major League Baseball player
  • Edward Murphy, Jr., New York politician (Mayor of Troy and one-term United States Senator)
  • Mr. Food, Television chef


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.0 square miles (28.5 km²), of which, 10.4 square miles (27.0 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it (5.44%) is water.

Troy is located several miles north of Albany near the juncture of the Erie and Champlain canals, via the Hudson River and is the terminus of the New York Barge Canal. It is the distributing center for a large area.

The city is south of Washington County and is situated in the center of surrounding countryside. On the east are the Berkshire Hillsmarker of western Massachusettsmarker, south is the valley of the Hudson, west the valley of the Mohawk, and on the north the Adirondack Mountains.


As of the census of 2000, there were 49,170 people, 19,996 households, and 10,737 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,721.8 people per square mile (1,823.7/km²). There were 23,093 housing units at an average density of 2,217.6/sq mi (856.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.22% White, 11.41% African American, 0.28% Native American, 3.49% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.20% from other races, and 2.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.33% of the population.According the Census Bureau, the largest self-reported ethnic groups in Troy are: Irish (23%), Italian (13%), German (11%), French (8%), English (7%), and Polish (5%).

There were 19,996 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.6% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.3% were non-families. 36.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 17.6% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median household income was $29,844, and the median income for a family was $38,631. Males had a median income of $30,495 versus $25,724 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,796. About 14.3% of families and 19.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.0% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Mayor Harry J. Tutunjian's State of the City Address dated February 6, 2009, Troy's economy is strong despite a recession affecting the United Statesmarker: "We have not been affected as other parts of the State or the Country. Homes are still selling and new projects are being announced and built."


Troy is home to many samples of Victorian architecture and iron work. The city has a large number of intact Tiffany stained-glass windows in original architectural settings. With much 19th century architecture, particularly in the Central Troy Historic Districtmarker, several major movies have filmed in Troy, including Ironweed, The Age of Innocence, Scent of a Woman, The Bostonians, The Emperor's Club, and The Time Machine. There are many buildings in a state of disrepair, but community groups and investors are restoring many of them.

As with many American cities, several city blocks in downtown Troy were razed during the 1970s as a part of an attempted urban renewal plan which was never successfully executed, leaving still vacant areas in the vicinity of Federal Street. Today, however, there have since been much more successful efforts to save the remaining historic downtown structures.
Northern River Street
Part of this effort has been the arrival of the "Antique District" on River Street downtown. Cafes and art galleries are calling the area home. As home to many art, literature, and music lovers, the city hosts many free shows during the summer, on River Street, in parks, and in cafes and coffee shops. The Troy Farmer's Marketis a popular event since 2000 that occurs every Saturday on River Street during the summer, or in the Atrium of downtown Troy during the winter.

Troy has been known to recognize the contributions of its residents to local music and arts community. Mayor Harry Tutunjian declared February 25 2006 “Super 400 Day in Troy” in honor of the musical group's ten year anniversary.

Many notable artists were born or grew up in Troy, including actress Maureen Stapleton and authors Alice Fulton, Don Rittner and Richard Selzer. Past notable residents include Herman Melville, Emma Willardmarker, Russell Sage, and Jane Fonda. Several books by noted author Kurt Vonnegut are set in the fictional city of "Illium", which is modeled after Troy.

Troy has produced at least three Medal of Honor recipients, including Lt. Colonel William J. O'Brien and Sergeant Thomas A. Baker, both from U.S. Army, 105th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division in World War II, and Specialist Fourth Class Peter C. Guenette from U.S. Army, Company D, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), in Vietnam.

Notable cultural events

  • The Troy Flag Day Parade, one of the nation's largest. The parade is held in early June. With resident school, Troy High, having the biggest participating marching band as of 2007.
  • River Street Festival, an annual, family-oriented arts/crafts and music festival held in June.
  • The Uncle Sam Parade, held on or in proximity to Samuel Wilson's birthday (mid-September).
  • The Classics Project, a classical theatre festival produced by Bakerloo Theatre Project. Between fifteen and twenty emerging theatre artists are provided residency with Bakerloo to develop their craft while performing a repertory season of plays by Shakespeare and other great playwrights. The festival occurs during the months of July and August.
  • The Victorian Stroll, an annual holiday event held in December.
  • The Troy Turkey Trot, an annual Thanksgiving Day Run; the oldest race in the Capital District. From it’s humble beginning in 1916 (with only 6 runners entered) the Troy Turkey Trot has grown into one of the largest road races in upstate New York.
  • Troy Night Out, a monthly (last Friday) event in downtown Troy where shops stay open late, restaurants bring in live entertainment, galleries have openings, and the streets fill up with people and events.


  • The Tri-City Valley Cats, a minor-league Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The team is a part of the New York-Penn League.
  • Troy Fighting Irish, a minor league semi-pro Football club that was established in 2007. They currently play at Troy High School.[19156]
  • Troy was once the home to The 2004-2005 Metropolitan Junior Hockey League(MJHL)Champions, the Hudson Valley Eagles Junior Hockey club who went on place 3rd at the National Tournament in Blaine, MN in 2005 their inaugural season.

Political structure

The Executive Branch consists of Mayor Harry Tutunjian (R), who defeated Frank LaPosta (D) for the position in November 2003 and began his term January 2004. Tutunjian was re-elected to a second term on November 6, 2007 after defeating Jim Conroy (D).

Troy's Legislative Branch consists of a City Council. The Council is composed of nine elected members: three At-Large Representatives who represent the entire city, and six District Representatives who represent each of the six districts of Troy. Each council member serves a two-year term. The City Council At-Large Representative who receives the greatest number of votes in the election is designated the City Council President (currently Clem Campana). The Council meets on the first Thursday of every month at 7:00pm in City Hall, in the Council Chambers on the second floor. All meetings are open to the public, and include a public forum period held before official business where citizens can address the Council on all matters directly pertaining to city government.

The current Troy City Council took office on January 1, 2008, and will serve until December 31, 2009. The members are:

  • Clem Campana (D - At-Large; President)
  • Bill Dunne (D - District 4; President Pro Tempore)
  • John Brown (D - At-Large)
  • Henry Bauer (R - At-Large)
  • Mark Wojcik (R - District 1)
  • Mark McGrath (R - District 2)
  • Peter Ryan (D - District 3)
  • Ken Zalewski (D - District 5)
  • Gary Galuski (D - District 6)

The previous council members (for the period of January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2007) were:

Henry Bauer (R - At-Large; President), Carolin Collier (R - District 6; President Pro Tempore), Marge DerGurahian (I - At-Large), Clem Campana (D - At-Large), Mark Wojcik (R - District 1), Mark McGrath (R - District 2), Peter Ryan (D - District 3), Bill Dunne (D - District 4), and Robert Krogh (R - District 5).

Most of the city resides in New York's 21st congressional district. This seat was held by Congressman Michael R. McNulty from 1989 to 2009. Democrat Paul Tonko, was elected on November 4, 2008 and is currently a member of the 111th Congress.


There were several important educational advances that took place in Troy, especially in scientific education and the education of women.

Under the patronage of Stephen van Rensselaer, Troy was the home of the first strictly scientific academic institution in the United States, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutemarker, founded in 1824, and which trained that corps of students which later founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker, Sheffield Scientific School at Yalemarker, and virtually every subsequent American scientific academic institution.

Emma Willardmarker was a national leader in the education of women, and the author of standard instructional textbooks used for decades nationwide. She was involved in the establishment of several women's colleges, but most especially at Troy the Russell Sage Collegemarker, and the Emma Willard Schoolmarker.

Colleges and Universities

Secondary Schools

Elementary Schools

  • School #1
  • School #2
  • School #12
  • School #14
  • School #16
  • School #18
  • Carroll Hill


Some famous and interesting portions of Troy include:
Painted concrete slabs spelling out the city's name placed on the western slope of Prospect Park.


  1. 'Ilium fuit' is the well-known expression from the Aeneid, where it is the beginning of Parthus' reply to Aeneas. Aeneid, Bk. II., 325. 30 153, and which had come to mean a complete and final end. The second half, 'Troja est', is a defiant declaratory statement that nevertheless, Troy still lives.
  2. "A Resourceful People A Pictorical History of Rensselaer County, New York"
  3. Robert Breuer, Troy's RiverSpark Visitor Center. Retrieved 1 August 2007.

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