Articles Posted in Showcase

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361 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgWhile it might seem that there are a lot of cities in the Greater Capital Region, since they outnumber counties 13 to 11, this ratio is a bit on the high side insofar as there are only as many cities in the state as there are counties: 62. Therefore, on average, each county has its own city. Of course, in the case of New York City, that particular city has five counties (Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), Richmond (Staten Island), and Queens; called boroughs of the city itself). As a result, you’ll find that the counties of the far northern and western reaches of the state have very few cities.

And like New York City’s boroughs, most cities have similar divisions, though mostly for political purposes, called wards. Some (especially the larger cities) are also broken down into historic neighborhoods or ethnic enclaves. In the future, when I devote significantly more time to each particular city, these wards, neighborhoods, and enclaves will be showcased as well.
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359 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgEarly in the development of Upstate New York, the extensive network of rivers and streams were of the utmost importance in developing forts along the early frontier, some of which grew into cities. However, those cities situated by or near canals (the Erie and the Champlain) experienced even greater growth as key trans-shipment points into the vast interior of Upstate. Later, those cities that sat astride railroads grew astronomically compared to those areas bereft of train service. In the mid-1900s, air travel loomed large, but with few Upstate cities taking advantage of it. However, Albany International Airport filled the gap (though it is actually located in the town of Colonie).

After the age of air travel came the age of the interstates. Unfortunately, the interstates did as much to hurt the cities as it did to help them. Sure, the larger cities mostly benefitted, but the smaller ones had their downtowns and economies gutted by now easy access to sprawling malls in the suburbs. Some were able to take advantage of this change (Albany especially); however, most were not as interstates bypassed them altogether.

The next frontier is the age of the internet and cyberspace, and the Greater Capital Region is doing its best to capitalize on that as well. With the massive and state-of-the-art College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, at SUNY at Albany, and various technology parks such as the Luther Forest Technology Campus and RPI’s Rensselaer Technology Park, the Greater Capital Region has placed itself at the core of the Tech Valley of the northeast. So, we’ve already been through wars, boats, trains, planes, and automobiles. Now we’ve moved on to fiber optics, silicon chips, and the ether itself. Get ready for the next wave of massive economic growth in the region.
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357 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgSome cities are so small, it makes you wonder why they became cities in the first place. In fact, many of the cities of Upstate New York would probably only qualify as villages by Downstate standards, based on population alone. In the case of the City of Mechanicville, it happens to be the smallest city in the entire state (though not the least populous). Of course, just because a city is not so populous today doesn’t mean it was always that way. This is especially the case when a city becomes overly dependent on one industry. If and when that industry leaves the city, the city is effectively gutted and the population diminishes greatly, in search of greener pastures.
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355 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgCities in the northeast, especially those of Upstate New York, have taken a beating since the 1960s. Industries left or went bankrupt, urban renewal decimated downtowns, interstates bypassed congested areas within and surrounding cities, and population itself shifted towards the south and the west, well away from the north and the east. As industries left cities, tax bases eroded and urban blight grew in once prosperous areas. Almost all of the thirteen cities of the Greater Capital Region are mere shadows of their former glories, possibly with the exceptions of Albany and Saratoga Springs. With every new census, most of the cities have fewer and fewer residents.
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353 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgWater is the lifeblood of cities. Look even to the three counties in the Greater Capital Region without cities in them: Greene, Schoharie, and Washington. Yet, Catskill could easily be a city, but for its being a village, situated as it is on a prominent piece of ground between the Hudson River and the mouth of the Catskill Creek. And the villages of Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, situated as they are on prominent bends in the Hudson River, could also just as easily be cities.

And while Schoharie County is landlocked, its three large villages of Cobleskill, Middleburgh, and Schoharie all sit in the largest floodplains of the county, along the Cobleskill and Schoharie Creeks. Cobleskill sits in the western gateway, as the major arteries of N.Y. Route 7, Interstate 88, and the CSX rail line can attest, moving out of the Mohawk-Hudson watershed and into the abutting Susquehanna watershed. Middleburgh sits in the southern gateway, as the artery of N.Y. Route 30 can attest, moving into the abutting Delaware watershed to the southwest.

These cities and villages exist where they are for very good reasons, all of them strategically placed, firstly for defense of an old frontier and secondly for the riches that come from key trans-shipment points.
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351 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgMost cities grow from hamlet into village into city; a group of people that just keeps getting bigger and bigger, with more and more industry. And, usually, cities grow in distinct areas, and in distinct ways, often sprawling along the shores of major rivers or important streams, acting as trans-shipment points from land to water. That’s certainly the case with most of the cities in the Greater Capital Region. The cities of Albany, Glens Falls, Hudson, Mechanicville, Rensselaer, Troy, and Watervliet, all sit along the shores of the Hudson River. The cities of Amsterdam and Schenectady sit along the shores of the Mohawk River. The city of Cohoes is lucky enough to sit beside both rivers. So, what gives with the cities of Gloversville, Johnstown, and Saratoga Springs? Well, both Gloversville and Johnstown sit astride the Cayadutta Creek, along which the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad carried their glove trade to Schenectady and beyond, from 1867 to 1984. Saratoga Springs stands alone among the thirteen cities as being apart from any bodies of water. And there is a good reason for this: horses. Of course, the irony is that while the other twelve cities sit beside bodies of water, Saratoga Springs sits above one – and is the only city renowned for its waters, hence its name.
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349 Post Depositphotos_3390366_XS.jpgThis series is an introduction to the thirteen (13) cities of the Greater Capital Region. Depending upon where you are from, these might not look like cities at all, just overgrown villages. If you are from Downstate, and consider the city of Albany to be Smallbany, then these other cities won’t even show up on your radar.

And even some Upstaters might consider the smaller cities to be villages. That can certainly be said for the tiny cities of Hudson and Mechanicsville. Of course, we will get to the many villages in the area in the next series.
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347 Post Depositphotos_2048407_xs.jpgOn to the far northern reaches of the Greater Capital Region. Both Warren and Washington counties are large though quite dissimilar. Washington County is all premium farmland settled amidst the Taconic foothills while Warren County is largely forested with scattered lakes amidst the southeastern Adirondacks. And but for its northern tip, you will find within Warren County the always cold Lake George.
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345 Post Depositphotos_2048407_xs.jpgAnd now on to the smallest county and the least populated county. Schenectady County is the epitome of the Greater Capital Region in that it encompasses within it almost everything you will find everywhere else in the region, from the gritty urban to the bedroom community suburban to the remote rural. Schoharie County is picturesque with probably the friendliest people in the entire region. Take a walk down the Main Streets of the various villages and it’s like stepping back into the 1950s; it feels like home. Better yet, take a day off and go exploring over its rolling hills. Check out Howe Caverns and, just down the road, Secret Caverns.
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343 Post Depositphotos_2048407_xs.jpgWhile people often view Upstate New York as this sort of monolithic entity, it really is a meaningless term as so few people can agree on what precisely is encompassed by “Upstate New York”. Some people consider any part of the state north of New York City to be Upstate New York. Some think it’s north of Westchester or Putnam. Others draw a line from the Southern Tier east across the Delaware and Hudson Valleys and consider anything north of it to be Upstate New York. Still others would consider Central New York and Western New York to be a part of Upstate New York.

A far better measure of place is that provided by the metes and bounds of a county’s borders. And, even then, that might be too large as well. Some counties are so large that they, too, are broken down into smaller constituents, with people saying they are from South County of North County or something similar. That’s where cities, towns and villages come in, the smallest meaningful municipalities found within the state.
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