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History of Troy, New York

Troy, the seat of Rensselaer County, is a city on the east bank of the Hudson River. It is at the head of navigation on the Hudson and is also the northernmost point reached by Henry Hudson on his voyage of discovery in 1609. The area was included in the grant of land to the Van Rensselaers in 1629. The area that was to become Troy was first settled by the Vanderheyden family, who decided around the time of the American Revolution to subdivide their farms in order to establish a town. The town was laid out in 1786, but in 1789 the residents chose to rename it Troy, after the ancient city in Asia Minor. The first village charter was obtained in 1791. During the War of 1812, Watervliet Arsenal, one of the largest in the United States, was established nearby. Troy was created a city in 1816. The Champlain and Erie canals originate north of the city and their openings in 1823 (the full length of the Erie Canal opened in 1825) brought an increase in shipping to Troy's waterfront. The first college of science and engineering in the English-speaking world was Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, established in Troy in 1821. The first institution of higher education for women in America was Troy Female Seminary, now the Emma Willard School. The first detachable shirt collar was "invented" by Hanna Montague in 1827, when she cut off the collars of her husband's shirts in order to ease the load of laundering them. Her husband began a company to manufacture them and Troy became known as "Collar City." The Rensselaer County Historical Society is located in two historic townhouses in Troy. The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was built in 1875 above the bank's own premises. At RiverSpark Visitor Center, visitors can see exhibits on subjects such as the Burden Water Wheel, perhaps the most powerful water wheel ever built. St. Mary's Hospital originated when a local pastor requested the assistance of the Daughters of Charity in caring for fever-stricken immigrants in the 1840s. In 1893, Leonard Hospital opened in the northernmost portion of the city on property bequeathed by a local physician. The two combined in 1995 as Seton Health. Samaritan Hospital opened its doors in 1898, located at first in the former premises of the Troy Orphan Asylum, where it stayed until moving to its current premises in the early 20th century.