During the Industrial Revolution, Troy was wealthy and on the move. The Erie Canal, Hudson River, and several major rail road lines all came together in this small town that once sparkled with the wealth and trappings of the Gilded Age. Troy, because of its geographic centrality to the technology at the heart of the changes that drove the Industrial Revolution, was a force to be reckoned with and a city to behold.
Troy is now a small town in upstate New York with a well-regarded university that consistently produces ground-breaking applied science scholarships. During Troy’s golden years, the wealth that flowed into this small town rivaled that of nearby New York City. Over time manufacturing shifted away from Troy and the city’s importance as a center of industry declined. Troy’s Gilded Age elite moved away, leaving behind the homes and urban spaces where they once lived, worked, and played.
If you want to take a step back in time and see how wealthy industrialists lived during the Gilded Age, treat yourself to a weekend in Troy. It’s quiet, friendly, full of pristine parks, lovely walks, and you can almost taste the sense of history. It’s well worth the drive from New York City.
1. The Hart-Cluett Historic House Museum
Originally built in 1827, this gorgeous white brick mansion in Troy’s elegant downtown Historic District is a beautifully preserved example of the Federal style of architecture popular both in Troy and New York City during the 19th-century. A visit to this museum allows a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of wealthy 19th-century New York socialites and industrialists.
The Hart-Cluett Historic House Museum
Address: 57 2nd Street, Troy, NY 12180
Website: Hart-Cluett Historic House Museum
2. The Kate Mullany National Historic Site
The Kate Mullany National Historic Site is an unassuming brick house where Kate Mullany, founder of the Laundry Collar Union, once lived. Mullany was an important 19th-century labor union leader. The home was declared a National Historic Site in 2006 and currently houses the American Labor Studies Center. The site is not open to the public.
The Kate Mullany National Historic Site
Address: 350 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180
3. The Burden Iron Works Museum
The Burden Iron Works Museum is housed in a charming building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum explores the roll of the iron and steel industries in Troy’s economic expansion during the 19th-century. The museum places the drivers of Troy’s economic expansion within the region’s larger historical narrative. The museum is open irregular hours and you might need to call ahead to make sure that the heat has been turned on during the winter.
The Burden Iron Works Museum
Address: 1 East Industrial Parkway, Troy, NY 12180
Website: The Burden Iron Works Museum
4. Take a tour of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI, founded in 1824, is one of the oldest universities in the United States specializing in applied technological research. The university’s campus overlooks downtown Troy from a hill close to the Historic District. The Admissions Office organizes campus tours. Tours leave at 10 am and 2 pm, Monday through Friday and at 10 am on Saturday mornings.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Address: 10 Eighth Street, Troy, NY 12180
Website: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
5. Enjoy a walk around Washington Park
Troy’s Washington Park is a privately owned park enclosed by Gilded Age mansions. Think Gramercy Park in New York City. Stroll around outside of the green and enjoy the magnificent architecture of the homes built by some of the 19th-century’s wealthiest industrial families.
Address: Adams to Washington Street and Second to Third Street, Troy, NY 12180
Website: Washington Park
6. See a concert in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Sergei Rachmaninoff and Vladimir Horowitz both graced the stage of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, a venue that continues to host various genres of live music. The building was completed in 1875. The concert hall sits at the top of this unique six story slate grey building with five levels of businesses working away below. The design of the hall creates a sense of acoustic envelopment making for a truly amazing concert experience. The Albany Symphony Orchestra regularly plays at the venue. Free concerts are sometimes offered. Check the website for more information.
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Address: 30 2nd Street, Troy, NY 12180
Website: Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
7. Have a picnic in Prospect Park
Prospect Park is an 80 acre (32 hectare) green space in the middle of the city. The park has tennis courts, picnic areas, a nature trail, and a splash pool sure to entertain younger visitors. Perfect for an afternoon of relaxing in the sun, Prospect Park offers magnificent views and even a few Magnolia trees to discover. Child friendly musical programs are held during the summer.
Address: 65 Prospect Park Road, Troy, NY 12180
Website: Prospect Park
A weekend of walks, relaxation, and history in Upstate New York
A day trip to Troy will delight anyone looking to slow down without having to give up the pleasures of good cafes and independent bookstores. What better way to spend a weekend than in a city filled with magnificent Gilded Age architecture, history, and parks designed for long walks. Troy’s measured pace of life and friendliness make this city on the Hudson River an easy place to enjoy. The downtown Historic District is just the right size for exploring, and this family friendly town is full of green spaces perfect for children. After the non-stop energy of New York City, Troy is an ideal destination for a relaxing getaway.
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