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Troy: A Collar City History by Don Rittner
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Troy: A Collar City History (2002)

by Don Rittner

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Although I'm annoyed that the author didn't provide dates for most of the photographs, and I would have preferred the section about all of the great Troy fires to be earlier on in the book, and some of the organizing could have been better (it went from chronological to not-so-chronological to almost chronological again, which was a bit confusing), overall the book was a great history of Troy. I don't think it's terribly comprehensive, but I'm not sure if such a book exists.

It was great reading about what a huge impact Troy has made, and continues to make today, on the rest of the country, and even the world. Troy was the home of the very first woman's labor union, it started the collar industry and was a huge player in the iron industry. Many of the nation's bells were cast in Troy, including the current Liberty Bell.

Troy also had an impact in sports, home to a few popular heavyweight boxing champions in the late 1800s, as well as being home to a National League baseball team. Although the Trojans were cut from the NL because of Troy's relatively small size, many of the players were transported to the Giants, helping to give birth to a sports team that still exists to this day.

The chapter on RPI was also interesting, as it is my alma matter, and while I found it somewhat lacking, there are several dozen books out there detailing the history of the nation's first science and technology university (and I own at least one of said books). It also briefly covered the Emma Willard school and Russel Sage College. All three schools have Amos Eaton to thank in part (although he is mostly responsible for founding RPI), and he is certainly one of my heroes, being a proponent not only of the teaching of the sciences, but of teaching the sciences to women. Had it been up to him, RPI would have been open to men and women from the very beginning. (Sadly, it took over a hundred years for RPI to start admitting women for full-time study.)

I found the portions of Troy's early history (in the 1600s and 1700s) to be fascinating, but, unfortunately, I don't think the chapters were written terribly well, and I found them a bit hard to follow. But it was interesting to follow Troy from a sparsely populated agricultural area to the bustling city it became in the 1800s and 1900s. Once industry moved out of the northeast, Troy started on a slow descent which it is only now beginning to spring back from. Sadly, due to fires in the 1800s and heaping quantities of "urban renewal" in the 1970s, many of Troy's architectural gems have been lost forever.

Lastly, I really loved how the author made note of some of the relics of Troy's history that are still available today. I will probably go through the book again and make myself a walking tour of the city to see these things with my own eyes next time I'm back at home. This includes the last remaining cobble stone road which exists north of Hoosick Street.

Overall, this is a very good book for anybody who's interested in finding out more about the great city of Troy, NY. ( )
  lemontwist | Dec 28, 2009 |
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Trying to write the history of Troy, New York, in 160 pages is equivalent to trying to fit a gallon of water in a thimble.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0738523682, Paperback)

The New World, and especially New York, meant unparalleled opportunity for people in the 1600s with visions of expansion, colonization, and profit. Buying land from the Mohican tribe, the Dutch took control of much of the modern Empire State in the early part of this country's development. Under the patroonship of Kilian van Rensselaer, many pioneer farmers settled in the fertile land along the Hudson River. With each passing year, the number of Upstate settlers increased, and two villages emerged: Lansingburgh and Vanderheyden, soon to become Troy.

Troy: A Collar City History chronicles the transformation of the city from an untamed wilderness inhabited by the early Mohican tribe into a vibrant, modern industrial metropolis. Troy's story is truly a complex drama, supported by a host of entrepreneurs, inventors, immigrant workers, labor leaders, scientists, athletes, and artists, against a changing backdrop of war, depression, industrial revolution, and prosperity. The city's most significant characters come alive within these pages, such as "Uncle Sam" Wilson, an early-nineteenth-century meat packager who served as the model for this nation's patriotic icon; Amos Eaton, the "father of geology" and founder of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Emma Willard, a pioneer in the field of female education; and Kate Mullaney, a leader in local female unionization. This unique volume explores the old cobblestone streets, the historic downtown district, and the many factories producing iron, stoves, paper boats, bells, and of course, detachable shirt collars.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

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