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Named after the ancient locale in Homer’s Iliad, Troy, on the eastern bank of the Hudson, about eight miles north of Albany, was once dubbed “Collar City” because of its explosive textile production. Housewife Hannah Lord Montague, frustrated by having to frequently wash her husband’s shirts, also pioneered the convenient concept of the detached collar here. Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, Troy served as a shipping hub for vegetables and meat to boot, but the city was perhaps best known as an epicenter for iron manufacturing, rivaled only by Pittsburgh.

Troy, first settled by the Mahican tribe, then the Dutch, was nearly destroyed by fire three times. It faced more unfortunate hardships, however, when post-Prohibition, a slew of seemingly stable factory jobs dissipated. A diaspora to the suburbs was underway and the city, home to industrial behemoths like the Meneely Bell Company and W. & L.E. Gurley, Co., makers of precision instruments, ushered in an era of economic depression and dilapidation.

troy waterfront
Troy’s waterfront continues to attract new businesses and development, including a major upgrade to Riverfront Park

Photograph by Matt Wade

troy savings bank music hall
The world-famous Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, home to the legendary Odell organ, first opened in 1870

Photograph by Matt Wade

After a long spell of suffering, Troy is assuredly in the midst of a renaissance, fueled by access to such top-notch educational institutions as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Russell Sage College. A modern wave of technology companies has helped Troy honor its past while delving into the future. Consider Ross Technology Park, whose tenants include Ross Valve Manufacturing and Autopart International. Video game companies, like Agora Games, also underscore tech-savvy progress. Wide-ranging businesses, from indoor golf center, OptiGolf; to Ecovative Design, a packaging supply store; to Rare Form Brewing Company, making the likes of Wee Plaid Scottish Ale, all point to a motely commercial resurgence.

“We’re particularly excited with what’s happening downtown. All these new businesses opened, which opened jobs,” says Troy’s mayor, Lou Rosamilia, who notes development has been on the rise since 2012.

Currently, a two-year plan to revamp City Hall is in the works. The $27 million-mixed-use project will meld restaurants and residential spaces, and will also serve as the permanent home of the wildly popular Troy Farmers’ Market. “It will be a nice piece of the downtown jigsaw puzzle,” Rosamilia adds.

Heidi Benjamin is one resident smitten with the changing face of Troy. The wedding photographer, who recently debuted the open-plan events venue, Takk House, in an old Knights of Columbus building with her fiancé, grew up 15 minutes outside of Albany, and moved to Troy three years ago. “It’s hard to find a truly neighborly area to live in, but Troy has this community that is energizing and adorable. Everybody here feels the same way. We actually know our neighbors and help everyone out,” she says.

“It’s hard to find a truly neighborly area to live in, but Troy has this community that is energizing and adorable”

Downtown Troy is now filled with creative businesses, many run by couples, observes Benjamin, who are drawn to its rich architectural past and well-preserved Victorian buildings. Beauty is glimpsed in such marvels as the marble-fronted Hart-Cluett Mansion and the soaring Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. 

“There’s a great demand for people to be downtown now, whether it’s converting historic buildings into homes or simply parking the car and walking around,” says Rosamilia.  

The lively farmers’ market is a weekend ritual, and now, so is wandering through quirky, artsy destinations, including Collar Works gallery, Blue Bird Home Décor, Troy Cloth & Paper, and the Daily Grind. There are no signs of slowing down. Newcomers include Peck’s Arcade, a small-plates restaurant set in a one-time department store in the circa-1874 Clark House from the same couple who opened the Lucas Confectionery, a wine bar in an overhauled downtown bar; Annie Patterson’s Fancy Shop puts antiques and locally crafted goods in the spotlight; Slidin’ Dirty has evolved from a food truck to a brick and mortar restaurant; and the owners of the Shop, a restaurant and bar housed in the old Trojan Hardware store, are currently planning the deli, Harrison’s Corner Market. 

All this positivity has spawned St. Peter’s Health Partners to invest $99 million in the form of the Troy Master Facilities Plan redevelopment project. “It’s a ‘Healthy Future, Healthy Troy’ campaign,” points out Rosamilia. “And it’s a healthier Troy in a lot of ways.”

troy farmers market
Troy Farmers’ Market

Chatting with Troy resident Heidi Benjamin:

Q: What is the biggest change you’ve seen since arriving in Troy?
A: We’ve only been here as a business for under a year, and in that time I would say that at least six to eight businesses have opened. We can’t go to all of them regularly because there are so many.

Q: What are some of your favorite local spots?
A: We usually go to Psychedelicatessen every weekend for the most delicious bagels ever, and we like to visit Muddaddy Flats, our neighbors’ quesadillary. They are the sweetest people.

Q: What do you love most about Troy?
A: The farmers’ market in the summer is pretty much the best place in the world. Nothing compares to getting a delicious coffee and strolling down the riverfront through a sea of vendors smelling fresh bread in the wind.

What to do: Upcoming events in Troy
Read more: All stories about Troy, NY


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