Rensselaer, New York: Wikis


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US 9 and 20 entering Rensselaer, with Albany's skyline looming across the Hudson River
Official name: City of Rensselaer
Name origin: From Kiliaen van Rensselaer, patroon of the region
Country United States
State New York
Region Capital District
County Rensselaer
Landmark Fort Crailo
River Hudson
Elevation 16 ft (5 m)
Coordinates 42°38′48″N 73°44′01″W / 42.64667°N 73.73361°W / 42.64667; -73.73361
Lowest point sea level
 - elevation ft (0 m)
Area 3.3 sq mi (9 km2)
 - land 3.0 sq mi (8 km2)
 - water 0.3 sq mi (1 km2)
Population 7,761 (2000)
Density 2,579.2 /sq mi (996 /km2)
Settled 1630
Incorporated 1897
 - location City Hall
Mayor Daniel J. Dwyer (Democrat)
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 12144
Area code 518
FIPS code 36-61148
GNIS feature ID 0962384
Location of Rensselaer within Rensselaer County and New York
Location of Rensselaer within the state of New York
Wikimedia Commons: Rensselaer, New York

Rensselaer is a city in Rensselaer County, New York, U.S., and is located on the Hudson River directly opposite Albany. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 7,761;[1] in 1920, it was 10,832.[citation needed] The name is from Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original landowner of the region in New Netherland.[citation needed] Rensselaer is on the west border of the county. Earliest settlement occurred as early as 1628. The city has a rich industrial history stretching back to the 1800s, when it became a major railroad hub, a distinction which it maintains as the location of the 14th busiest Amtrak station. It was one of the earliest locations of the dye industry in the United States, and the first American location for the production of Aspirin.




Early settlement and growth

The natives of the area called it Petuquapoern and Juscum catick, and the Dutch claimed the land in 1609 based on Henry Hudson's exploration of the Hudson River. Later the area was called De Laet's Burg in honor of one of the co-directors of the Rensselaerwyck Manor, which included the future city of Rensselaer. Settlement occurred at least as early as 1628. By 1642 there was a brewery and many farms, also a ferry was established by Hendrick Albertsen running from the mouth of Beaver Creek in Beverwyck (Albany) to the future Rensselaer.[2] Greenbush (originally Green Bosch in Dutch) was the earliest settlement from Dutch times, and a second hamlet East Albany, which was the area just north of Greenbush, was already a sizeable hamlet by 1815. The third hamlet that would be incorporated into the city was Bath (also Bath-on-Hudson), which was laid out in 1795 and settled even earlier,[3] it was incorporated as a village in 1874.[4]

Fort Crailo in HABS photo, c. 1940

The Van Rensselaer family, which were the feudal landholders of the entire future Rensselaer County built a residence in the future city of Rensselaer. This property was inherited by Hendrick van Rensselaer, Kiliaen van Rensselaer's grandson, who built Fort Crailo in approximately 1712.[5][6] It was built on the site of where Dominie Megapolensis built his own house in 1642.[7] Crailo was expanded in 1762-1768. At various times, the grounds were used as a campground for British and colonial troops. It is reportedly the place where, in 1755, British Army surgeon Richard Shuckburgh, quartered in the home, wrote the ditty "Yankee Doodle" to mock the colonial troops who fought with the British in the French and Indian Wars. Fort Crailo was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.[5][6]

The hamlet of Greenbush was a tract of land about one square mile in size, and is that portion of the city between Partition and Mill Street. This was purchased in May, 1810 by William Akin, Titus Goodman and John Dickinson from Stephen Van Rensselaer and Stephen N. Bayard, assignees of John J. Van Rensselaer. The village was later incorporated in 1815. A new charter was granted in 1828, which was amended in 1854, and again in 1863, and a new charter in 1871.[2] In 1897, Greenbush was chartered as a city, and its name was changed to Rensselaer. Its limits were extended in 1902 by the annexation of the village of Bath and the western part of the town of East Greenbush.

Industrialization and modernization

In the 1800s Rensselaer became the site of the Boston and Albany Railroad's (B&A) passenger depot, shops, freight houses, round house, and coach yard. It was the site of transfers between trains of the New York Central and the B&A. A ferry transported people to and from the Van Rensselaer Island and downtown Albany at Maiden Lane. In 1871 the Maiden Lane Bridge was built replacing the ferry. In 1903 the channel that separated the island from the mainland was filled in with sand dredged from the bottom of the Hudson River. [8] When the NY Central and the B&A merged in 1900 the island's activities became less important, though a new round house and coach yard was built even as many buildings were demolished.[8]

Hudson River Aniline and Color Works in the early 1900s

In 1882 the Hudson River Aniline and Color Works built their first plant in Rensselaer (building 61), however it burned 13 years later. In 1895 Building 61 was rebuilt and at the same time Building 71 was built as well.[9] It would be acquired by the Bayer Corporation 1903,[10] which then built one of the largest and most up-to-date factories of its time in the US and the Rensselaer plant became the American home for the production of brand-name Aspirin.[11] The US government seized the property in 1917 during World War I as enemy property, Bayer being a German company.[10] It would later be owned by the General Aniline and Film Company, and then BASF.[10] In 1927 it was the first plant to produce solid diazo salts in the United States.[12] The plant went through 12 separate owners or subsidiaries in its lifetime, in the 1990s it was the oldest dye plant in continuous operation and also produced more dye than any other plant in the United States.[12] According to a promotional brochure issued around 1993 by the BASF Corporation the Rensselaer plant was the largest North American dyestuffs production facility.[13] The plant was shut down for good on December 28, 2000.

In 1932 next to the BASF plant, the Port of Albany-Rensselaer was built, mostly in neighboring Albany, but also with 35 acres in the southern part of Rensselaer. The docks on the Rensselaer side were built in the 1970s.[14]

The stubs at the Dunn Memorial Bridge's Rensselaer end, built for the cancelled South Mall Expressway extension to I-90.
Old 1968 Amtrak station

The 1960s were a major time of change for the city of Rensselaer. In 1967 the current Dunn Memorial Bridge was built between Albany and Rensselaer. Though the bridge was to continue east through Rensselaer, with the South Mall Arterial connecting with Interstate 90 at Exit 8, this extension never materialized. In 1968 the Amtrak station in Albany (Union Station) was relocated to Rensselaer; and the Maiden Lane Bridge and all the railroad associated buildings were demolished when in 1969 the Rensselaer City School high/middle school campus was built north of Quackenderry Creek.[8]

In the early 2000s another wave of development has been occurring in Rensselaer. The Rensselaer City School campus is slated to be redeveloped as a mixed-use waterfront community, the developers (U.W. Marx Construction) gave the school land that had recently been annexed from a neighboring town, now in the northern section of the city, and built a new school campus. The redevelopment of the waterfront property is named de Laet's Landing in honor of Johan de Laet. In 2002 the current Albany-Rensselaer station replaced the adjacent 1968 terminal, which is now used as office space by Amtrak. Today's station was built with three tracks (a fourth was planned, but eliminated due to cost) and the station has had fewer than preferable tracks since. In January 2007, it was announced that a fourth track would be built, allowing freight trains to bypass the station and reduce delays.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.3 square miles (8.6 km²), of which, 3.0 square miles (7.8 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²) of it (9.61%) is water. The city is flat along the western and southern areas but the center and northern areas slope steeply to the east.

The city lies next to the Hudson River with Albany County and the city of Albany on the opposite shore. The town of North Greenbush borders the city to the north, and the town of East Greenbush is on the southern border; both towns border the city on the east with the dividing line between the two towns meeting Rensselaer in the middle section of the city's eastern boundary. Rensselaer's southern border is even with the city of Albany's southern border, however the northern border of Rensselaer is slightly south of Albany's corresponding northern border.



As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 7,761 people, 3,397 households, and 1,946 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,579.2 people per square mile (995.5/km²). There were 3,713 housing units at an average density of 1,233.9/sq mi (476.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.11% White, 7.06% African American, 0.27% Native American, 1.10% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.43% from other races, and 2.02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.13% of the population.

There were 3,397 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 16.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,730, and the median income for a family was $40,688. Males had a median income of $29,685 versus $26,291 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,674. About 9.8% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.0% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Rail transportation

Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Rensselaer through the Albany-Rensselaer Rail Station. The Rensselaer stop also serves Albany, the state capital, and Troy, and it is designated in the Amtrak timetable as Albany-Rensselaer. Six Empire Service trains run from Albany-Rensselaer to New York City on weekday mornings and several depart for New York in the evening, returning and terminating at Albany-Rensselaer in the afternoon and late evening. One section of the Lake Shore Limited originates in New York City and one section originates in Boston. The two sections are joined at Albany-Rensselaer and travel on to Chicago as a single train. The eastbound Lake Shore Limited reverses the process at Albany-Rensselaer and splits into two trains for onward travel.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ a b George Baker Anderson (1897). "History of Greenbush, New York". D. Mason and Company. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  3. ^ Dr. James Sullivan (1927). "The History of New York State: Book III". Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  4. ^ "New York Supplement: Volume 58". State of New York. 1899. p. 271. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Fort Crailo". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-12. 
  6. ^ a b James Dillon (1983), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Fort CrailoPDF (303 KB), National Park Service  and Accompanying photos, exterior, from 1965.PDF (1.27 MB)
  7. ^ Paul Huey. "The Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts NHL". Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  8. ^ a b c Stephen Oberon (2008). "Cultural Impact Assessment". U.W. Marx, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  9. ^ "History of Internal Growth of BASF Rensselaer Plant". ColorantsHistory.Org. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  10. ^ a b c "Colorants Industry History". ColorantsHistory.Org. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  11. ^ Diarmuid Jeffreys (2005). Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 1-58234-386-1. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  12. ^ a b Leander Richard (1994). "Rensselaer Dye Industry". AATCC. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  13. ^ "BASF Rensselaer Descriptive Brochure ca. 1993". BASF. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  14. ^ Eric Anderson (September 21, 2008). "Energy fuels Port of Albany growth". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 

Further reading

External links


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