The Capital Region is made up of many cities with rich histories in unique industries. There’s Schenectady, the Electric City, which became home to the General Electric Company in 1892; Albany, the Capital City, flush with political tensions and triumphs that was once the state-wide transportation center; and Troy, the Collar City, birthplace of the detachable shirt collar and the Arrow shirt. All three of these cities have ebbed and flowed with the expiration of old trends, the arrival of new ones, and the general regional and national economic status at any given time, but one of the three is in the midst of a monumental comeback that has garnered national attention.
According to the Downtown Troy BID, the Collar City had the country’s fourth-highest wealth per capita in 1840, and reached its peak population of 80,000 in 1910. Its location on the water, which was a primary means of transportation and industrial power at the time, attracted inventors and entrepreneurs who created a number of useful and innovative products. Renowned educational institutions, like the Emma Willard School and RPI, were founded in Troy, which fueled more advancement and accomplishments.
Just when it seemed like Troy would be prosperous well into the future, the importance of water for transportation and power decreased dramatically, and the once thriving population dispersed into other areas. The Great Depression and the middle-class preference for the suburbs both exacerbated Troy’s fall as the once booming city struggled to find a new identity.
In recent years, though, a national emphasis has been placed on urban revival and Troy, with its beautifully preserved buildings and rich history, was a natural candidate for inclusion. Even The New York Times took note of the unique restaurants, shops, bars, and even a start-up incubator springing up throughout the city giving it new life and a new vibe that are both a far cry from the dark days of the twentieth century.
Developers are taking a chance on Troy, renovating the Victorian-era buildings and re-purposing worn out spaces. The revitalization is attracting new residents from all walks of life who all have something to contribute to the city’s new fabric. Although it was once thought that Troy reached its peak at the end of the nineteenth century, it sure seems like the Collar City has a lot more to offer.