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Saratoga Springs, NY

Posted on: January 6th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

SaratogaSpringwaterNamed one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Saratoga Springs is full of history, charm, and character.

Named for the nearby mineral spring, which purportedly has healing powers, Saratoga Springs has many claims to fame.  It is the site of one of the turning points in the American Revolution, the Battle of Saratoga,  it  is home to a world renowned Thoroughbred racing track, and local legend has it as the birthplace of the potato chip and the club sandwich.

Established in 1819, Saratoga Springs was originally the western portion of the Town of Saratoga.  The region was established as a city in 1915.  In 1832 the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad was established, allowing tourists and travelers to come and go with greater ease, and bringing fame to Saratoga Springs’ mineral springs.

Many believed that the springs had magical healing powers, and their reported abilities drew many tourists who hoped to receive their benefits.  Springs can still be found throughout the town, covered in pavilions, marked by plaques, or even just spigots protruding from rocks.   The water has a distinct flavor from spring to spring.  Some are salty, some taste strongly of sodium chloride or other minerals, and some are completely clear and fresh.  Though they may smell strongly of sulfur, there is little to no traces of dissolved sulfur in the water, and it is completely safe to drink.

With so many tourists coming to enjoy the healing powers of the natural springs, many hotels were established, and Dr Simon Baruch began to develop several European style spas as centers for recuperation and health.  Many large hotels were established in this time frame including the Grand Union Hotel, which was at the time the largest hotel in the world.

Toward the end of the 1800s, it was feared that excessive consumption and over pumping of the springs would deplete the resource.  In 1911 the New York State Reservation was established to protect the springs.  It is now called the Spa State Park.

The Saratoga Race Course opened in 1863, giving tourists a whole new reason to visit Saratoga Springs.  The city became well known for horse racing and gambling, though the latter was illegal in the early years of the 20th century.

Today it still has strong ties with its spa resort, and gambling history.  It’s also a great place to learn about American history, being the site of one of the most important battles of the American Revolution, and home to three National Museums.

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