“One Hundred Years is Only the Beginning”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The city that has “history” at the core of its motto: Health, History, Horses, celebrated a major milestone on Tuesday, April 7 as a large contingent of citizens gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Saratoga Springs.
“One hundred years is only the beginning,” noted Mayor Joanne Yepsen, who noted how proud she was to be serving as mayor at this particular time. Looking forward, the mayor listed a number of significant centennial events to come during the year long celebration, including:
- -June 1: Dedication of Centennial Park in Congress Park
- -June 22: A reenactment of the first city council meeting
- -June 26: Rededication of the Spirit of Life and Trask Memorial
Everything surrounding this event touched upon the city’s rich history. The official act that made Saratoga Springs a city was signed into law on April 7, 1915 by Governor Charles S. Whitman, following a vote of the state legislature. Mayor Yepsen introduced some descendants of the first city council members, as well as former members of the council themselves, in addition current office holders (or their representatives) from local, state and national government.
The historic site of the gathering, the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center, was opened in 1915 as a station for the Hudson Valley Railway. It later became used as known as the Drink Hall in the 1940s, where people would gather to taste the waters from the city’s many mineral springs.
Mayor Yepsen introduced Assistant City Attorney (and history aficionado) Tony Izzo, who further painted a picture of the fledgling city a century ago. Dressed authentically for a century ago (down to the bowler hat and pocket watch) Izzo stated that in 1915, a gallon of gas was 15 cents, a good steak might cost you 20 cents a pound, and one of the earliest ordinances the first city council passed was that “No chickens or pigs could run free in the City of Saratoga Springs. Izzo noted that this piece of groundbreaking legislation “…was still in effect today.”
He also spoke about the architectural appearance of the city 100 years ago, saying that if you walked down Broadway, many of the buildings of that era, such as City Hall (which was originally Town Hall, built in 1871) and the Adirondack Trust building were standing at that time. However, once you got off Broadway the character of the city appeared to be much more agricultural in nature than it is today.
What followed could be called nothing less than a parade of proclamations, presented to the mayor from officials and representatives of political officials at all levels of government. Sean Shortell represented U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko and noted how, as a native to the area, he was thrilled to be here on this day.
Mark Streb, Capital District Regional Representative for Governor Andrew Cuomo, took note of the large turnout at the Visitor Center, saying that he has been to several similar anniversary celebrations throughout the state, but none were as well attended. “The true greatness of a community comes from the people that live there,” he said.
From the State Senate, Tom Lewis represented Kathy Marchione and Mike Manson spoke on behalf of Hugh Farley.
Assemblyperson Carrie Woerner was in attendance. Her proclamation called Saratoga Springs “a place of singular renown.” County Supervisor Peter Martin then read portions of a proclamation from the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
After the proclamations and ceremony, Mayor Yepsen reached back again into the city’s history – inviting attendees to sample the waters from the springs, as people did in the old Drink Hall – along with learning the details and history about each from expert Trent Millet, who leads tours of the springs and lectures on the subject.
For a complete calendar of centennial events and more information, visit saratogacentennial.com