Rensselaer County, New York

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For the city of the same name, see Rensselaer, New York.
Rensselaer County, New York
RensCoCourthouse.png
Rensselaer County Courthouse
Flag of Rensselaer County, New York
Flag
Seal of Rensselaer County, New York
Seal
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded 1791
Named for Kiliaen van Rensselaer
Seat Troy
Largest city Troy
Area
 • Total 665 sq mi (1,722 km2)
 • Land 654 sq mi (1,694 km2)
 • Water 11 sq mi (28 km2), 1.72%
Population
 • (2010) 159,429
 • Density 244/sq mi (94/km²)
Congressional districts 19th, 20th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.rensco.com

Coordinates: 42°41′N 73°17′W / 42.683°N 73.283°W / 42.683; -73.283

Rensselaer County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 159,429.[1] Its county seat is Troy.[2] The county is named in honor of the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owner of the land in the area.

Rensselaer County is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History[edit]

Map of Rensselaer County in 1829

The area that is now Rensselaer County was inhabited by the Algonquian-speaking Mohican Indian tribe at the time of European encounter. Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a Dutch jeweler and merchant, purchased the area in 1630 and incorporated it in his patroonship Rensselaerswyck. (It was part of the Dutch colony New Netherland).[3]

The land passed into English rule in 1664; the Dutch regained control in 1673, but the English took it back in 1674. Until 1776, the year of American independence, the county was under English or British control.[4] The county was not organized as a legal entity until after the Revolution in 1791, when it was created from an area that was originally part of the very large Albany County.

In 1807, in a county re-organization, the rural sections of Troy were set off as Towns, and the city was incorporated. The two towns created were Brunswick and Grafton, both named after British dukes, (the of Brunswick and Grafton). A third town, Philipstown, was set off in 1806. In 1808 it was renamed Nassau after the duke of that area.

Geography[edit]

A farm in Brunswick

Rensselaer County is in the eastern part of New York State. The eastern boundary of Rensselaer County runs along the New YorkVermont and New YorkMassachusetts borders.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 665 square miles (1,720 km2), of which 654 square miles (1,690 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (1.72%) is water.[5]

The terrain runs from level and flat near the Hudson and then rises into the Rensselaer Plateau around Poestenkill and Sand Lake, then to the Taconic Mountains along the Massachusetts state line.

The highest point is Berlin Mountain, 2,818 feet (859 m) above sea level, in the town of Berlin. The lowest point is sea level at the Hudson.

The Hoosic River, a tributary of the Hudson River, is in the north part of the county.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 30,442
1810 36,309 19.3%
1820 40,153 10.6%
1830 49,424 23.1%
1840 60,259 21.9%
1850 73,363 21.7%
1860 86,328 17.7%
1870 99,549 15.3%
1880 115,328 15.9%
1890 124,511 8.0%
1900 121,697 −2.3%
1910 122,276 0.5%
1920 113,129 −7.5%
1930 119,781 5.9%
1940 121,834 1.7%
1950 132,607 8.8%
1960 142,585 7.5%
1970 152,510 7.0%
1980 151,966 −0.4%
1990 154,429 1.6%
2000 152,538 −1.2%
2010 159,429 4.5%
Est. 2012 159,835 0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the census[7] of 2010, there were 161,129 people, 62,694 households, and 39,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 233 people per square mile (90/km²). There were 69,120 housing units at an average density of 109 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 88.73% White, 7.14% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 1.71% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. 5.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.3% were of Irish, 14.7% Italian, 12.8% German, 7.5% English, 6.2%French, 5.3% American and 2.3% Puerto Rican ancestry according to Census 2010. 95.4% spoke English and 2.7% Spanish as their first language.

There were 61,094 households out of which 33.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.80% were married couples living together, 12.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.80% were non-families. 27.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.20% under the age of 18, 10.10% from 18 to 24, 29.10% from 25 to 44, 23.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,905, and the median income for a family was $52,864. Males had a median income of $36,666 versus $28,153 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,095. About 6.70% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.90% of those under age 18 and 6.60% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics[edit]

Rensselaer County Office building, which houses county offices, including that of the County Executive
Rensselaer County Courthouse located on the corner of Congress and 2nd Streets in Troy

Beginning in 1791, Rensselaer County was governed by a Board of Supervisors, which acted as the Legislature, with the chairman of the board serving as a de facto Executive.

In 1970, the Rensselaer County Legislature was created, which elected Edward J. "Ned" Quinn as Chairman. The Chairman served as the equivalent to an executive until the office of County Executive was created in 1972. Since its creation, Democrats have never won the office, although they controlled the Legislature until 1994. One notable candidate for Executive was Edward Pattison who was later elected to Congress, and whose son Mark served two terms as Mayor of Troy. The current county executive is Kathleen M. Jimino. Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 20 members representing 17 different communities, separated into six districts. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (11 Republicans, 6 Democrats and 3 Conservatives that caucus with the Republicans):

District 1 – Troy:

  •    Cindy Doran (D)
  •    Mark Fleming (D)
  •    Peter Grimm, Minority Leader (D)
  •    Edward Manny (D)
  •    Gary Pavlic (D)
  •    Leonard Welcome (D)

District 2 – North Greenbush, East Greenbush, and Poestenkill:

  •    Robert W. Bayly (R)
  •    Philip Danaher, Vice Chairman-Finance (C)
  •    Louis Desso (C)
  •    Leon Fiacco (R)
  •    Kelly Hoffman (C)

District 3 – Brunswick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown:

  •    Thomas Walsh (R)
  •    Todd J. Tesman (R)
  •    Kenneth Herrington, Majority Leader (R)

District 4 – Schodack, Sand Lake, and Nassau:

  •    Judith Breselor (R)
  •    Martin Reid, Chairman (R)
  •    Alex Shannon (R)[8]

District 5 – Hoosick Falls, Hoosick, Grafton, Berlin, Stephentown, & Petersburgh:

  •    Stanley Brownell, Vice Chairman (R)
  •    Lester Goodermote (R)

District 6 – Rensselaer:

  •    Mike Stammel (R)
Rensselaer County Executives
Name Party Term
William J. Murphy Republican January 1, 1974 – December 31, 1985
John L. Buono Republican January 1, 1986 – May, 1995
Henry F. Zwack Republican May, 1995 – May 13, 2001
Kathleen M. Jimino Republican May, 2001 –

Communities[edit]

Map of towns, cities and villages within Rensselaer County

School districts[edit]

The county is serviced by 16 school districts. Some are completely contained in the county while some cross county lines into other counties. No school districts cross either the Vermont or Massachusetts state borders. Below is a table that shows the districts within the county, which BOCES they belong to, and which other counties they may serve.[9]

District BOCES[10][11] Other counties
district serves
Averill Park Central School District Questar III None
Berlin Central School District Questar III None
Brunswick (Brittonkill) Central School District Questar III None
Cambridge Central School District WSWHE BOCES Washington County
East Greenbush Central School District Questar III Columbia County
Hoosic Valley Central School District Questar III Washington County
Hoosick Falls Central School District N/A Washington County
Ichabod Crane Central School District Questar III Columbia County
Lansingburgh Central School District Questar III None
Mechanicville City School District WSWHE BOCES Saratoga County
New Lebanon Central School District Questar III Columbia County
North Greenbush Common School District Questar III None
Rensselaer City School District Questar III None
Schodack Central School District Questar III Columbia County
Troy City School District Questar III None
Wynantskill Union Free School District Questar III None

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Note: Linked titles redirect to a free, full-view version hosted by Google Books, HathiTrust, or the Internet Archive.

External links[edit]