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Rensselaer County
County
Seal of Rensselaer County
Name origin: For the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owners of Rensselaerswyck
Country United States
State New York
Region Upstate New York
District Capital District
Towns
Cities Troy, Rensselaer
Villages
Capital City of Troy
 - elevation 30 ft (9 m)
 - coordinates 42°43′53″N 73°41′30″W / 42.73139, -73.69167
Highest point Berlin Mountain
 - location Town of Berlin, on border with Massachusetts
 - elevation 2,818 ft (859 m)
 - coordinates 42°41′32″N 73°17′08″W / 42.69222, -73.28556
Lowest point Hudson River at sea level
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Area 665 sq mi (1,722 km²)
 - land 654 sq mi (1,694 km²)
 - water 11 sq mi (28 km²)
Population 161,130 (2020)
Density 243 / sq mi (94 / km²)
Incorporated 1791
County executive Kathleen M. Jimino
Timezone Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
Area code 518
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County


Map of Rensselaer County showing the cities, towns, and villages
Map of Rensselaer County showing the cities, towns, and villages


Wikimedia Commons: Rensselaer County, New York
Website: www.rensco.com

Rensselaer County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2020 census, the population was 161,130. Its name is in honor of the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owner of the land in the area. Its county seat is Troy. It is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History[]

For the history of Rensselaer County prior to 1791, see Albany County, New York

Map of Rensselaer County in 1829

The area that is now Rensselaer County was originally inhabited by the Mohican Indian tribe until it was bought by the Dutch jeweler and merchant Kiliaen van Rensselaer in 1630 and incorporated in his patroonship Rensselaerswyck (which, in turn, was part of the Dutch colony New Netherland). The land passed into English hands in 1664 until the Dutch regained control for a year in 1673, but the English took it back in 1674. Until 1776, the year of American independence, it was under English or British control.[1] However, the county didn't actually exist as a legal entity until 1791 when it was created from land that was originally part of Albany County.

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

Geography[]

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 York-Vermont and New York-Massachusetts borders.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 665 square miles (1,723 km²), of which 654 square miles (1,694 km²) is land and 11 square miles (30 km²) (1.72%) is water.

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[]

Demographics[]

Historical populations
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%
[2][3][4]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 152,538 people, 59,894 households, and 39,050 families residing in the county. The population density was 233 people per square mile (90/km²). There were 66,120 housing units at an average density of 101 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.13% White, 4.69% 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. 2.11% 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 and 5.3% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.4% spoke English and 2.0% Spanish as their first language.

There were 59,894 households out of which 31.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.80% 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[]

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

United States presidential election results for Rensselaer County, New York[6]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 36,500 45.96% 40,969 51.59% 1,940 2.44%
2016 33,726 47.13% 32,717 45.72% 5,119 7.15%
2012 29,113 42.77% 37,408 54.96% 1,540 2.26%
2008 32,840 44.39% 39,753 53.73% 1,393 1.88%
2004 34,734 47.90% 36,075 49.75% 1,705 2.35%
2000 29,562 43.20% 34,808 50.86% 4,066 5.94%
1996 23,482 34.72% 34,273 50.68% 9,870 14.60%
1992 28,937 38.80% 29,793 39.95% 15,850 21.25%
1988 35,412 51.18% 33,066 47.79% 719 1.04%
1984 43,892 61.94% 26,755 37.76% 217 0.31%
1980 32,005 45.89% 29,880 42.84% 7,862 11.27%
1976 40,229 57.76% 28,979 41.60% 445 0.64%
1972 48,864 66.87% 24,019 32.87% 188 0.26%
1968 34,674 50.49% 30,232 44.02% 3,775 5.50%
1964 20,814 28.88% 51,170 71.01% 76 0.11%
1960 40,124 52.59% 36,109 47.33% 61 0.08%
1956 55,186 72.90% 20,516 27.10% 0 0.00%
1952 51,453 66.57% 25,734 33.29% 109 0.14%
1948 40,375 56.71% 28,468 39.98% 2,354 3.31%
1944 37,819 55.51% 30,173 44.29% 139 0.20%
1940 39,648 54.97% 32,387 44.90% 97 0.13%
1936 34,772 50.67% 31,754 46.27% 2,095 3.05%
1932 30,606 47.66% 32,783 51.05% 828 1.29%
1928 32,370 48.90% 33,094 50.00% 727 1.10%
1924 30,549 55.88% 19,783 36.18% 4,341 7.94%
1920 28,810 56.08% 20,224 39.37% 2,337 4.55%
1916 14,968 51.21% 13,822 47.29% 440 1.51%
1912 10,853 39.48% 11,684 42.50% 4,954 18.02%
1908 17,196 54.92% 13,162 42.04% 953 3.04%
1904 17,631 56.72% 12,529 40.31% 925 2.98%
1900 17,228 55.03% 13,464 43.01% 614 1.96%
1896 17,221 55.71% 13,119 42.44% 574 1.86%
1892 13,666 45.64% 14,879 49.69% 1,397 4.67%
1888 15,718 49.62% 15,410 48.65% 549 1.73%
1884 13,759 48.66% 13,414 47.44% 1,102 3.90%



From 1884 through the 1988 campaign, voters in Rensselaer County chiefly supported the Republican candidate, though the county has since swung to a majority voting for the Democrat, with Donald Trump in 2016 the sole Republican to carry the county since.

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. The Board of Supervisors form of government was terminated as a result of a class action lawsuit brought by Troy attorney Marvin I. Honig on behalf of his wife, Nedda, during March 1968. Mr. Honig brought this lawsuit to declare that the Board of Supervisors, as constituted, violated the "one man, one vote" principal declared by the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Honig's motive in bringing the lawsuit was to punish the Rensselaer County Republican Party chairman and certain members of the Board of Supervisors for defaulting on an agreement with him. The NY Supreme Court ruled in Honig's favor, and ordered the creation of a legislative body. Several plans were offered, but a plan proposed by Honig was adopted by the Court, and its decision was affirmed by the Appellate Division and Court of Appeals. The first "Honig Plan" was drawn to favor the Democratic party, which had not had control of the county government in decades. That plan, which controlled the 1969 election, resulted in the Democrats winning control of the new Rensselaer County Legislature. Thereafter, following a change of leadership in the Republican party, Honig brought a new plan, drawn to favor Republican candidates, to the court, which adopted his revised plan. The second "Honig Plan" was affirmed by the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals. The Republican candidates won back the County Legislature in the 1971 election, and Honig became the Renssselaer County Attorney, a position he held for well over a decade. A full explanation of the creation of the Rensselaer County Legislature can be found at http://nassau-stories.blogspot.com/2006/04/reapportionment.html. See also: The Troy Record, July 8, 1971, page 1.

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 Steve McLaughlin (R).

Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 19 members representing 17 different communities, separated into six districts. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (12 Republicans, six Democrats, one Conservative that caucuses with the Republicans, and one Conservative who caucuses with the Democrats):

District 1 – Troy:

  • Template:Party shading/Coalition/block Bobby Burns (C)
  •    Cynthia B. Doran (D), Deputy Minority Leader
  •    Mark J. Fleming (D)
  •    Peter D. Grimm (D), Minority Leader
  •    Erin Sullivan-Teta (D)
  •    Carole C. Weaver (D)

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

  •    Robert W. Bayly (R)
  •    Leon B. Fiacco (R)
  •    Thomas Grant (R)
  • Template:Party shading/Coalition/block Kelly Hoffman (C), Vice Chairperson

District 3 – Brunswick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown:

  •    Dan Casale(R)
  •    Kenneth Herrington (R), Majority Leader
  •    Todd J. Tesman (R)

District 4 – Schodack, Sand Lake, and Nassau:

  •    Scott Bendett (R)
  •    Robert R. Loveridge (R), Vice Chairperson for Finance
  •    Chuck Peter (R)

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

  •    Bruce Patire (R)
  •    Jeffrey Wysocki (R)

District 6 – Rensselaer:

  •    Michael Stammel (R), Chairman
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 – December 31, 2017
Steven F. McLaughlin Republican January 1, 2018 – present

Cities, towns, villages, and other locations[]

  • Averill Park
  • Berlin (town)
  • Brunswick (town)
  • Castleton-on-Hudson (village)
  • East Greenbush (town)
  • East Nassau (village)
  • Grafton (town)
  • Hampton Manor
  • Hoosick Falls (village)

  • Hoosick (town)
  • Nassau (town)
  • Nassau (village)
  • North Greenbush (town)
  • Petersburgh (town)
  • Pittstown (town)
  • Poestenkill (town)
  • Rensselaer (city)
  • Sand Lake (town)

  • Schaghticoke (town)
  • Schaghticoke (village)
  • Schodack (town)
  • Stephentown (town)
  • Troy (city)
  • Valley Falls (village)
  • West Sand Lake
  • Wynantskill

School districts[]

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.[7]

District BOCES[8][9] 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[]

  • List of counties in New York
  • List of county routes in Rensselaer County, New York
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Rensselaer County, New York

References[]

Further reading[]

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Rensselaer County, New York. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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