A Brief History of the Mount Ida Neighborhood - The Boom

[Figure 12] Between 1855 and 1893, the Fifth Ward would comprise between seven and ten percent of Troy’s population.  By 1890 it was the second largest ward in the city, home to almost ten percent of Troy—a remarkable fact when one considers that in 1845 it had been the smallest of all the wards.*  The convergence of advantages such as tremendous waterpower, a well-developed transportation network, industrial ingenuity (epitomized by the nearby Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), entrepreneurship, a constructive stance toward immigration and the wisdom to diversify beyond grist and saw mills ensured Mount Ida’s steady growth.  The economy was not tied to any single commodity as was often the case in the region’s textile centers, so the fading popularity of a particular product or the lack of the raw materials necessary to produce it did not automatically spell disaster for the neighborhood.

[Figure 13] Industry on Mount Ida during the boom period of 1855-1893 may be divided into two groups: that along the Poesten Kill and that along upper Congress Street.

That along the stream was the older of the two, and in some ways the more diverse.  A snapshot of the area from 1875 is enough to demonstrate this variety of commerce on the stream.  Six major mills and factories operated between Lake Ida on the east side of the Pawling Avenue Bridge and the base of Cypress Street less than one-quarter mile to the west.  The Dingman and Smith Shirt Factory and Laundry as well as the Farnam Hosiery Mill produced textiles around the clock above Ida Falls.  The John W. Griswold Wire Works produced mostly galvanized bale ties for many different heavy industrial and agricultural applications.  The Warren and Murphy Spring Factory fabricated springs and chassis for wagons and carriages.  The Manning and Peckham Paper Company milled manilla paper—the only commodity it would turn out from these grounds during the firm’s 112-year stay at the foot of Cypress Street.         

* Weise, Troy’s One Hundred Years, Census Tables, Appendix “A”..

 

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