A Brief History of the Mount Ida Neighborhood - The Bust

Public transportation provided the final artery connecting the neighborhood to the rest of the world, bridging the last substantial gap that once made the locale seem like an island apart from the city.  One could now take the trolley from one’s front door to Union Depot or Steamboat Landing, making the journey to New York City or Buffalo one of no more than a few hundred steps.  With the completion of the Hoosac Tunnel in 1875 direct train service from Troy to Boston was also made possible.               

[Figure 19] By 1880, however, there would have been little need to leave Mount Ida, as the remote settlement of 1845 was but a distant memory.  The neighborhood was fully equipped for the necessities of modern life.  No fewer than eight factories and mills employed more than two thousand workers along upper Congress Street and the parallel section of the Poesten Kill.  Most all of these workers made their homes in the shadows of their places of employment.  The area could boast a permanent congregation of each of the nation’s five largest Christian denominations, each with its own resident pastor.  The fire department was in its new headquarters, equipped with the latest technology.  One could find those who provided all the staples of life—grocers, bakers, physicians, cobblers, tailors, druggists, police officers— within a few blocks of any home.  Many of the luxuries of the time were also available, as the neighborhood was home to numerous saloons, restaurants, wine and liquor stores, hairdressers and dressmakers. The few luxuries that the area seemed to lack—a bank, a fancy goods store, a theater—were a short walk or an easy trolley ride away.

Troy had benefited richly from the Civil War.  Although the city still quite rightly boasts the fact that it rolled the deck plates for the USS Monitor, it also provided horseshoes, blankets, uniforms, currycombs, percussion caps, foodstuffs, and a myriad of other goods for the Union cause.  The result was the solidification of an industrial infrastructure that could withstand most of the financial panics and doubts of the post-war economy.  The Panic of 1873 slowed growth for the remainder of the decade in the area as it did in the country as a whole, but no major mill or factory left Mount Ida in the interval.  Strikes were rare.  In fact, by 1879 there were new businesses establishing themselves along the banks of the Poesten Kill and in the neighborhood above.  The largely self-sufficient community that grew in the soil of industrial prosperity seemed almost impervious to the rise and fall of neighboring economies.

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