A Brief History of the Mount Ida Neighborhood - Transition

The freedom provided by steam and electricity allowed industries like textiles to move closer to the center of raw materials.  Labor unionization and labor-management conflicts forced industries towards cheaper and more pliable labor markets.  There was also the matter of scale: early industry built on such a small scale that the visible remains are barely noticeable in our old cities*

There are, indeed, few visible remains of the industrial muscle that once flexed atop Mount Ida.  Nature has largely reclaimed the Poesten Kill Gorge more than three-hundred years after the first mill appeared at its base. There is once again freshness to the site, and the sense that one stands in a place of newness and possibility.  Most of the natural growth is second and third generation, all but engulfing and erasing the human environment that once ruled the stream. 

The industrial glory that once bracketed the tributary is present only in the occasional relic: a partial foundation wall, the half-buried blades of a rusted turbine, a nineteenth-century millstone that remains wholly intact in the waters at the foot of Ida Falls.

[Figure 22] The City of Troy’s response to large industry’s exit from Mount Ida was anything but reactionary.  Between 1895 and 1916 numerous attempts by both the private and public sectors of the city to lure industry back to Troy evince a striking failure either to grasp or admit that the large scale manufacturing establishments that employed nearly one-half the neighborhood’s working men, women and children, were gone forever, and that the citizens of Troy were leaving with the jobs.  Those who knew the area’s rich commercial heritage must have been struck by the patent boosterism that now substituted for the unruffled confidence that had painted Day Otis Kellogg’s sedate prose in 1846.  Each subsequent attempt to sell the area to potential investors begged the question a bit more, with strings of cheerful adjectives standing in for well-reasoned arguments and hefty statistics.  

* p. 121.



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