Saratoga September

We were in Saratoga Springs for a big family wedding this past weekend, one of four (or did I hear six?) that the city absorbed effortlessly: by all appearances Saratoga has its tourism game down and seems to be just as accommodating and entertaining to its permanent residents. Everything about it speaks to careful planning and “showcasing” for lack of a better word: wide boulevards, strong commercial and residential architecture (in close proximity), a Visitor’s Center and History Museum both in the city center within a beautifully-maintained park (+carousel), a performing arts center a bit further out in the Saratoga Spa State Park, an intact Armory transformed into a military museum, a mixture of commercial and boutique hotels, uniform, aesthetically-pleasing SIGNS (including iron markers for every neighborhood), public art that both reflects and enhances its streetscape, a seasonless economy, and clean sidewalks. Saratoga Spring has been a city of attractions for a long time, offering up a succession of healing waters, potato chips, horse racing, gaming, and a variety of arts to its many visitors over a century and a half, and its experience—and pride–shows.

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Saratoga past and present

Saratoga past and present 2Horses and ballet slippers (a nod to the New York City Ballet’s summer residence at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center) abound on Saratoga’s main streets as do markers; the Saratoga History Museum in the former Canfield Casino has both permanent and rotating exhibits and tours; two views of old and new—I really liked this gallery floor made up of scanned postcards of all Saratoga’s great hotels. AND now for some houses: this is just a sampling, as there are MANY to see, mostly different varieties of Victorian and some early twentieth-century styles. You could take a walking tour focused entirely on variations of the Italianate.

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15 responses to “Saratoga September

  • Alice Merkl

    So enjoyed your post and photos of Saratoga NY. I’ve been going there all my life and it is a lovely blend of history, art, architecture, and plenty of entertainment for everyone. You’ll have to plan a trip in August and go to the races!

  • Michele Phillips

    What a lovely surprise to see your post on Saratoga Springs! I have lived here all my life and have always been proud to say this is my home town.
    Last year we bought a second home in Salem to be able to visit our daughter and her family more regularly. They live outside of Boston. Now we have the best of both worlds!
    Thank you for a wonderful blog!

    • daseger

      Hi Michele! My stepmother’s family is located in Saratoga so I’ve been back regularly: very impressed with its ability to accommodate both tourists and residents. Hope you survive your first???? Salem October! It’s not for me, so every weekend you’ll see day trip posts here.

    • Carol Godette

      Michelle’s husband actually now owns my parent’s funeral home Donna! Small world as you didn’t actually mention that Pam is your stepmom and it was Kristy’s wedding.

  • Carol J. Perry

    I so enjoy your photos. The Saratoga ones are especially interesting and varied. Maybe someday you’ll “do” a floor of your wonderful house photos from everywhere!

  • Eilene Lyon

    Looks like a great place to visit. I’ve been contemplating a piece on “healing waters” and all the places that called themselves “The Saratoga of the West” (there were many that claimed it). Beautiful homes, nicely photographed.

    • daseger

      I actually should have put this in the post itself: we had a wonderful tour at the History Museum, and the guide made a point that I’ve been thinking about ever since: he said that in the 19th century, it was positively un-American to go on vacation, so the way it was rationalized was to go somewhere restorative, where you could partake of those “healing waters”.

  • Brian Bixby

    My former fellow grad student, Richard H. Gassan, wrote a work analyzing the early years of American tourism, “The Birth of American Tourism: New York, the Hudson Valeey, and American Culture, 1790-1830” (2008) in which Saratoga Springs is prominently featured.

    • daseger

      1790? Wow that is early for “tourism”! You certainly get that they’ve been at it for some time, but this is earlier than I thought. Must be the battle?

      • Brian Bixby

        It’s the springs even then, but, yes, there were battle enthusiasts, too. Ballston becomes a noted resort even before Saratoga. Richard was trying to trace the roots, and show that the shape of post-1815 tourism had been laid earlier than usually thought.

      • daseger

        Well, I definitely have to get this book, if only to impress my stepmother & her family–all Saratoga people. Thanks for the recommendation (yet again!!!!) Brian!

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