Rensselaer Park a private park with a pond, opened in 1867. It offered food and drink concessions and served as a picnic ground and venue for parades, races, baseball games, and special events.
It broadened in purpose in 1906 to become an amusement park by the newly-incorporated Troy Driving and Speedway Association, and closed sometime in 1918 after being used that final year for the Rensselaer County Fair. Its southern boundary was a little south of 108th Street, its northern boundary a little north of 110th Street, its western boundary on 5th Avenue, and its eastern boundary between 10th Avenue and the railroad (now Uncle Sam Bikeway).
Much of the land was taken for development by a Detroit-based company anticipating a need for new housing for people who would be employed by the Ford Motor Company plant on Green Island.
—So great was the success attending the opening and inauguration of the Rensselaer Park last week, that since the close of the tournament every dollar of the capital stock of the association has been subscribed by our citizens. The park, under the direction of its present enterprising managers, is already a success, and there is no reason why it should not continue to prosper and grow in the affections of the people.
“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. October 23, 1867: 3 col 2.
☞ RENSSELAER PARK.—The new skating rink in the Rensselaer Park is now completed, and the water has been let in. The pond is four hundred and thirty feet long, by about four hundred feet wide, and will admirably answer the purposes of a park. If the present weather continues for a day or two more, our skatists will have an opportunity of testing its glassy surface.
Troy Daily Whig. November 20, 1867: 5 col 1.
AN ACT to incorporate the Rensselaer Park Association.
Passed March 28, 1868.
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows :
SECTION 1. John L. Flagg, Joseph B. Wilkinson, Robert Green, Gates H. Barnard, C. L. MacArthur, Augustus A. Peebles, Samuel O. Gleason, John F. Porter, William Ingram, Elijah S. House, John A. Griswold, and all such persons as may hereafter be associated with them, and their successors and assigns shall be, and they are hereby incorporated and made a body politic and corporate, in fact, and in law, by the name of the “Rensselaer Park Association.”
§ 2. Said association is hereby authorized and empowered in its corporate name, to purchase, hold, use, improve, beautify, let, lease, sell and convey such real and personal property in the county of Rensselaer, as may be necessary to enable said association to carry on its lawful operations; to erect buildings, construct roads, or otherwise improve such lands, and use the same as may be of most advantage and profit to said association; hold fairs and exhibitions, and award prizes, and said association may receive and make all lawful sales, transfers, deeds, conveyances, grants, mortgages, bonds, leases, covenants, contracts, agreements, and bargains, and be capable of doing all lawful acts, and things whatsoever proper and necessary for the purposes aforesaid. The real estate of said association shall not be assessed or taxed for an amount exceeding its value for agricultural purposes, so long as the same may be used for the purpose of a park as herein specified.
§ 3. The capital stock of said association shall not be less than the sum of forty thousand dollars, nor shall it exceed the sum of one hundred thousand dollars; said stock to be divided into shares of one hundred dollars each. Said stock shall be paid at such times, in such manner, in such installments, and upon such notice as may be indicated by the directors of said association, and in case of the failure of any stockholder to pay any instalment at the time and place appointed for the payment thereof, within thirty days after personal notice
of such call by the treasurer of said association, his stock, and all previous payments thereon may be forfeited by the directors to the use of said association, and the said association may, in its corporate name, sue for and recover of any subscriber of stock, who may be so delinquent in the payment of any instalment as aforesaid, if said association so elect by a vote of the directors thereof. The stock of said association shall be deemed personal estate, and shall be transferable in such manner as the by-laws may prescribe.
§ 4. The stock, property and concerns of said association shall be managed by a board of directors consisting of eleven, who shall, except the first year, be annually elected by the stockholders, at the time and in such manner as shall be provided for by the by-laws of said association, and the names of the directors who shall manage the affairs of said association for the first year, or until others are elected in their places, are John L. Flagg, Joseph B. Wilkinson, Robert Green, Gates H. Barnard, C. L. MacArthur, Augustus A. Peebles, Sam-
uel O. Gleason, John F. Porter, William Ingram and Elijah S. House.
§ 5. There shall be a president of said association, and also such other officers as the association in its by-laws may designate, who shall be chosen from the directors by the said board of directors, and who shall give such security for the faithful performance of their duties as may be required by the board.
§ 6. The directors of said association shall have power to make, and to change and alter at pleasure, such by-laws, as they may deem proper for the disposition and management of the property and business affairs of said association.
§ 7. Each stockholder of said association shall be individually liable to the creditors thereof, to an amount equal to the stock held by him respectively, for all debts and liabilities of said association, but shall not be liable to an action therefor, before a judgment shall have been recovered, and an execution thereon shall have been returned unsatisfied in whole or in part against said association, and then the amount due, with interest, on such execution shall be the amount recoverable, with costs, against such stockholder.
§ 8. This corporation shall possess the general powers and privileges and be subject to the liabilities and restrictions contained in title third of chapter eighteen, of part first of the Revised Statutes.
§ 9. The said association shall not be liable for taxation for any purposes, except as hereinbefore mentioned.
§ 10. This act shall take effect immediately.
Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the Ninety-First Session of the Legislature. Vol. 1. Albany, NY: Van Benthuysen & Sons, 1868. 95-97.
☞ RENSSELAER PARK.—President Flagg, of the Rensselaer Park, has the promise of some beautiful swans from Central Park, New York, for our new pleasure grounds, and expects them up in a day or two, when they will be placed on Sylvan Lake, the handsome little sheet of water in the south end of the course. There are already a number of ducks on the lake, who appear to like their beautiful quarters very much.
Troy Daily Whig. June 29, 1868: 4 col 4.
TROY IRON MOULDERS’ UNION, NO. 2
AT RENSSELAER PARK
ON MONDAY, JULY 15th, 1872 […]
BIDS WILL be received for the Lager Beer, Bottled Soda, Cigar and Tobacco stand; also for the Ice Cream, Fountain Soda, Cake, Nuts, Candy and Fruit Stand; also for the Eatables and Lemonade stand, for the Moulders’ Picnic, at Rensselaer Park, July 15, 1872. All bids must be handed in at Egolf’s Cigar Store before 7 o’clock on Wednesday, July 3d, 1872.
Troy, June 26, 1872; tf
Troy Daily Whig. July 10, 1872: 2 col 5.
—The managers of the Rensselaer Park have not decided, as reported in the Press, to lease the park to a German at an annual rental of $3,000, or for any other consideration.
“Local Briefs.” Troy Daily Whig. August 22, 1872: 3 col 1.
—The Vaquero troupe of Mexicans will give another exhibition at Rensselaer Park this afternoon. No admission will be charged to the grand stand, from which a perfect view of the whole performance can be had.
“Local Briefs.” Troy Daily Whig. August 27, 1872: 3 col 1.
Tuesday, Aug. 27,
AT 4 P. M.
Gen. Juarez Vaquero Troupe
Of Native Mexicans on their Native Mustangs, in their Wonderful and Extraordinary Performances of
The Wild Cattle of Texas, also in their Daring and Unparalleled Feats of Horsemanship. Also a
FOR A PURSE OF $50.
Admission 50 cents; Grand Stand FREE.
“Amusements.” Troy Daily Whig. August 27, 1872: 3 col 7.
—On Monday afternoon, at Rensselaer Park the Bavarian military band of the Fifty-fifth battalion of Royal Bavarian Sharp-shooters, will give one of their excellent concerts. The organization is highly spoken of and we hope to see a crowd present.
“Amusements.” Troy Daily Whig. September 5, 1873: 4 col 2.
—Some New Yorkers are endeavoring to lease Rensselaer Park for four years at an annual rental of $3,000, and turn it into a first-class pleasure ground.
“Local Briefs.” Troy Daily Whig. December 11, 1872: 3 col 1.
—New York parties are making negotiations with a view to purchasing the Rensselaer park property for the purpose of transforming the place into an extensive pleasure ground.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Daily Times. August 23, 1887: 3 col 4.
—Extensive repairs are being made to the grounds at Rensselaer park. The track is being put in condition and a new fence will be built. Malvin Vischer now has charge of the park.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Daily Times. May 16, 1890: 3 col 4.
Three Horses Burned to Death—Fire at Rensselaer Park.
The stables at Rensselaer park were discovered on fire at 12:30 o’clock this afternoon.
An alarm was run from box 8 of the Lansingburgh fire department, but before a stream could be thrown the large barn, in which there were twenty-one stables, was burned to the ground. When the fire started there were thirteen horses in the stables, eleven belonging to parties who left the animals there to be sold. Ten of the animals were removed. Three horses, a pair and a single horse, belonging to a man named Steele of Herkimer, were burned to death. The proprietor of the park is J. B. Rumsey. Two of the horses in the barn belonged to him. The stables were among the largest building at the park, which is owned by Harvey Pine. The fire when discovered was coming through the roof at the northwest end and adjoining a row of dwellings on Seventh avenue. Men had been at the barn five minutes before the fire was discovered. It is thought the fire was discovered. It is thought the fire originated from boys playing with matches. The house adjoining, owned by Hans Neilson and occupied by him and Chris. Johnson, was badly burned. The loss on the stables will be about $2,500, which is insured. Mr. Steele valued his horses at $500.
Troy Daily Times. April 20, 1891: 3 col 6.
—The pond at Rensselaer park has been stocked with perch. […] —Joseph St. Hillaire of South Troy, arrested several days ago and charged by Frank Downey, daughter of the complainant, at the picnic a week ago at Rensselaer park, was convicted yesterday afternoon by Justice Smith and fined $10, which was paid.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Daily Times. June 30, 1891: 3 col 4.
—Yesterday afternoon while John Doran, residing on Van Schaick’s island, was at work on the new barn being erected at Rensselaer park a portion of the structure fell and badly injured Mr. Doran. The building had been enclosed and was nearing completion when it fell. Doran was taken to his home. He was badly bruised.
Troy Daily Times. July 10, 1891: 3 col 4.
—The pond in Rensselaer park is covered with thick ice, and skating is said to be excellent.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Daily Times. December 19, 1891: 2 col 3.
—The companies of the young men’s Republican club will be photographed Thanksgiving day at Rensselaer park by J. R. Allis.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Daily Times. November 19, 1892: 2 col 4.
—Many skaters were on the ponds in Lansing’s grove and in Rensselaer park yesterday afternoon.
“Lansingburgh” Troy Daily Times. December 2, 1892: 2 col 2.
“Walk up, gentleman! Try your luck! Anything from a quarter to a hundred! The turn of the wheel indicates the black, the red or the star green. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. Come on! Come on!
Such was the nature of the words heard at the south end of the grand stand at the races at Rensselaer park yesterday afternoon, and the swaying crowd jostled back and forth to respond to the call. There were dollars—plenty of them—in sight or done up in packages, and the “long green” hung conspicuously in view. “Whirr!” went the big red wheel; “clickety-click” went indicator; there was a lull. “Star green wins.” The stakes were low, but many of the players were boys, and their faces blanched and their fingers clutched the coins with a nervous energy unknown except in the frenzy of this—in some cases—their first play. Oaths were heard from older players, who cursed their luck, but the wheel kept merrily on, while the quarters, halves and larger coins clinked away visions of riches.
There is a state law that says something about gambling. Tucked away, too, in the village ordinances of Lansingburgh is a clause which mentions something about preserving peace and good order. Lansingburgh has a police force. But just now Commissioner Flack is absent. There was no policeman detailed to Rensselaer park yesterday afternoon. Several village officials expressed surprise last night that Lansingburgh should be the scene of such open gambling.
Troy Daily Times. August 18, 1896: 4 col 2.
JULY 5TH, 9 A. M.
BICYCLE RACES, 12 MILES, 4:30 P. M. START SECOND AVENUE AND SECOND STREET; FINISH AT RENSSELAER PARK.
SATURDAY, JULY 3, 1897.
All crack amateurs will compete. Quick riding. Admission 25c.
Troy Daily Times. June 30, 1897: 3 col 8.
The firemen who will use scaled ladders in fighting the exhibition fire at Rensselaer park at the firemen’s field day July 19 practiced with ladders at the Railroad Young Men’s Christian Association gymnasium last evening under the direction of Professor Heidler of the association. The men showed proficiency and their work will be an interesting feature at the park.
Troy Daily Times. July 3, 1897: 2 col 4.
—The Cohoes Wheelmen’s race meet is being held at Rensselaer park this afternoon. The Cohoes City Band gave a concert on the square at the head of Oneida street at noon.
“Cohoes.” Troy Daily Times. July 3, 1897: 2 col 4.
—A drill of Company D was held last evening and orders were issued for the practice camp at Rensselaer Park to-morrow night.
“Military Items.” Troy Times. August 19, 1904: 5 col 4.
—The rain Saturday did not prevent Company D from performing guard duty at Rensselaer Park as scheduled. As the rain ceased early in the evening, the clam chowder was held at the park as planned. The company, in command of First Lieut. Daniel F. Nial, went to the park in chartered cars, and the men returned to the Armory early yesterday. The trip was in preparation for the tour of field service at Manassas, Va., next month.
“Military Items.” Troy Times. August 22, 1904: 2 col 4.
The association which is planning to remodel Rensselaer Park was incorporated to-day under the name of the Troy Driving and Speedway Association. The association will have a capital stock of $10,000, to be issued in shares of $25 each. The Directors named are: Alba M. Ide, Lewis E. Griffith, Thomas A. Knickerbocker, Cornelius F. Burns, William T. Shyne, Frank Gilbert, Joseph A. Leggett and William Bolton, all of Troy. The Directors have elected as officers: President, William T. Shyne; Vice President, Cornelius F. Burns; Treasurer, William Bolton; Secretary, Edward H. Sims. The association has secured a lease of Rensselaer Park for seven years, and its primary objects will be to place the park in excellent condition, to rebuild fences, buildings and the grandstand and to place the track in shape. In addition, it is proposed to construct a speedway, a half-mile straightaway, on Eighth Avenue, Upper Troy, running north into the park, with a finish in front of the grandstand. The idea of making Rensselaer Park into a public pleasure resort has grown rapidly since the suggestion was first made, and it is very probable that the plans will take that form. Several applications have been received for a lease of the pavilion in the park, one as a roller skating rink, while numerous offers have been made for privileges of operating a merry-go-round, refreshment stands, swings, an open-air vaudeville theatre and other pleasure resort attractions. The United Traction Company has favorably considered a suggestion to build a spur from Second Avenue to the park, as the company already has a franchise over Eighth Street. The Boston and Maine Railroad has been approached with a view to building a sidetrack and a station at the park for out-of-town excursions. A meeting will be held next week to fix upon definite plans. Already $2,000 of the stock has been subscribed.
Troy Times. April 25, 1906: 5 col 4.
The movement to make Rensselaer Park in this city a pleasure resort worthy of Troy is in the hands of prominent and active citizens. The natural advantages of the park need only a little well directed energy to make it an attractive and frequently used place of recreation.
Troy Semi-Weekly Times. April 26, 1906: 4 col 3.
Peter F Connors, a Troy N. Y. expert, is running his checker outfit for the summer at the White City in New Rensselaer Park.
The Canadian Checker Player 2(6-7). June-July 1908. 140.
Through the kindness of the ladies of Bethlehem Star Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, the children of the Troy Orphan Asylum were given their annual outing at Rensselaer Park yesterday. Mrs. Witbeck was in charge, and the party left the corner of Spring and Pawling Avenues in chartered cars. Games were played during the morning at the park, and dinner was served at noon. Each boy, as a souvenir, was presented a strong pocket knife, and each little girl was given a string of beads and a pretty fan. During the afternoon the girls enjoyed themselves by playing games in the dancing pavilion, while the boys had the program of sports, which resulted as follows: Potato race, for boys under twelve years, won by William Barber; second, B. Davis; third, Henry Gates. Fifty-yard dash, from twelve to fourteen years, won by Earl White; second, H. Butcher; third, Elmer Fonda. Seventy-five-yard dash, for boys more than fourteen years, won by James Morris; second, Everett McChesney; third, Clarence Hoag. Rain prevented the carrying out of the program in full, but the postponed events will be run off on the Asylum grounds next week, under the direction of Physical Director Henckel of the Young Men’s Christian Association. W. Irving Johnson and James McManus had charge of the sports at the Park yesterday afternoon.
Troy Times. July 15, 1908: 5 col 3.
The Diamond Novelty Company, lessees of Rensselaer Park, Troy, N. Y., will spend $10,000 this spring in improving the park property. Negotiations are well under way for the purchase of the land occupied by the park which comprises 42 acres.
“Outdoor Amusements.” The Billboard. March 27, 1909. 43.
The hearts of the hundreds of little children in the various orphan asylums were gladdened to-day when they learned that June 9 had been set as the date for Orphan’s day, when they will be the guests of the Albany and Troy Automobile clubs on their annual ride about the city and the surrounding country, winding up the afternoon’s pleasure in the country, where ice cream and cake will be served and games indulged in.
Dr. Edward G. Cox will have the handling of this year’s outing of the children and has set to work perfecting details. There are over 600 children in the various institutions and Dr. Cox has no doubt of his ability to secure a sufficient number of machines to accommodate them all. Dr. Cox is busy mapping out the rout for the big turnout and has selected Canton’s hotel on the Loudonville road as the winding up place.
On June 2, the Albany Automobile club will join with the Troy club in giving the 900 orphans in the institution, in that city a ride, which will terminate at Rensselaer park, and in return the Trojans will mobilize here with their machines June 9 to assist the Albanians.
Albany Evening Journal. May 21, 1909: 12 col 5.
Despite the steady downpour of rain throughout the morning a happy hundred or more of the blind, blind and deaf, blind and dumb, and blind and both deaf and dumb, people of Rensselaer County, assembled at Rensselaer Park for their annual play-day to-day. The athletic program had to be abandoned because of rain, but the participants who were lacking in one or more of their senses, took their misfortune with more fortitude than many who were in full possession of all their faculties.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Times. July 18, 1912: 6 col 2.
The fifth annual picnic and athletic meet of the Albany Association for the Blind was held at Rensselaer Park yesterday afternoon and was attended by 150 blind persons. The athletic events resulted as follows:
100-Yard Dash for Men—McConville, first; Denapoli, second.
Ladies Sack Race—Miss O’Neil, Troy, first; Miss Myers, Batavia, second.
One-Leg Race—J. J. Foy, first; M. A. Kelly, Glens Falls, second.
100-Yard Walk, Ladies, Miss O’Neil, Troy, first; Miss Warden, Albany, second.
Shot-Put, Men—Charles Douglas, Troy, first; Davis, second.
Standing Broad Jump—Douglas, first; McConville and Dunn, tied for second.
Ladies’ Shot-Put—Miss Warden, first; Miss Gravlin, second.
Troy Times. July 24, 1913: 11 col 4.
The McCreary and Johnston Steamer companies are holding a joint outing to-day at Rensselaer park, Troy. About twenty firemanic companies from cities and towns in this vicinity are in attendance. A fine program of sports and athletic events is being carried out.
Times-Union. June 13, 1914: 6 col 5.
The Albany Association of the Blind have arranged for an outing and field day for all the blind of this section of the state to be held at Rensselaer park, North Troy, on Thursday, July 16. This annual day at the park is a “red letter day” for every sightless person in this vicinity, but, unfortunately, experience has proven that the expectations of many of these blind people are often not realized on account of their inability to secure guides for transportation facilities to the park. The committee in charge of the outing this year are asking their friends to interest the owners of touring cars or automobiles in this outing and field day. There are about 50 blind people who will not be able to enjoy this outing unless some means of easy transportation are provided, and the association needs the co-operation of the owners of a few automobiles in order to make this annual event a success. All those who can give the use of their cars for a few hours of the morning of July 16 are requested to communicate with the Albany Association of the Blind, 105 Lancaster street, or telephone Main 1257-W.
Times-Union. June 24, 1914: 5 col 4.
The Socialists of Local Troy plan to express their condemnation of the European war at a War Protest meeting and picnic at Rensselaer Park, Troy, next Sunday, August 30.
Dr. George R. Lunn, of Schenectady, will address the meeting.
The Troy Comrades believe that this will be an excellent opportunity for propaganda work, and that Mayor Lunn will voice a strong and effective protest.
“New York State.” New York Call. August 23, 1914: 4 col 2.
Rensselaer Park, Monday May 31, 1915.
Trotting, pacing and motorcycle races. Exhibition drill by Albany Field Hospital, N. G. N. Y.
Come One. Come All. Admission, 50c.
Troy Times. May 26, 1915: 2 col 5.
George L. Newberry Drops Four Hundred Feet Into Cemetery Near Troy, N. Y.
TROY, N. Y., Monday.—George L. Newberry, a professional aviator, of Kirkwood, N. Y., was fatally injured here this afternoon when an aeroplane with which he was giving an exhibition at a picnic, held in Rensselaer Park by the Troy police, fell from a height of 400 feet into Oakwood Cemetery. Newberry was extricated from the ruins of his machine and hurried to a hospital, where he died in a few minutes.
The accident was witnessed by more than 20,000 persons, assembled in the park and on the hills adjoining. Newberry made one successful flight and returned to the park. Without alighting he arose in the air again and flew over the cemetery, in which the veterans were holding their Memorial Day exercises. He was at a height estimated at 400 feet, when there was a loud explosion and the machine turned over and fell like a plummet to the earth. Newberry was pinned beneath the machine and was unconscious when extricated.
New York Herald. June 1, 1915: 1 col 5.
About 106 members of the Albany Association of the Blind enjoyed an outing at Rensselaer Park, Tuesday. A program of sports, musical numbers, vaudeville stunts, dancing and other forms of amusement took up most of the day and until late that night. Free tickets to the amusements of the park were provided for all.
Schenectady Gazette. June 15, 1915: 2 col 2.
The Albany Association of the Blind held its annual outing at Rensselaer Park, North Troy, Tuesday. About 100 sightless people and their friends assembled at the park and the program of the big day in the lives of the blind in this locality was started at once. There were interesting events and contents and the winners were as follows: Bean guessing contest, won by Mrs. O’Brien of Albany. The second prize was a tie between Miss Sarah Graveline of Albany and Mr. De Wart of Rochester. The watermelon contest was won by Mr. Michael Di Napoli of Albany, who made a record of 30 slices. The measuring contest was a tie between Mr. Michael Blansee of Schenectady and Miss Harriet Morey of Albany. The chicken contest was won by Mr. J. Cook of Schenectady, with Miss Mary Modot of Green Island second. The ladies’ walking contest was won by Miss Anna O’Nial of Troy. The 100-yard dash for men was won by Mr. J. Cook of Schenectady. After the sports there was a free distribution of candy and in the evening there was dancing and a special vaudeville performance, including vocal selections by Miss Molly Angarde; piano solos by Prof. Wolf and a monologue by Mr. Thomas Harrington.
During the day the association distributed tickets for free rides on the merry-go-round, circle swing, figure eight and toboggan slide. The outing and picnic was one of the most successful ever given by the association.
Times Union. July 15, 1915: 7 cols 5-6.
The Brazilians who have been camping on the old circus grounds on Fifth Avenue, near Rensselaer Park, to-day left that spot and said they were going to camp out near the Williams farm in the South End, if they could secure permission to do so. The train consisted of ten horses and four heavily loaded wagons.
“Lansingburgh.”Troy Times. July 30, 1915: 2 col 5.
The open-air theatre, Cupid’s coaster and another concession at Rensselaer Park were destroyed by fire this afternoon.
Troy Times. June 22, 1917: 8 col 3.
—The chemical of the Mason Hose Company yesterday afternoon extinguished a slight fire in the railroad station at Rensselaer Park. The flames were caused by sparks from a Boston and Maine locomotive.
“General Mention.” Troy Times. August 24, 1917: 2 col 3.
—The Child chemical wagon was called to Rensselaer Park at 6:15 o’clock last evening to extinguish a fire in the fence. Slight damage resulted.
“Lansingburgh.” Troy Times. April 2, 1918: 16 col 5.
“Rensselaer Park.” National Amusement Park Historical Association. http://lostamusementparks.napha.org/Articles/NewYork/RensselaerPark-NY.html
See also the Rensselaer County Agricultural Society Fairgrounds