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In the year 1609, Henry Hudson established a Dutch claim to the river valley that would bear his name, and there by enabling, thirty years later, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, a prosperous diamond merchant from Hasselt, Holland, to purchase 700,000 acres along both sides of the river and to establish a Manor of Rensselaerswyck.

By 1632, the first east bank settlement, being among the earliest in America and known as DeLaet’s Burg, gathered at the foot of DeLaet’s Mill Creek and Waterfalls. And by the year 1655, DeLaet’s Burg would come to be known as “t’Greyn Bos” or green woods and later Greenbush and continue to grow around one of Kiliaen’s younger son’s home, Crailo, such that, by 1815 it was incorporated as the Village of Greenbush.

The first American railroads found it necessary to link new western lands to the established east, and thus in 1866, the Livingston Avenue, (Albany) bridge was completed, directly joining the shores of the Hudson at East Albany, thereby encouraging development of the lands north of Greenbush.

During the last decade of the 19th Century, a period of unparalleled American growth and affluence, the Rensselaer County Village of Greenbush and East Albany prospered to the extent that their boundaries become less meaningful and their citizens sought a more efficient means of governing.

Grown and prosperity in adjacent municipalities, demonstrated by the erection of the Town of Colonies, and the proposed incorporation of the city of Watervliet, from the Village of West Troy, the Centennial of the State Capital and construction of the new Capitol Building at Albany and the completion of the Rensselaer County Court House in Troy, encouraged in three Villages to reform and seek a unified municipal structure.

During the 120th Session of the New York State Legislature, at the Old Capitol in Albany, Assemblyman George Anderson of Castleton, in consultation with certain Village officials introduced on the 18th day of February, 1897, in the House of Assembly, “An Act to Incorporate the City of Rensselaer”.

Governor Frank S. Black of Troy did sign and enact on the 23rd day of April, 1897, Chapter 359 and thereby grant to the people a law erecting a new municipality to be known as the “City of Rensselaer”.
The first meeting of the Common Council of the City of Rensselaer was held on Tuesday evening April 27, 1897.

Charles S. Allen, Mayor of the City of Rensselaer called the special session the Common Council for the transitions of general business for Tuesday night April 27th, 1897 at 8:30 p.m.

To the Honorable Board of Common Council of the City of Rensselaer:

Gentlemen, I have the honor to open the first meeting of the Common Council with a gavel which was loaned to me by Mr. Agustus B. Kiernan his gavel has a history with it. It was presented to the father of Mr. Kiernan by  Speaker James W. Heusted May 15, 1876. It was used in closing the final session in the Old Capitol and in calling to order the first session in the new Capitol and now used in opening the first session of the Common Council of this our new City of Rensselaer.

The City of Rensselaer at one time was Three Villages: Greenbush, East Albany and Bath.

Greenbush at a Glance:

Hudson River (west); train tracks, Wendell Street, High Street (north and east; Port of Rensselaer (south)

Circa 1630 settlement within the Dutch colony of New Netherlands:
De Laet’s Burg

Official founding:
1815; absorbed by the City of Rensselaer in 1897

Historical Interest:
Major local and national significance as one of the oldest European settlements and sites of industry in the original 13 colonies; Major interest in being the first American site for manufacturing aspiring; Crailo State Historic Site;

Architectural Variety:
Significant; circa 1740-1920


A Hudson River (west); Washington Avenue and peripheral street (north); Quackenderry Creek gorge (east); Catherine Street vicinity (south)

An 18th Century sulphur spring spa

Official Foundings:
1820; absorbed by the City of Rensselaer in 1897

Historical Interest:
Significant locally, and possibly nationally, due to the sophisticated nature of the sulphur spring spa.

Architectural Variety:
Significant; circa 1780-circa 1940


Catherine Street (north); Hudson River (west); Quackenderry Creek, Summit Street, etc. (east); Wendell Street, railroad tracks (south)

Development began after the creation in 1841 of a western terminus for the Western (later Boston & Albany) Railroad on Van Rensselaer Island. It was overseen by the government of Greenbush until absorbed by the City of Rensselaer in 1897.

Historical Interest:
One of the most important rail centers in the United States in the mid 19th Century architecture.

Information taken from: Three Village, One City Book
By Douglas L. Sinclair (published,1992)