Saratoga Springs, NY - The Place to Be!

Saratoga Springs, the Spa City (And Home of the Potato Chip)

Yes, the first potato chip ever cooked up was in Saratoga Springs, NY.  As local legend goes, in 1853 a grumpy patron entered Moon’s Lake House and ordered Moon’s fried potatoes. The patron sent them back stating they were too soggy and requested they be cut thinner.  Then he returned them yet again requesting they get cut even thinner.  Intending to teach the wealthy patron a lesson, Mr. Crum, in an attempt to make them inedible sliced them paper thin and salted them heavily.  He cooked them so crisp they couldn’t be eaten with a fork.  Instead, the patron ordered seconds and Saratoga Chips (potato chips) became a Moon’s Lake House specialty.

People come to Saratoga Springs for several reasons, including: the healing mineral springs, thoroughbred horse racing, the area’s rich history and Skidmore College.  Saratoga Springs is located in the foothills of the magnificent Adirondack Park, about three hours from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Montreal. The area’s mineral springs made Saratoga a popular destination for those hoping to be cured of various ailments for the last 200 years.

The city’s other claim to fame is the Saratoga Race Course, opened in 1863. The thoroughbred track holds an annual summer meet that lasts six weeks and attracts top jockeys, horses, and trainers in America. The population of Saratoga Springs today is about 26,000, and the town is considered one of the top ten in New York state for its quality of life.

Historic Architecture

  • Franklin Square. Added to the Register in 1972 as the city’s first historic district, it contains 87 properties in its 30 acres (120,000 m2). Most are upscale mid-19th century residences and outbuildings taking advantage of the proximity of the railroad station, newly built at the time.
  • Hiram Charles Todd House, 4 Franklin Square. This ornate Greek Revival house on Franklin Square, one of the city’s first listings on the Register, was probably built around 1837. It takes its name from Todd, a prominent lawyer and jurist descended from the original owners, who lived there in the early 20th century.
  • Holmes Block, 102–08 Woodlawn Avenue. This group of four rowhouses was built over the two decades after the Civil War in the Second Empire style, with mansard roofs and dormer windows. They retain their original marble flooring at the entrances.
  • Tenement at 190–94 Grand Avenue. This 1896 group of three two-unit attached houses was designed by R. Newton Brezee, known for his grand houses elsewhere in town. It features more decoration than other tenements in the district, such as bracketed cornices.



Health, History, Horses

Health, History, Horses Has Been the Well Known Slogan of Saratoga Springs for Many Decades


The Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois nation believed that the mineral springs found in the area were a gift of the great god Manitou and were to be used wisely to restore health and well-being.

The naturally carbonated waters of Saratoga Springs are a precious natural resource and are the area’s greatest asset. These waters flow from the earth heavily charged with carbon dioxide gas and many vital minerals in solution. The various springs have diverse characteristics all of which were purported to offer specific remedies.


Exploring Saratoga County yields many interesting places and sites of both national and statewide significance. Along its southern and eastern edges, flow the Mohawk and its barge canals, “gateway” to Buffalo and the western frontier, as well as the Hudson with its many locks, an important transportation route from Canada to NYC. At the Saratoga Battlefield one can relive the “turning point” of the American Revolution, and at Grant Cottage one can see where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his last weeks finishing his memoir.


As early as 1847 when a meet for trotters was held on a dirt track adjacent to Union Avenue called “Horse Haven,” horses, racing and wagering have been a winning combination in Saratoga Springs.

Horse Haven, a dirt track, was built on East Avenue near the intersection of Union Avenue. The simple board and batten stables, built to house thoroughbreds and their grooms during the meet, are still in use today. There was also a small grandstand, but many spectators chose to view the races from their elegant open carriages. Then as now, a day at the races was as much about seeing and being seen as it was about the winner’s circle!

Inspired by the growing interest in the sport, a group of private investors formed the Saratoga Racing Association. The four day meet was extended, and in 1864 a larger track was built on the opposite side of Union Avenue, the site of the current Saratoga Race Course. By the turn of the century it was firmly established as the showplace it is today.

Historic Architecture

  • Adelphi Hotel, 361–65 Broadway. Built in 1877, this is the last surviving hotel from the 19th century. It has the trademark three-story “Saratoga porch” with slender columns and open spandrels.
  • Adirondack Trust Company Building, 473 Broadway. This is a marble-faced 1916 Beaux-Arts bank building by Alfred Hopkins featuring Tiffany bronze doors and chandeliers. All the decoration inside and out has Adirondack themes.
  • S.W. Ainsworth Building, 456–70 Broadway. Ornate High Victorian brick three-story commercial block with pediment dating it to 1871.
  • Bethesda Episcopal Church, 28 Washington Street. Richard Upjohn’s original 1842 Gothic Revival design was enhanced in 1887 with a tower and new front facade.
  • City Hall, 474 Broadway. Ornate three-story brick Italianate building built in 1871 by Cummings & Burt of Troy.
  • Collamer Building, 480–94 Broadway. This large 1884 commercial building, similar in mass (three stories, 18 bays) to the Ainsworth Building down the street has a Queen Anne gable with miniature turrets.
  • Ellis House, 720 North Broadway. This two-and-a-half-story Romanesque Revival house is believed to have been built 1885–86 by Albany architect Albert Fuller. Has a three-story engaged tower and widow’s walk.
  • High Rock Spring, Maple Avenue at Rock Street. The first known mineral water spring in the area flows in a polygonal stone springhouse below a steep ledge.
  • President’s House, 670 North Broadway. The home of Skidmore’s president is a 2 12-story Colonial Revival frame house with projecting columned portico built between 1895–1900.
  • Reverey Gardens, 595 North Broadway. Hopkins designed this two-story Colonial Revival frame house in 1922. Ellen Shipman designed the gardens.
  • U.S. Post Office, 475 Broadway. Treasury Department supervising architect James Knox Taylor designed this Classical Revival building in 1910. At that time it had the most elaborate lobby of any post office in the state

Notable People From Saratoga

Saratoga Springs Has Been Home to Several Notable People Over the Years


  • Charles Brackett, Hollywood screenwriter and producer
  • Dave Cummings, Adult Hall of Fame performer, grew up in Saratoga Springs
  • David Hyde Pierce, American actor, best known for his role in the sitcom “Frasier” as Dr. Niles Crane. 1977 Saratoga Springs High School graduate and winner of the Yaddo Medal
  • Scott Valentine, television (Family Ties) and motion picture actor, graduate of Saratoga Springs High School
  • Monty Woolley, American actor, best known for his role in the play The Man Who Came to Dinner; grew up in Saratoga Springs, where his father managed the Grand Union Hotel

Sports figures

  • Dave Erb, 1956 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner on the colt Needles, won many other stakes races; lives in neighboring Greenfield, New York, which borders Saratoga Springs
  • Kathleen Kauth, hockey player; 2006 Olympic bronze medalist; currently plays for the NWHL’s Brampton Thunder
  • Justin Morrow, figure-skater; two-time national ice-dancing medalist; 2005 Saratoga Springs High School graduate
  • Bill Parcells, retired football coach; owns a summer/retirement home overlooking a local golf course.
  • Don Pepper, baseball player who played one season with the Detroit Tigers (1966); father of LPGA golfer Dottie Pepper-Normoyle
  • Dottie Pepper-Normoyle, golfer; 1983 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School, daughter of Major League basketball player Don Pepper
  • Giana Roberge, professional cyclist; 2004 Master’s World Time-Trial Champion; former owner of Paradox Bicycle Center on Church St.; Skidmore graduate
  • Tim Stauffer, Major League Baseball pitcher; attended Saratoga Central Catholic High School
  • Anthony Weaver, football player; former defensive end with the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, 1998 Saratoga Springs High School graduate
  • Amy Peterson, 5 time olympian, speed skater, 5 time medalist, currently lives in Saratoga Springs
  • Matthew Riddle, UFC fighter


  • Frederick Charles Adler- Anglo-German composer promoted music here during and after World War II
  • Callen Sisters (Jess and Beth), sister musicians; 2001 and 2002 Saratoga Springs High School graduates, respectively
  • Dorian Crozier, drummer who has sat in with Five for Fighting and The Rembrandts; 1989 Saratoga Springs High School graduate
  • The Figgs, a band formed in 1987 by Mike Gent, Pete Donnelly, and Guy Lyons, 1989 and 1990 Saratoga Springs High School graduates
  • Chauncey Olcott, famed Irish tenor and composer, author of My Wild Irish Rose maintained a home Inniscara in Saratoga Springs
  • Utah Phillips, while not a native, began his career as a professional musician while living in Saratoga
  • Scott Underwood, drummer for and member of Train; 1990 Saratoga Springs High School graduate
  • The band Phantogram
  • The deathmetal band Skinless
  • Trey Anastasio, an American guitarist, composer, and vocalist noted for his work with the rock band Phish


  • Jeff Goodell, author and contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine
  • Clarence Knapp (1877-1961), (“Noogie”) author of the Sob Ballads and frequent contributor to The New Yorker.
  • James Howard Kunstler, writer and social critic, former resident, since moved to Washington County, New York
  • Frank Leslie (1821–1880), publisher of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper owned a summer home Interlaken on Lake Lonely.
  • John McPherson, internationally syndicated cartoonist, creator of the comic “Close to Home”
  • Steven Millhauser, writer, winner of 1997 Pulitzer Prize, lives in Saratoga Springs
  • Frank Sullivan, writer, The New Yorker
  • Katrina Trask (1853–1922), poet and playwright. Wife of Spencer Trask
  • Dale Willman, award-winning journalist, co-publisher of Saratoga Wire, a local on-line news source
  • Craig Wilson, columnist for USA Today, formerly columnist for the Saratogian


  • Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, thoroughbred-racing enthusiast; owns a horse farm in Saratoga.
  • George S. Bolster (1913–1989), photographer
  • Nelson Cook (1808–1892), painter, lived in Saratoga Springs
  • Ransom Cook (1794–1881), long-time resident of Saratoga, inventor of the Cook Auger, or “Beetle Bit”.
  • George Crum, inventor of the potato chip; a Native American/African American chef at Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake.
  • Ulysses S. Grant, late life resident; died of cancer in 1885 at his cottage on Mt. McGregor just north of Saratoga Springs
  • Hattie Moseley Austin, restaurateur, founder of Saratoga institution, Hattie’s Chicken Shack.
  • Gene Markey (1895–1980), screenwriter, producer, U.S. Naval officer owned a home in Saratoga Springs
  • Solomon Northup, musician who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841 and held in Louisiana for 12 years before being freed; his 1853 memoir Twelve Years a Slave was a bestseller.
  • Matt Rhoades, campaign manager for the 2012 Romney-Ryan presidential campaign
  • Jane Roberts (1929-1984), author, psychic and trance medium or spirit medium, born and grew up in Saratoga Springs
  • Lucy Skidmore Scribner (1853-1931), founder of The Young Women’s Industrial Club, now Skidmore College.
  • Lena Spencer (c.1923–1989), founder of Caffè Lena coffee house
  • Spencer Trask (1844–1909), financier and venture capitalist, builder of Yaddo
  • Angeline Tubbs (1761–1865), “The Witch of Saratoga”
  • Henry Walton (1804-1865), painter, born and grew up in Saratoga Springs, and produced his earliest work here.
  • Ellen Hardin Walworth (1832–1915), author and suffragette, founder of the Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Reuben Hyde Walworth (1788–1867), lawyer and politician. He was the last Chancellor of New York
  • Marylou Whitney, socialite; maintains a home at Cady Hill
  • Mollie Wilmot, socialite, philanthropist