Rensselaer County, New York

Rensselaer County /rɛnsəˈlɪər/ is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2020 census, the population was 161,130.[2] Its county seat is Troy.[3] The county is named in honor of the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owner of the land in the area.

Rensselaer County
Rensselaer County Courthouse
Rensselaer County Courthouse
Flag of Rensselaer County
Official seal of Rensselaer County
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County
Location within the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°42′36″N 73°29′24″W / 42.71000°N 73.49000°W / 42.71000; -73.49000Coordinates: 42°42′36″N 73°29′24″W / 42.71000°N 73.49000°W / 42.71000; -73.49000
Country United States
State New York
Founded1791
Named forKiliaen van Rensselaer
SeatTroy
Largest cityTroy
Area
 • Total665 sq mi (1,720 km2)
 • Land652 sq mi (1,690 km2)
 • Water13 sq mi (30 km2)  1.9%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total161,133[1]
 • Density247.0/sq mi (95.4/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts19th, 20th
Websitewww.rensco.com

Rensselaer County is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area.

HistoryEdit

 
Map of Rensselaer County in 1829

The area that is now Rensselaer County was inhabited by the Algonquian-speaking Mohican Indian tribe at the time of European encounter. Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a Dutch jeweler and merchant, purchased the area in 1630 and incorporated it in his patroonship Rensselaerswyck. (It was part of the Dutch colony New Netherland).[4]

The land passed into English rule in 1664; the Dutch regained control in 1673, but the English took it back in 1674. Until 1776, the year of American independence, the county was under English or British control.[5] The county was not organized as a legal entity until after the Revolution, in 1791, when it was created from an area that was originally part of the very large Albany County.[6][7]

In 1807, in a county re-organization, the rural sections of Troy were set off as Towns, and the city was incorporated. The two towns created were Brunswick (named for Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Braunschweig-Lüneburg) and Grafton (named for Henry FitzRoy, 5th Duke of Grafton). A third town, Philipstown, was set off in 1806. In 1808, it was renamed Nassau after the duke of that area.

GeographyEdit

 
A farm in Brunswick

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 665 square miles (1,720 km2), of which 652 square miles (1,690 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (1.9%) is water.[8]

Rensselaer County is in the eastern part of New York State. The eastern boundary of Rensselaer County runs along the New YorkVermont and New YorkMassachusetts borders.

The terrain runs from level and flat near the Hudson and then rises into the Rensselaer Plateau around Poestenkill and Sand Lake, then to the Taconic Mountains along the Massachusetts state line.

The highest point is Berlin Mountain, 2,818 feet (859 m) above sea level, in the town of Berlin. The lowest point is 62 feet (19 m) above sea level at the Hudson River's southernmost extent in the county.

The Hoosic River, a tributary of the Hudson River, is in the northern part of the county.

Depending on precise location within the county, road travel distance to New York City ranges between 132 miles (212 km) and 178 miles (286 km).

Adjacent countiesEdit

DemographicsEdit

Historical population
Census Pop.
180030,442
181036,30919.3%
182040,15310.6%
183049,42423.1%
184060,25921.9%
185073,36321.7%
186086,32817.7%
187099,54915.3%
1880115,32815.9%
1890124,5118.0%
1900121,697−2.3%
1910122,2760.5%
1920113,129−7.5%
1930119,7815.9%
1940121,8341.7%
1950132,6078.8%
1960142,5857.5%
1970152,5107.0%
1980151,966−0.4%
1990154,4291.6%
2000152,538−1.2%
2010159,4294.5%
2020161,1301.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2020[2]

As of the census[13] of 2010, there were 159,429 people, 62,694 households, and 39,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 233 people per square mile (90/km2). There were 69,120 housing units at an average density of 109 per square mile (39/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.73% White, 7.14% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 1.71% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. 5.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.3% were of Irish, 14.7% Italian, 12.8% German, 7.5% English, 6.2% French, 5.3% American and 2.3% Puerto Rican ancestry according to Census 2010. 95.4% spoke English and 2.7% Spanish as their first language.

There were 61,094 households, out of which 33.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.80% were married couples living together, 12.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.80% were non-families. 27.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.20% under the age of 18, 10.10% from 18 to 24, 29.10% from 25 to 44, 23.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,905, and the median income for a family was $52,864. Males had a median income of $36,666 versus $28,153 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,095. About 6.70% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.90% of those under age 18 and 6.60% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politicsEdit

 
Rensselaer County Office building, which houses county offices, including that of the County Executive
 
Rensselaer County Courthouse, located on the corner of Congress and 2nd Streets in Troy
United States presidential election results for Rensselaer County, New York[14]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 36,500 45.96% 40,969 51.59% 1,940 2.44%
2016 33,726 47.13% 32,717 45.72% 5,119 7.15%
2012 29,113 42.77% 37,408 54.96% 1,540 2.26%
2008 32,840 44.39% 39,753 53.73% 1,393 1.88%
2004 34,734 47.90% 36,075 49.75% 1,705 2.35%
2000 29,562 43.20% 34,808 50.86% 4,066 5.94%
1996 23,482 34.72% 34,273 50.68% 9,870 14.60%
1992 28,937 38.80% 29,793 39.95% 15,850 21.25%
1988 35,412 51.18% 33,066 47.79% 719 1.04%
1984 43,892 61.94% 26,755 37.76% 217 0.31%
1980 32,005 45.89% 29,880 42.84% 7,862 11.27%
1976 40,229 57.76% 28,979 41.60% 445 0.64%
1972 48,864 66.87% 24,019 32.87% 188 0.26%
1968 34,674 50.49% 30,232 44.02% 3,775 5.50%
1964 20,814 28.88% 51,170 71.01% 76 0.11%
1960 40,124 52.59% 36,109 47.33% 61 0.08%
1956 55,186 72.90% 20,516 27.10% 0 0.00%
1952 51,453 66.57% 25,734 33.29% 109 0.14%
1948 40,375 56.71% 28,468 39.98% 2,354 3.31%
1944 37,819 55.51% 30,173 44.29% 139 0.20%
1940 39,648 54.97% 32,387 44.90% 97 0.13%
1936 34,772 50.67% 31,754 46.27% 2,095 3.05%
1932 30,606 47.66% 32,783 51.05% 828 1.29%
1928 32,370 48.90% 33,094 50.00% 727 1.10%
1924 30,549 55.88% 19,783 36.18% 4,341 7.94%
1920 28,810 56.08% 20,224 39.37% 2,337 4.55%
1916 14,968 51.21% 13,822 47.29% 440 1.51%
1912 10,853 39.48% 11,684 42.50% 4,954 18.02%
1908 17,196 54.92% 13,162 42.04% 953 3.04%
1904 17,631 56.72% 12,529 40.31% 925 2.98%
1900 17,228 55.03% 13,464 43.01% 614 1.96%
1896 17,221 55.71% 13,119 42.44% 574 1.86%
1892 13,666 45.64% 14,879 49.69% 1,397 4.67%
1888 15,718 49.62% 15,410 48.65% 549 1.73%
1884 13,759 48.66% 13,414 47.44% 1,102 3.90%


From 1884 through the 1988 campaign, voters in Rensselaer County chiefly supported the Republican candidate, though the county has since swung to a majority voting for the Democrat, with Donald Trump in 2016 the sole Republican to carry the county since.

Beginning in 1791, Rensselaer County was governed by a Board of Supervisors, which acted as the Legislature, with the chairman of the board serving as a de facto Executive. The Board of Supervisors form of government was terminated as a result of a class action lawsuit brought by Troy attorney Marvin I. Honig on behalf of his wife, Nedda, during March 1968. Mr. Honig brought this lawsuit to declare that the Board of Supervisors, as constituted, violated the "one man, one vote" principal declared by the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Honig's motive in bringing the lawsuit was to punish the Rensselaer County Republican Party chairman and certain members of the Board of Supervisors for defaulting on an agreement with him. The NY Supreme Court ruled in Honig's favor, and ordered the creation of a legislative body. Several plans were offered, but a plan proposed by Honig was adopted by the Court, and its decision was affirmed by the Appellate Division and Court of Appeals. The first "Honig Plan" was drawn to favor the Democratic party, which had not had control of the county government in decades. That plan, which controlled the 1969 election, resulted in the Democrats winning control of the new Rensselaer County Legislature. Thereafter, following a change of leadership in the Republican party, Honig brought a new plan, drawn to favor Republican candidates, to the court, which adopted his revised plan. The second "Honig Plan" was affirmed by the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals. The Republican candidates won back the County Legislature in the 1971 election, and Honig became the Renssselaer County Attorney, a position he held for well over a decade. A full explanation of the creation of the Rensselaer County Legislature can be found at http://nassau-stories.blogspot.com/2006/04/reapportionment.html. See also: The Troy Record, July 8, 1971, page 1.

In 1970, the Rensselaer County Legislature was created, which elected Edward J. "Ned" Quinn as chairman. The Chairman served as the equivalent to an executive until the office of County Executive was created in 1972. Since its creation, Democrats have never won the office, although they controlled the Legislature until 1994. One notable candidate for Executive was Edward Pattison who was later elected to Congress, and whose son Mark served two terms as Mayor of Troy. The current county executive is Steve McLaughlin (R).

Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 19 members representing 17 different communities, separated into six districts. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (ten Republicans, six Democrats, two Conservatives who caucus with the Republicans, and one Independent who caucuses with the Republicans):

District 1 – City of Troy:

  •    Cynthia B. Doran (D), Deputy Minority Leader
  •    Mark J. Fleming (D)
  •    Peter D. Grimm (D), Minority Leader
  •    Nina M. Nichols (D)
  •    Carole C. Weaver (D)
  •    Ken Zalewski (D)

District 2 – East Greenbush, North Greenbush, and Poestenkill:

  •    Robert W. Bayly (R), Vice Chairperson for Finance
  •    Leon B. Fiacco (R)
  •    Thomas Grant (R)
  •    Kelly Hoffman (C), Chairwoman

District 3 – Brunswick, Pittstown, and Schaghticoke:

  •    Dan Casale (R)
  •    Kenneth H. Herrington (R), Majority Leader
  •    William Maloney (R)

District 4 – Nassau, Sand Lake, and Schodack:

  •    Scott Bendett (R)
  •    Thomas Choquette (B)
  •    Robert R. Loveridge (R), Vice Chairperson

District 5 – Berlin, Grafton, Hoosick, Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and Stephentown:

  •    Bruce Patire (R)
  •    Jeffrey Wysocki (R)

District 6 – City of Rensselaer:

  •    Brian Stall (C)
Rensselaer County Executives
Name Party Term
William J. Murphy Republican January 1, 1974 – December 31, 1985
John L. Buono Republican January 1, 1986 – May, 1995
Henry F. Zwack Republican May, 1995 – May 13, 2001
Kathleen M. Jimino Republican May, 2001 – December 31, 2017
Steven F. McLaughlin Republican January 1, 2018 – present

As of 2021 the current sheriff is Patrick A. Russo.[15] Notably, Russo was the only sheriff in the state to embrace Immigration and Nationality Act Section 287(g), which authorizes local and county law enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants.[16][17][18]

EducationEdit

The county is serviced by 16 school districts. Some are completely contained in the county while some cross county lines into other counties. No school districts cross either the Vermont or Massachusetts state borders. Below is a table that shows the districts within the county, which BOCES they belong to, and which other counties they may serve.[19]

District BOCES[20][21] Other counties
district serves
Averill Park Central School District Questar III None
Berlin Central School District Questar III None
Brunswick (Brittonkill) Central School District Questar III None
Cambridge Central School District WSWHE BOCES Washington County
East Greenbush Central School District Questar III Columbia County
Hoosic Valley Central School District Questar III Washington County
Hoosick Falls Central School District N/A Washington County
Ichabod Crane Central School District Questar III Columbia County
Lansingburgh Central School District Questar III None
Mechanicville City School District WSWHE BOCES Saratoga County
New Lebanon Central School District Questar III Columbia County
North Greenbush Common School District Questar III None
Rensselaer City School District Questar III None
Schodack Central School District Questar III Columbia County
Troy City School District Capital Region Boces None
Wynantskill Union Free School District Questar III None

The private, coeducational Doane Stuart School is also located in Rensselaer County.[22]

CommunitiesEdit

 
Map of towns, cities and villages within Rensselaer County

CitiesEdit

TownsEdit

VillagesEdit

Census-designated placesEdit

HamletsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "US Census 2020 Population Dataset Tables for New York". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Rensselaer County, New York". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Freedoms, as Given by the Council of the Nineteen of the Chartered West India Company to All those who Want to Establish a Colony in New Netherland". World Digital Library. 1630. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  5. ^ The Kingdom of England existed until the Acts of Union 1707, when Scotland and England (including Wales) came together to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
  6. ^ "Rensselaer County History". Rensselaer County Historical Society. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  7. ^ (N.Y. Laws 1791, 14th sess., ch. 4/p. 201).
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  14. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org.
  15. ^ "Sheriff – Rensselaer County". Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  16. ^ Robbins, Liz (March 20, 2018). "A Lone New York Sheriff Signs Up to Aid Immigration Crackdown". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  17. ^ Dave Lucas (July 29, 2019). "Activists Suing Rensselaer County Over Plan To Provide Voter Information To ICE". WAMC. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  18. ^ "Rensselaer County sheriff responds to complaint filed against jail, ICE". NEWS10 ABC. September 25, 2021. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  19. ^ Rensselaer County School Districts. Archived 2009-02-07 at the Wayback Machine Capital District Regional Planning Commission. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  20. ^ Questar III Component School Districts. Archived 2010-07-07 at the Wayback Machine Questar III. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  21. ^ Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES Component Districts. Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  22. ^ "Doane Stuart School Profile - Rensselaer, New York (NY)". www.privateschoolreview.com.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit