Gideon who?

GideonPutnamHotel.jpg

Saratoga's Gideon Putnam Hotel

By Mike Hare

Gideon Putnam? Sure, he's the guy they named that swanky hotel for. But who is he? And what exactly did he do to get a swanky Saratoga hotel named for him anyway?

Nothing much. He just designed the streets, established tourism and made sure the springs in Saratoga would always belong to the people.

Gideon Putnam was a visionary alright. Who would have thought that the, umm, tasty mineral water in Saratoga Springs would have made it the tourist mecca that it's become?

For some reason, Gideon Putnam did.

Shortly after the Revolutionary War, Putnam settled in Saratoga with his family. When Nicholas Gilman practically tripped on Congress Spring, Putnam was the guy who understood what he'd found. He leased nearby property and as the springs became popular, he became the town's first innkeeper.

He established "Putnam's Tavern and Boarding House" across from the spring, on property that eventually became the site of The Grand Union Hotel. Today it houses The Gap and Banana Republic.

Putnam also drew up the street plans for what was then called the "Lower Village."
The streets included Broad Street, which later became Broadway, and Phila, which
most people assume is short for Philadelphia. It's not. It's named for Phila Putnam,
one of Gideon Putnam's nine children.

As Putnam designed the town, more and more springs were discovered. His designs
ensured that all of these springs would always be on public land. The decision helped
protect the springs and the tourist trade.

Putnam's hotel became extremely popular, so he set to work on a larger one called
Congress Hall. But during its construction he fell from scaffolding, and died from his wounds.

In the 1930s when a hotel was opened in what is now Spa State Park, it was named for Gideon Putnam, the innkeeper, visionary and the father of Saratoga Springs.


Mike Hare is the author of Saratoga Lives and a Spa City tour guide.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (not bad), to baseball,... (more)

Approval for another large residential project in downtown Albany that could be the first of many notable projects, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million... (more)

A row of buildings gone, except for one

A follow up of sorts about the old, beautiful Mechanics and Farmers Bank building at the corner of State and James in downtown Albany and... (more)

BUILT 2018 call for entries

This year's Historic Albany Foundation BUILT event -- "Albany's Architecture through Artists' Eyes" -- will be at the State Museum November 3. The annual fundraiser... (more)

"Gambling was the bedrock of every day of our lives growing up in Schenectady"

At the center of this Ringer profile of new Monday Night Football play-by-play man Joe Tessitore is an account of his childhood in/around Schenectady and... (more)