Spa State Park


The Hall of Springs and the reflecting pool at Spa State Park

So, do people actually drink and bathe in that stuff? It's the most commonly asked question about Saratoga Springs mineral water. And one whiff will tell you why they ask.

The answer is, of course, yes. In fact, the popularity of this odorous (read: stinky), bubbly water put Saratoga Springs on the map, and led to the construction of one of the area's most popular parks. And a former confederate surgeon was behind the whole thing.

In the 1920's a doctor named Simon Baruch was intrigued by the mineral waters in Saratoga Springs. The German born physician was a civil war surgeon for the confederacy. Later he developed an interest in hydrotherapy and bathing for health and wellness. Baruch thought Saratoga's mineral waters could be used in healing. He wanted to build a spa in Saratoga that was akin to the great spas of Europe.

Unfortunately, Dr. Baruch died before he could see his dream fulfilled.
But his son, the well-known financier, Bernard Baruch had the ear of New York's then-governor, Franklin Roosevelt and got the park built with state funds.

By 1932 construction was underway on The Hall of Springs. The reflecting pool, a pair of bath houses and an administrative building followed. Eventually the Victoria pool and the Gideon Putnam Hotel were added.

The spa opened to visitors in 1935. People took mineral baths, strolled through the beautiful archways and visited the Hall of Springs, where they sipped the different mineral waters while listening to chamber music. For two decades it offered world-class treatment in state-of-the-art facilities. Thousands of people stayed there each year and thousands of others visited daily for mineral baths. A research laboratory and adjoining lecture hall (now Spa Little Theater) were bustling with activity as scientists studied the impact of mineral water on patients' cardiovascular and circulatory systems.

But by the mid-1950s, attendance at the spa began to decline. Things had to change if the park was going to sustain itself. The state added 800-acres of undeveloped land and built picnic sites, the Peerless Pool and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Today Spa State Park is known for its concerts, swimming pools, golf courses, hiking trails, picnic areas and other attractions. But you can still relax in a mineral bath, stroll the archways, and maybe even take a peek into the Hall of Springs and relive the glory days of Dr. Baruch's great spa.

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For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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