In-between places: Waterford

waterford broad street

By Lauren Hittinger

The Capital Region is full of cities, towns, villages, and hamlets. And some of these places -- like Albany or Saratoga Springs or Troy or Schenectady -- get lots of attention. This series isn't about those places. It's about those other spots -- the "in-between" places.

The small village of Waterford is all about location, location, location -- along the water. Its spot at the convergence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers has been a key part of history, and continues to play a prominent role in the village today..


Google Map of 42.79159,-73.680282

Waterford is located at the convergence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and at the junction of the Erie and Champlain Canals. It's in the southeast corner of Saratoga County, about 12 miles north of Albany, northeast of Cohoes and west of Lansingburgh. The village of Waterford, which we'll focus on here, is at the southeast point of the town of Waterford.

Quick Numbers for the Village

Via the Census Bureau (ACS 5-year estimates 2012):

+ Population (in 2012): 2,245
+ Size: .28 square miles (land) | .35 square miles (land and water)
+ Median age : 40.2 years
+ Median household income : $51,477 (up from $34,135 in 2000)
+ Ethnic diversity: 91.9% of residents are white


The area now known as the village of Waterford had been a trading site controlled by the Mohawks. The first European settlers in the area were Dutch during the 1600s and they called the area Half Moon Point. The spot provided provided passage across the Mohawk River because of low water between the point and what's now called Peebles Island. The village of Waterford claims the title of being the oldest incorporated village in the United States, achieving that distinction in 1794. (The town of Waterford was split from the town of Halfmoon in the early 1800s.) By 1830, Waterford was one of the most developed towns in this area, and had a population of 1,472.

The village's location along the Hudson was crucial to early growth and development. Important industries included a sawmill built in 1784; flour mills, which were the primary industry in the mid-1800s; paper mills owned by Frank Gilbert, and then later Mohawk Paper; cooperage businesses; and the Eddy Valve Company, which produced fire hydrants.

Fun Trivia

+ At less than .3 square miles of land area, Waterford is smaller than 95 percent of the other villages in New York State.

+ Ethelda Bleibtrey, a Waterford resident and Olympic swimmer, was the first American woman to win an Olympic event and the first woman in the world to win three gold medals in swimming.

+ The "Flight of Locks" along the Erie Canal in Waterford (Locks E2-E6) represents the largest lift in the shortest distance (1.5 miles) of any lock system in the world.

+ Emma Willard School, the all-female preparatory school, was located in Waterford before setting up in Troy.



The waterways are still a crucial part of Waterford. Throughout the year there are multiple canal-based festivals, including the Tugboat Roundup and Canal Fest. There is also a small farmer's market along the canal on Sundays from June to October.

The high population density reflects itself in tightly spaced single-family homes inside the village. A quant feeling is still present, bolstered by Broad Street, which serves as a main street, and historic buildings throughout.

Melannie Hayes recently moved her family to Waterford and shared a few words about the village:

"My husband and I decided to move here because of its quiet bedroom community quality. Plus, the easy access to 787 for our work commute was a great selling point.  The locks have to be the most interesting point about Waterford.  They also have the Tugboat Round-Up and Steamboat Meet, which is nice to bring the family to.  You can see tugboats from around the world that come to celebrate, as well as fireworks.  At the end of our street, is the Waterford Rural Cemetery, which the town keeps immaculate.  We enjoy taking walks through there with our daughter and looking at the history of the townspeople.  Everyone is really so friendly.  We definitely feel safe raising our family here."

Places to Eat


+ Don & Paul's Coffee Shop - This is probably the most well known eatery in Waterford. It's become especially famous with harbor visitors for its good, but cheap, eats.

+ McGreivey's - A sit-down restaurant that aims to provide both pub food and fine dining. You can get anything from rack of lamb to chicken tenders here, somehow they pull it off.

+ The Angry Penguin Tavern - If you're looking for libations, especially if it's a pint, this might be the spot for you. While there's nothing fancy about The Angry Penguin, it's a good stop for a cold drink or a bite of pub food.



+ The Waterford Rural Cemetery

+ The Waterford Museum is open regular hours through November 2. (It also offers a downloadable walking tour.)

+ Broad Street has a few blocks of nice, old buildings -- including the town hall and town library.

+ And while Peebles Island State Park might not be within the village, it is just across a bridge. And it's great.

Lauren writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.

More in-between places:
+ Scotia
+ Mechanicville and Stillwater
+ In-between places: Ballston Spa


Such a cute little town. Right on the river with close access to Peebles Island and the bike trail.

There's also a great sign shop called One Day Signs right on Broad Street. The shop owner and family have lived in Waterford for years and are very involved in the community. I've used them for over 10 years and they've always done great work.

.3 square miles? I don' think that is accurate.

I grew up in Waterford and have spent most of my life in Waterford. Waterford will always have a special place in my heart and the people will also. My parents choose a great place for us to grow up. I still have many family who live in Waterford and although it has changed like everywhere else it is still loved and cherished by its community. The welcome center is gourgeous, the school is good, and the people are real. I hope to return to live in Waterford again cause that is my home and I love Waterford. GO FORDIANS.

@scott: The land area figure also struck me as being very small (maybe too small) when I first saw it. But here's the Census Bureau geographic data for Waterford village (it's a pdf because linking to the data in American Fact Finder is awkward).

The Census Bureau lists area in square meters.

Waterford's land area of 732555 square meters is equal to .28 square miles.

(The town of Waterford is about 6.6 square miles according to Census Burea data.)

I love how the Lakes to Locks Scenic Byway sign is so prominent in this photo!

I grown up in Waterford and I still till this day love.Waterford

The Village is just a small portion of the Town of Waterford - hence the small sq mile ratio

I love Waterford although I do not live there. My church, my favorite restaurant and general place to go, chill out and just be is all there People there are very nice and friendly.

I grew up there right on the Hudson on upper 3rd St. Waterford was a great place to grow up.

I spent the first 24 years of my life there, living first at 8th St, then Lawrence St. and finally renting the first floor of the old Quandt family home on Broad St. At the time, I loved everything about Waterford, the schools, the people, the playgrounds, the numerous bars, and the fishing in the canals and rivers, and the ice skating on the canals in the winter. I have moved many times since then and now live in Australia in another beautiful area. Hello to any of my old friends who may read this.

I grew up on Fifth St. (lock 2 on the Erie Canal) in the 50's and 60's.
So many great childhood memories. Much has changed, but a lot has stayed the same too.
Thanks for this article. Many facts I did not know.

I was born and raised in Waterford. Joined the Navy and departed Waterford in 1967. I miss this town and some of the people I graduated with still live there. It has been my pleasure to see how the town is progressing through web pages and regular posts on the internet.

For me, you couldn't ask for a better place to raise a family.
I truly miss it.

Tom Chaput, Class of "66"

I grew up in the Northside area and it was where all my Aunts, Uncles, cousins and grandparents lived we were a small, close community. Went to St. Ann's school and church than graduated from Keveny. We went sleigh riding on "the hill" ice skating on "the big pond" and played hop-scotch on the sidewalk. After 70 years, still friends with my childhood girlfriends and just loved my years in Northside.

I lived across from the rural cemetery on Maple Avenue. My grandfather and many of our family were buried there. It was a peaceful place.
We walked, to the grade school on Saratoga Ave, to high school on third street, to church by way of the old canal through Dial City. (Called "doil city" by many.) My dad took me to chase fire engines on many evenings, where fields were ablaze or smouldering. We followed the sirens to the cliffs over the Cohoes falls to find our neighbor child atop the power pole, dying. We rode the locks in the canal, walked down the spillway , defying the possible water hazard.
My Grammy, widowed, started a candy business from home; her son carried the candy to the Bleachery on Peebles Island.
Her other remaining son, Lloyd, was crippled most of his life, but enjoyed the walkers on the street and the parades down Saratoga Ave. Our neighbors were the Higgins, Harneys, Hammersleys, Pikes, Crandalls, Devitts, Coons, Richardsons, Potters, Marchants and Lafountaines.
We slid down a side street from the top to Davis Ave, setting a watcher at the end to cry out "Car!"
It was a good place. Our friends from the Methodist church held a picnic recently honoring our parents who were members of the Asbury Club. 50 people attended,

Like Tom Chaput (above), I grew up in Waterford and graduated from WHHS in 1966. Oct. of 2016 will be our 50th class reunion and I'm looking forward to getting back and seeing how the town has grown.My family has been part of Waterford for a very long time. Both my father and grandfather graduated from WHS and I still have a niece and nephew going to school there and two of my brothers still live in town. So, the Normandin family has been in Waterford for over 100 years. Many of my high school friends (Terry Stoliker, Ray Rocque to name a few) still are there. Great little town and great place to live.(Even though I live in North Carolina now.)

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