Saratoga Chips

Saratoga Trunks

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Try getting this through airport security.

By Mike Hare

Before the rich and famous sported Louis Vuitton luggage, they packed up their Saratoga Trunks for their summers at The Spa.

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Diamonds are a (very large) guy's best friend

By Mike Hare

Diamond_Jim_Brady.jpgHis eduction was minimal, and his manners unrefined, but in the 1890's Diamond Jim Brady was one of the richest and best-known men in the country. And he and Lillian Russell were a big part of the Saratoga scene.


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The Churchill connection

By Mike Hare

Winston Churchill portraitHe has nothing to do with Kentucky's "Churchill Downs" but Winston Churchill does have a connection to the Saratoga Racecourse.

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The Spa Park gold rush of 1932

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Saratoga's Hall of Springs. No, there's no gold left.

By Mike Hare

On a hot summer day in the depths of the Great Depression, Saratogians found something other than water, and much more valuable, beneath the ground.

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Caffe Lena

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A slice of music history.

By Mike Hare

When you hear it on the radio, you can be pretty sure the D.J. is out on a smoke break. But here's what you may not know about the longest song ever to top the Billboard charts-- it was written in Saratoga Springs and debuted in an historic Spa City coffee house.

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Who was that Travers guy anyway?

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Line up here for the midsummer derby

By Mike Hare

Tomorrow marks the 139th running of the Travers Stakes. Saratoga's signature race is the oldest horse race in the nation. The first "Travers" was run 11 years before the Kentucky Derby. So who was Travers? And why did they name a race after him?

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Spa State Park

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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.

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Saratoga is not faultless

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The springs at High Rock Park.

By Mike Hare

The carbonated mineral water that bubbles up from the springs in Saratoga is what put the city on the map some 200 years ago. And it's still a big attraction today. But why is it here? There's a fault behind it -- but no one is to blame.

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Madam Jumel

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Madam Jumel's Circular Street home. No, Aaron Burr never slept here.

By Mike Hare

One of the raciest residents of Saratoga Springs began life as a prostitute, befriended Napoleon and married a U.S. Vice President. Her name was Betsy Bowen, but she
was better known as Madam Jumel.

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Nevermore

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Edgar Allan Poe

By Mike Hare

The Raven is one of Edgar Allan Poe's best known works. The poem has been read
all over the world. But the first time the mysterious black bird quoth "nevermore"
was in Saratoga Springs.

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The Trasks of Yaddo

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The house that Trask built.

By Mike Hare

It's one of the best kept secrets in Saratoga, but John Cheever, Leonard Bernstein and
Truman Capote knew about it. They're just a few of the thousands of artists who've
spent summers at Yaddo.

But the romantic tragedy that surrounds Yaddo began years before their visits.

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The double agent bartender

Olde Bryan Inn sign

You never know who might be listening at the bar.

By Mike Hare

The term "double agent" didn't exist in the Revolutionary War, but that's how you'd describe Alexander Bryan today.

You'd also describe him as the guy who helped win the Revolutionary War.

But today, you'd probably recognize his name for something else.

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The graveyard of favorites

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Champions beware.

By Mike Hare

You've heard it called "The Graveyard of Favorites," but the more appropriate name may be "Graveyard of Champions." Some of the world's most amazing thoroughbreds learned what it is to lose in Saratoga.

And one of the most dramatic defeats took place 89 years ago today.

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Gideon who?

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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.

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The Saratoga chip

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Yummmm. Crispy, fried, potatoey goodness.

By Mike Hare

You know you can't eat just one, but do you know where they were invented? Or how?

Here's something you can chew on with your next sandwich.

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O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A

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Oh what a beautiful morning.

By Mike Hare

What do Rodgers and Hammerstein have in common with Saratoga's training track?
Nothing really. But there's a reason people make the connection.

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It's 10 o'clock. Do you know what time it is?

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That sculpture behind the bank on Broadway--it's for Charles Dowd.

By Mike Hare

If it's 10 AM in New York City, what time is it in Boston? How about Philadelphia? Or Washington D.C.? These questions were a lot tougher to answer before a Saratoga headmaster stepped in and synchronized a nation.

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The not so Grand Union Hotel

Grand Union postcard

Yeah, today it's The Gap.

By Mike Hare

Here's a little something to toss out while you're sipping drinks at The Adelphi. Back in its heyday, this old Victorian gem offered something many of the Spa City's other hotels didn't. An open door policy.

A what?

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The Governor who saved the springs

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mmmmmm... spring water.

By Mike Hare

He was a NY State Governor, a presidential candidate and United States Chief Justice, but in Saratoga, he's best known as the guy who saved the springs.

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George Washington slurped here

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In an alternate universe this could have been Mt. Vernon North.

By Mike Hare

Here's something to think about while you're shopping for tomatoes at the Saratoga Farmers' Market.

After the Revolutionary War, and before he became our first President, George Washington had a little time, and money, on his hands. In the summer of 1783, he made a day trip to Saratoga.

If he had his way back then, you'd be shopping somewhere else today.

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It's Batcheller, not Bachelor

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Bachelors didn't live here. Batchellers did.

By Mike Hare

It's an easy mistake. When you hear the locals talk about the well known mansion above Congress Park you'd think it was an elaborate "Bachelor pad" from the Rat Pack age.
But the BATCHELLER mansion wasn't built by a swinging single cat in the 1940's, it was designed by a guy named Batcheller in the 1870's. A pretty impressive guy.

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The Canfield Casino's house rules

the Canfield Casion

The Canfield Casino in Congress Park.

By Mike Hare

Today it's used for weddings and big fancy parties like the annual Whitney Gala, but there was a time when The Canfield Casino would have been off limits to Mrs. Whitney.

When bare knuckle-boxer-turned-gang-member-turned-US-Congressman John Morrissey opened the casino in Saratoga's Congress park in the early 1870's, the house only had three rules. But those rules were enough to keep the place both "exclusive" and open when gambling was illegal.

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Birth of a bank

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Protecting your money (and decency) since 1902.

You hear the phrase "financial institution" and you probably don't think "colorful back-story," but one Saratoga Springs legend links a notorious gambler to the creation of The Adirondack Trust Company.

We're not sure if you can take this tale to the bank, but it sure is fun to tell.

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Breakfast with a history

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Breakfast at the track.

By Mike Hare

When you order your eggs and bacon for breakfast at the Saratoga Racecourse, you're following a tradition that dates from the late 19th century.

Only backwards.

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The Big Red Spring

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Slurp at your own risk.

By Mike Hare

Thirsty at The Track? Don't want to wait in line at the Jim Dandy Bar? Rather put your money on the horses than an expensive beer?

Well, maybe you should raise a glass to Secretariat and Man O'War.


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How Congress Park got its name

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Congress Park in Saratoga Springs

By Mike Hare

Today it's known as the center of downtown Saratoga Springs, but back in the day, when Saratoga was just a settlement, Congress Park was only a swampy hunting ground.


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Become a Saratoga know-it-all

saratoga racecourse entrance

There might be one or two things to say about this place.

By Mike Hare

From the Editors: With the return of track season in Saratoga, we figured we'd drop some conversational currency about the Spa City on you. Impress your friends over drinks at the Adelphi! Fill that awkward silence with out-of-town guests! Be a know-it-all! We'll feature a new fact/tidbit/historical note each day about Saratoga from now until September. Here's the first...

Quick, what's the oldest sporting venue in the United States?

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I ride every day to work, and also after work for exercise. I love the concept of being a person who happens to ride a bike. There's a level of bike riding, with the high performance gear and sleek clothing, that makes riding seem like its not for everyone. I try to avoid markers like that, and always wear regular clothing/shoes/backpack with dumpy-looking bike. One concession is bike gloves.

Gawking at the new Schenectady train station

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