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Rensselaer County
Seal of Rensselaer County
Name origin: For the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owners of Rensselaerswyck
Country United States
State New York
Region Upstate New York
District Capital District
Cities Troy, Rensselaer
Capital City of Troy
 - elevation 30 ft (9 m)
 - coordinates 42°43′53″N 73°41′30″W / 42.73139, -73.69167
Highest point Berlin Mountain
 - location Town of Berlin, on border with Massachusetts
 - elevation 2,818 ft (859 m)
 - coordinates 42°41′32″N 73°17′08″W / 42.69222, -73.28556
Lowest point Hudson River at sea level
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Area 665 sq mi (1,722 km²)
 - land 654 sq mi (1,694 km²)
 - water 11 sq mi (28 km²)
Population 159,429 (2010)
Density 243 / sq mi (94 / km²)
Incorporated 1791
County executive Kathleen M. Jimino
Timezone Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
Area code 518
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County

Map of Rensselaer County showing the cities, towns, and villages
Map of Rensselaer County showing the cities, towns, and villages

Wikimedia Commons: Rensselaer County, New York

Rensselaer County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 159,429. Its name is in honor of the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owner of the land in the area. Its county seat is Troy. It is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area.


For the history of Rensselaer County prior to 1791, see Albany County, New York

Map of Rensselaer County in 1829

The area that is now Rensselaer County was originally inhabited by the Mohican Indian tribe until it was bought by the Dutch jeweler and merchant Kiliaen van Rensselaer in 1630 and incorporated in his patroonship Rensselaerswyck (which, in turn, was part of the Dutch colony New Netherland). The land passed into English hands in 1664 until the Dutch regained control for a year in 1673, but the English took it back in 1674. Until 1776, the year of American independence, it was under English or British control.[1] However, the county didn't actually exist as a legal entity until 1791 when it was created from land that was originally part of Albany County.

In 1807, in a county re-organization, the rural sections of Troy were set off as towns, and the city itself was incorporated. The two towns created were Brunswick and Grafton, both named after British dukes, (the Duke of Brunswick and Duke of Grafton). A third town, Philipstown, was set off in 1806, but renamed in 1808 to Nassau after the Duke of Nassau.


A farm in Brunswick

Rensselaer County is in the eastern part of New York State. The eastern boundary of Rensselaer County runs along the New York-Vermont and New York-Massachusetts borders.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 665 square miles (1,723 km²), of which 654 square miles (1,694 km²) is land and 11 square miles (30 km²) (1.72%) is water.

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 sea level at the Hudson.

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

Adjacent counties[]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 30,442
1810 36,309 19.3%
1820 40,153 10.6%
1830 49,424 23.1%
1840 60,259 21.9%
1850 73,363 21.7%
1860 86,328 17.7%
1870 99,549 15.3%
1880 115,328 15.9%
1890 124,511 8.0%
1900 121,697 −2.3%
1910 122,276 0.5%
1920 113,129 −7.5%
1930 119,781 5.9%
1940 121,834 1.7%
1950 132,607 8.8%
1960 142,585 7.5%
1970 152,510 7.0%
1980 151,966 −0.4%
1990 154,429 1.6%
2000 152,538 −1.2%
2010 159,429 4.5%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 152,538 people, 59,894 households, and 39,050 families residing in the county. The population density was 233 people per square mile (90/km²). There were 66,120 housing units at an average density of 101 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.13% White, 4.69% 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. 2.11% 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 and 5.3% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.4% spoke English and 2.0% Spanish as their first language.

There were 59,894 households out of which 31.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.80% 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 politics[]

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

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.

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 Kathleen M. Jimino. She is one of only four female county executives in New York State. Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 19 members representing 16 different communities, separated into six districts. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (10 Republicans, 5 Democrats, 3 Conservatives that caucus with the Republicans and 1 Blank who caucuses with the Democrats):

District 1, Troy:
Kathleen Ryan Cassidy (B)
Mark J. Fleming (D)
Edward Manny (D)
Lou Rosamilia (D)
Peter Grimm (D)
Peter J. Ryan (D), Minority Leader

District 2, North Greenbush, East Greenbush, and Poestenkill:
Michael Cristo, Jr. (C)
Philip Danaher (C), Vice Chairman-Finance
Louis Desso (C)
Leon Fiacco (R)

District 3, Brunswick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown:
Thomas Walsh (R)
Richard Salisbury (R)
Kenneth Herrington (R), Majority Leader

District 4, Schodack, Sand Lake, and Nassau:
Judith Breselor (R)
Martin Reid (R), Chairman
Alex Shannon (R) [6]

District 5, Hoosick Falls, Hoosick, Grafton, Berlin, Stephentown, & Petersburgh:
Stanley Brownell (R), Vice Chairman
Lester Goodermote (R)

District 6, Rensselaer:
Mike Stammel (R)

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 –

Cities, towns, villages, and other locations[]

  • Averill Park
  • Berlin (town)
  • Brunswick (town)
  • Castleton-on-Hudson (village)
  • East Greenbush (town)
  • East Nassau (village)
  • Grafton (town)
  • Hampton Manor
  • Hoosick Falls (village)

  • Hoosick (town)
  • Nassau (town)
  • Nassau (village)
  • North Greenbush (town)
  • Petersburgh (town)
  • Pittstown (town)
  • Poestenkill (town)
  • Rensselaer (city)
  • Sand Lake (town)

  • Schaghticoke (town)
  • Schaghticoke (village)
  • Schodack (town)
  • Stephentown (town)
  • Troy (city)
  • Valley Falls (village)
  • West Sand Lake
  • Wynantskill

School districts[]

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.[7]

District BOCES[8][9] 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 Questar III None
Wynantskill Union Free School District Questar III None

See also[]

  • List of counties in New York
  • List of county routes in Rensselaer County, New York
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Rensselaer County, New York


Further reading[]

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Rensselaer County, New York. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.