URBAN COMMUNITYWITH A SMALL TOWN FEEL
By P. Thomas Carroll, PhD, Executive Director, Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway and RiverSpark Heritage Area
One of the singular attractions of Troy is its sense of community, something sadly lacking in the impersonal suburbs and the anonymous big cities. A good part of TROY.NY’s rich community derives from its size and its shape. With just under fifty thousand people, it contains just enough different faces to make life interesting, but not enough to make chance encounters with friends on the city streets a rarity. Because it is nestled between a waterfront and a bluff only a handful of blocks apart, and because it has not lost its nineteenth-century infrastructure, it still has the feel of what urban historians call the “walking city,” a fabled early community in which most people got around on foot rather than on streetcars, subways, buses, and automobiles, and sidewalks were a welcoming mélange of shop windows, café tables, and shade trees. The combination of familiarity and pedestrian ambiance easily creates the sensation of being part of a village with a human face on it.
Adding to that sense of identity with the people around you is Troy’s diverse ethnic heritage and its current social composition. Many of the traditional immigrant groups in town remember their ancestry at locations like the Italian Community Center in Little Italy, the Germania Banquet Haus, and the Polish American Club. Ethnic churches, such as the Maronite St. Anne’s Church on Fourth, or the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Third, or the Fifth Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church in Lansingburgh, or St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Church (with its annual Big Fat Greek Festival) on River Street, offer similar rootedness.
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A welcoming culture