Troy: The Hidden Gem of Upstate NY
By: Jonna Royer
Visiting the town of Troy in upstate New York came as a complete surprise. While sitting at a bar in Saratoga Springs, my husband and I struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to us. When he found out I was a travel writer, he began to gush about his hometown of Troy and urged me to pay it a visit. The next day, we heeded his advice by taking an impromptu trip, and found a town steeped in beauty, art, and culture.
Around the turn of the 19th/20th century, Troy was the fourth wealthiest city in America. However, like many towns based on industrialism, it fell upon hard times. But, the foundation of beauty that was laid during that time period still exists today in the form of majestic brownstones and spectacular Victorian architecture.
Many buildings in the area boast wonderful murals that add to the aesthetic quality of the town. In addition, it has become the home of many artists and galleries. Walking through the streets is a feast for the eye as businesses and studios display the fun, quirky personalities of resident artists.
History comes to life in Troy through the many festivals held throughout the year, as well as an abundance of historical landmarks. One of its most intriguing, and best-known, festivals is The Victorian Stroll. Held each December, the streets are closed to traffic to make way for more than 100 free attractions from musicians to dancers to magicians. People-watching is a prime activity of this festival, since many attendees get into the spirit of a Dickens Christmas by dressing in traditional Victorian attire. This event is so popular that is has become the largest free holiday festival in the Northeast.
Troy also boasts an incredible breadth of historical landmarks ranging from the home of Herman Melville to the Woodside Church, which is now home to the Contemporary Artists Center. You could spend days just visiting all of Troy’s tributes to history. However, what intrigued me the most was Oakwood Cemetery, which first caught my attention because it is the final resting place of “Uncle Sam.” Until that moment, I had never realized this iconic figure was an actual person. My interest was further piqued when I discovered the cemetery holds status as a public park and is one of the top tourist attractions in Troy, given the incredible sculptures and mausoleums, as well as the opportunity to take in sweeping views of the Hudson River Valley. Traversing the 352-acre park by foot would be time consuming, but there are many benches interspersed along the path to allow visitors a moment to rest and take in the tranquil beauty of their surroundings. However, traveling by car may be more efficient if you want to see all of it and the paths allow easy access by vehicle.
Given that I had never heard of Troy prior to meeting that fateful stranger, the town kept doling out one pleasant surprise after another. While it may still bear the scars of the economic downturn that plagued many industrial centers during the past decades, it is easy to see the artistic direction in which the town is now headed. Plan your visit by going to to see a list of events, shops, historic buildings, and more.
Jonna is a travel writer and photographer driven by a curiosity usually reserved for kittens and small children. On sunny days, she can be found on her motorcycle with a backpackfull of camera equipment looking for the perfect shot and meeting new friends along the way. Follow her adventures at