December 23, 2012 DPR

Saratoga Springs’ Special Tour

“Health, Horses and History”, a petite woman boasts as she explained the reasons why she recently sold her Atlantic City beach side apartment to move here. Every visit to Saratoga Springs (New York) seems to share a bit more interesting view of itself.

Spa City is Saratoga Springs. Within the Capital District of upstate New York, its history is rich with stories of famous regulars including dignitaries dating back for hundreds of years. But its rich history is not what attracts me. My interests have always been visual. It’s not even the popular horse racing or all the colorful regalia that follows close behind. Gambling never has been entertaining for me especially since the odds are always against the wager, unless of course the fix is in.

Life healing springs which can be found spouting from fountains everywhere is this city’s name sake and are special considering their origin.  And the parks!  The talents of Frederick Law Olmsted helped create  Congress Park which threads itself through the city. It provides a sanctuary in a metropolis like its larger sister, Central Park in Manhattan.  It also was a swampy low land before Central Park’s architect transformed it.

There’s also a lively art scene. Yaddo, an 400 acre artist colony,  has hosted thousands of well-known artists since the purchase of the land in 1881. It was in 1900 that venture capitalist Spencer Trask created the artist’s retreat as  a gift to his wife after the death of their children.

What alway seems to leave awe and a place in my memory are the homes and residences along Broadway and the residential areas that surround the business district. For one thing the street (Broadway) is wide with older trees shading the sidewalks.  The planning that went into this part of Broadway seemed to purposefully encourage interaction between neighbors. It would be hard not to say “Hey, Mr. Wilson”,  because walking the sidewalk places you practically in his front lawn. Dennis the Menace and the nostaglic family values which were pervasive in 60s television comes to mind as I stroll this wondeful street.

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