Rensselaer County, New York

For the city of the same name, see Rensselaer, New York.
Rensselaer County, New York

Rensselaer County Courthouse


Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County
Location in the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded 1791
Named for Kiliaen van Rensselaer
Seat Troy
Largest city Troy
  Total 665 sq mi (1,722 km2)
  Land 652 sq mi (1,689 km2)
  Water 13 sq mi (34 km2), 1.9%
  (2010) 159,429
  Density 244/sq mi (94/km²)
Congressional districts 19th, 20th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Coordinates: 42°41′N 73°17′W / 42.683°N 73.283°W / 42.683; -73.283

Rensselaer County /rɛnsəˈlɪər/ is a county in the state of New York, in the United States of America. As of the 2010 census, the population was 159,429.[1] Its county seat is Troy.[2] The county is named in honor of the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owner of the land in the area.

Rensselaer County is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Map of Rensselaer County in 1829

The area that is now Rensselaer County was inhabited by the Algonquian-speaking Mohican Indian tribe at the time of European encounter. Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a Dutch jeweler and merchant, purchased the area in 1630 and incorporated it in his patroonship Rensselaerswyck. (It was part of the Dutch colony New Netherland).[3]

The land passed into English rule in 1664; the Dutch regained control in 1673, but the English took it back in 1674. Until 1776, the year of American independence, the county was under English or British control.[4] The county was not organized as a legal entity until after the Revolution in 1791, when it was created from an area that was originally part of the very large Albany County.

In 1807, in a county re-organization, the rural sections of Troy were set off as Towns, and the city was incorporated. The two towns created were Brunswick (named for Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Braunschweig-Lüneburg) and Grafton (named for Henry FitzRoy, 5th Duke of Grafton). A third town, Philipstown, was set off in 1806. In 1808 it was renamed Nassau after the duke of that area.


A farm in Brunswick

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 665 square miles (1,720 km2), of which 652 square miles (1,690 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (1.9%) is water.[5]

Rensselaer County is in the eastern part of New York State. The eastern boundary of Rensselaer County runs along the New YorkVermont and New YorkMassachusetts borders.

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 population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015160,266[6]0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[11] of 2010, there were 161,129 people, 62,694 households, and 39,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 233 people per square mile (90/km²). There were 69,120 housing units at an average density of 109 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 88.73% White, 7.14% 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. 5.01% 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, 5.3% American and 2.3% Puerto Rican ancestry according to Census 2010. 95.4% spoke English and 2.7% Spanish as their first language.

There were 61,094 households out of which 33.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.80% 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
Presidential elections results
Year Democrats Republicans
2016 45.5% 30,039 48.4% 31,933
2012 55.0% 37,408 42.8% 29,113
1984 37.8% 26,755 61.9% 43,892

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. Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 20 members representing 17 different communities, separated into six districts. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (11 Republicans, 5 Democrats and 4 Conservatives that caucus with the Republicans):

District 1 – Troy:

District 2 – North Greenbush, East Greenbush, and Poestenkill:

District 3 – Brunswick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown:

District 4 – Schodack, Sand Lake, and Nassau:

District 5 – Hoosick Falls, Hoosick, Grafton, Berlin, Stephentown, & Petersburgh:

District 6 – Rensselaer:

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 –


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.[13]

District BOCES[14][15] 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


Map of towns, cities and villages within Rensselaer County




Census-designated places


See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. "Freedoms, as Given by the Council of the Nineteen of the Chartered West India Company to All those who Want to Establish a Colony in New Netherland". World Digital Library. 1630. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  4. The Kingdom of England existed until the Acts of Union 1707, when Scotland and England (including Wales) came together to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
  5. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  6. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  7. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  8. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  9. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  10. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. Albany Politics blog – Capital Region – Rensselaer – Saratoga – Schenectady – Albany County – NY – – Local politics » New legislator seated
  13. Rensselaer County School Districts. Capital District Regional Planning Commission. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  14. Questar III Component School Districts. Questar III. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  15. Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES Component Districts. Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES. Retrieved 14 October 2008.

Further reading

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