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Glens Falls History

Prior to the settlement of this region was originally called "Chepontuc" (Iroquois for 'difficult place to get around") and referred some as "Great Carrying Place" and then renamed "The Corners" by European-American settlers.  In 1766, Glens Falls was named by the settlers as Wing's Falls for their mighty waterfalls that power the first sawmills and grist mills.   Abraham Wing, a Quaker settler, built those first mills and settled the area the following summer of 1763 with his family.   It is said that Abraham lost the naming rights to the community at a poker game.  The winner was Col. John Glenn Jr. 

At that time, the Hudson River was the hub of this community and it became an industrial crossroads of the region.  The area know as the "Four Corners" was thriving with merchants, craftsmen, ministers, cabinet makers, shoemakers, wagon makers, blacksmiths, lawyers and doctors.    The river served as a super highway with the transport for logs cut in the northern forest of the Adirondacks.   The completion of the Feeder Canal in 1824 in 1825, provide Glens Falls as a marketplace to supply Albany and NYC.   Glens Falls was sending lumber, lime, newsprint, leather and tanned hides.   The canal was narrower, and it required smaller canal boats to connect to the Hudson, and was the only way to access Fort Edward region.  The falls at Baker Falls (86') and Glens Falls (40') could not be traversed.   The local industry created wealth to many and that wealth is still show cased in the city's historical homes.

Glens Falls was incorporated in 1839 as a village.  Seventy years later in 190), it became a city by Charles Evans Hughes, the 36th governor of New York State and native son of Glens Falls.    Charles' career started as lawyer with a busy practice, then the Governor of New York, then twice on the US Supreme Court:  once as Associate Justice and the later Chief Justice.  He was the Secretary of State under President Warren Harding.  In 1961 Charles ran for President against Woodrow Wilson, losing by only 14 electoral votes.

Glens Falls was seen as the apple of the region's eye, having some of the bet products from Joubert & White buckboards (best in the country),  black marble products, bicycles, early automobiles, fine gloves, men's shirts and ladies dresses.  Glens Falls received national attention by "Look" magazine in 1944 and was named as "Hometown USA".  Thereafter Glens Falls adopted the concept of Hometown USA. and during the urban renewal era of the 1960's and 70's, Glens Falls focused on the Kamyr Office Complexes, senior citizen high-rises, and the Civic Center Plaza.   With controversy, the Glens Falls Civic Center opened in 1978 and quickly became the hockey and entertainment center of the area.  In the days leading up to the Lake Placid Olympics, the torch passed through Glens Falls.

Another local man, John Alden Dix was elected 38th governor of New York in 1911.  After two years in terms, the deficit of $1.5M became a surplus of $4M in the treasury.  Governor Dix improved the insurance laws, and promoted agricultural education.   During his first year of office, NY has its worst industrial disaster, the "Triangle Shirtwaist Fire" where 146 workers died because the owners of the sweatshop locked the exit doors and when fire broke out they couldn't escape.   The Governor was responsible for the laws that offer protection to workers and improved conditions in factories.

Other prominent names include Richard Dean who specialized in regional photography that you see on many tourist post cards.  Dean was the one who coined Lake George as the "Queen of American Lakes."   Milton Crandell, a local native and a prolific architect, hand designed the Glens Falls Hospital, the Ridge Street Firehouse, Westmount Sanatorium, and many local commercial buildings and schools. 

Other history tidbits noteworthy are that Glens Falls has two historic districts listed on the National Register of Historical Places.  The Fredella Avenue historic district includes a serious of unique concrete block structures.  The Three Squares Historic District comprises the majority of the Central Business District in additional with individual structures.