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Nestled in the foothills of the scenic Adirondack Mountains, historic Saratoga Springs is one of the crown jewels of the American Northeast. The city's early fame arose from its numerous natural springs, each one producing its own distinctive healthful waters. Founding father Gideon Putnam himself built two renowned hotels to accommodate visitors seeking their legendary benefits and healing powers. One of his properties, the Grand Union, was the largest hotel in the world in its time.
But there were even greater things to come. On Aug. 3, 1863 casino operator John Morrissey sponsored the first thoroughbred racing card at Saratoga's standardbred track on Union Avenue (the Oklahoma Training Track is located there now). The following year the existing track was opened. It proved to be a turning point in the history of Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga Race Course quickly became one of the premiere sporting and vacation destinations in the nation, and that's never been more true than today. The early meets were only four days long, but they now run over six weeks, from late July until Labor Day. The finest horses, jockeys, trainers and owners in the world congregate for some of the most exciting and entertaining sports action in America. And while the track may be the oldest continuously operating venue of its kind in the country, and The Meet the nation's longest-running continuous sporting event, each summer feels like new.
The Saratoga Raceway and Casino, a standard bred harness track and casino open year-round, is just a stone's throw from the thoroughbred course. The Raceway features over 175 racing days a year from March through mid-December, plus daily off-track simulcast wagering on horse racing action across the country. The Casino boasts three restaurants ranging from convenient casual buffet to stellar fine dining, over 1,700 slots and exciting new video gaming tables, and the popular Vapor Night Club.
Downtown Saratoga Springs is also flourishing. The city proudly claims one of the highest concentrations of bars, clubs and restaurants in all of New York state, featuring the astounding range of cuisines and experiences one would expect to find only in our biggest metropolitan areas. It's been a tradition in Saratoga Springs from the beginning; Gideon Putnam's first hotel restaurant was Saratoga County's place to see and be seen in the early 19th Century.
The throbbing Saratoga nightlife isn't the whole story, though. The downtown shopping district, centered on beautiful Broadway, has been named one of America's greatest Main Streets by Travel and Leisure magazine. And a burst of development, focused on creating an ultramodern walkable urban core, has led to the current availability of some of the finest, most contemporary, yet most welcoming properties in upstate New York.
The beauty and charm of Saratoga Springs isn't limited to downtown, though. In nearby Schuylerville, the National Park Service has established the Saratoga National Historical Park to commemorate the Revolutionary War's pivotal Battle of Saratoga and serve as a frequent venue for fun family events, especially during the warm weather months. The Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, located in Saratoga Spa State Park and named in honor of the town's founding pioneer, is widely noted for its outstanding service and top-of-the-line amenities, including the famous Roosevelt Baths. Adjacent to the Gideon Putnam is one of the best and most affordable 18-hole golf courses in an area studded with them, as well as an outstanding nine-hole executive course suitable for a quick getaway.
Yet the best feature of the park may be the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). The summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, SPAC also hosts ballet, Opera Saratoga, numerous special events in the Little Theater and on the facility's grounds, and over 20 pop and rock concerts per year, including some of the biggest acts in music today. SPAC also hosts an annual weekend jazz festival featuring the best classic and contemporary jazz performers on three stages, and the venue is a favorite destination for all-day touring festivals in a variety of genres.
Highly regarded Skidmore College, a four-year liberal arts school, adds immeasurably to the city's cultural life with the Arthur Zankel Music Center and Tang Teaching Museum. The annual influx of students brings an unmistakable youth and vibrancy to Saratoga's thriving downtown scene. And for a respite from all the action, the famed gardens of Yaddo offer a stunning opportunity for a quiet, romantic walk.
Business is booming, too. Saratoga is home to QuadGraphics, the offset printers responsible for Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, People magazine and others. Stewart's Shops, a regional ice cream and convenience store chain with over 300 locations, is also based in town. And just south of Saratoga, in the neighboring town of Malta, GlobalFoundries -- the world's second largest computer chip maker -- has built a massive plant in the Luther Forest Technology Campus. The proximity of Saratoga Springs to one of the cornerstones of the Capital District's Tech Valley initiative has been a boon to residents and businesses alike.
Despite the staggering economic growth of recent years, the heart of Saratoga Springs remains its tradition of tourism and residential development. Nearby Saratoga Lake, right down Union Avenue from the track, is one of the most popular summer destinations in the region and features numerous valuable and enticing waterfront properties for those looking for either a permanent or seasonal residence.
To the north, easily accessible ski resorts offer boundless opportunities for winter fun. The beautiful and scenic Adirondacks promise outdoor activities in every season. And with a highly developed road net centered on I-87 (known as the Northway) it's easy to reach all of it. There is also an extensive system of public transportation, including Amtrak -- not to mention the scenic Saratoga and North Creek Railway for sightseeing excursions. Albany International Airport is also a mere 30 minutes away, making business and vacation travel easy. For private aircraft, Saratoga County Airport is located just on the outskirts of town.
Saratoga Springs has been widely acclaimed as the home of health, history and horses, and for good reason. The famous natural springs and spas have been contributing to our well-being literally for centuries. The city is surrounded by sites simply breathing history. And the extraordinary thoroughbred track is one of the premier sports venues in the United States. Add in all the other attributes of both the immediate area and the region as a whole and it's clear Saratoga Springs richly deserves its rapidly-growing reputation as one of the finest small cities in America.
At Select Sotheby's International Realty, our mission is to unite extraordinary homes with extraordinary lives in this remarkable place. We believe our combination of experience, acumen and attention to detail affords buyers and sellers alike the best opportunity available to reach their goals and realize their dreams. We are honored to serve our community and are dedicated to providing the best service imaginable to our clients. Contact us today.