Wednesday, March 14, 2012

About Warren County, NY

Warren County is located in the Southern Adirondack Region of New York State.   It has a population of approximately 65,000, mainly concentrated in the City of Glens Falls, located in the southernmost part of the county, and the surrounding Town of Queensbury.   On the eastern side of the county is 32 mile long Lake George, one of the scenic wonders of the eastern United States, renowned for its crystal clear waters and towering mountains rising from its shores.   Lake George is a popular summer resort, with boating, sailing, swimming and sightseeing.   The Hudson River inscribes the southern boundary of the county.

The Warren County area and the Lake George corridor was one of the principal battlegrounds of both the colonial wars fought between Britain and France for the control of North America, and also of the American Revolutionary War.   Fort William Henry, site of a major French victory over British and American colonial forces and a famous massacre, was excavated and reconstructed in the 1950s.  It was made famous by the James Fenimore Cooper story,  Last Of The Mohicans, later made into a major motion picture.

The area of the present day Warren County saw its first permanent European settlement in 1765-1766 when a group of Quakers led by Abraham Wing settled on the large falls on the Hudson River, known to the native Haudenosaunee or Iroquois and Mohican Mohawk nations as Chepontuc, "the great carrying place."  Named Wings Falls, the settlement was temporarily abandoned due to the French advance, then resettled after the war.   (Warren County contains the southernmost terminus of New France.)   The settlement was later renamed Glens Falls, as legend would have it, to honor a gambling debt.

Warren County has a highly diversified economy, with tourism, medical devices and technology companies, forest products, paper making and tools, banking, retailing and other services prominently featured.

SUNY Adirondack, formerly Adirondack Community College, is located just north of the City of Glens Falls in the Town of Queensbury.  It has over two thousand students on an unusually attractive campus, and it in the process of acquiring its first student residential facilities, operated by the college's Student-Faculty Association.

Demographically, culturally, socially and politically, Warren County is extremely similar to areas of neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire, and indeed, the City of Glens Falls could be regarded as the western most New England city.   At one time, the City of Glens Falls, which at the time held over half the population of the county, was heavily Democratic due in part to the large number of union members of the many industries that existed in the city at that time: paper making, machine tools, foundries, textiles, chemicals, dyes, garments, banking and insurance.

During those years, Vermont to the east was much more Republican and conservative.   Over the last forty years, particularly since the elections of a series of Democratic Vermont Governors, beginning with Philip H. Hoff in 1963, and through the Governorships of Madeline Kunin and especially Howard Dean, Vermont had become far more Democratic than Warren County, with Warren County becoming more Republican.   This Republican trend was assisted by a typical move to the suburbs of Queensbury that Glens Falls shared with many cites across the nation.  However, in recent years, Warren County has become increasingly Democratic, with a Democratic council and administration in Glens Falls, and a growing number of Democratic office holders upcounty.  The Town of Queensbury, like many suburbs across the nation, is trending Democratic.

National and statewide Democratic candidates have fared very well in Warren County in recent years, including Kirsten Gillibrand, first as a Representative and then as a Senator, but also Bill and Hillary Clinton,  Elliot Spitzer, Chuck Schumer and Andrew Cuomo have all been strong vote getters in Warren County.  (Senator Gillibrand's first political appearance in the 20th Congressional District was in Glens Falls in April 2005 at a Glens Falls DFA meeting.)  When Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed by Governor Patterson to the United States Senate, the special election to fill her seat was won by Democrat Scott Murphy of Glens Falls.

In every real sense, Warren County should be like Vermont which it so resembles, and share its progressive but pragmatic political culture.   The continuing success of local Democrats in recent strongly indicates that Glens Falls is moving in the same "true blue" direction as Vermont, just a few years behind, but catching up fast.

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