is a county
in the U.S. state
of New York
. As of the 2000 census
, the population was 152,538. Its name is in honor of the family of Killiaen Van Rensselaer
, the original Dutch
owner of the land in the area. Its county seat
. It is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area
The county was a part of Rensselaerwyck, an immense land holding purchased by Kiliaen van Rensselaer from the Mohawk and Mohican Indians, starting in 1630.
''For the history of Rensselaer County prior to 1791, see Albany County, New York
In 1791, Rensselaer County (as well as Saratoga County) was split off from Albany County.
Rensselaer County is in the eastern part of New York State. The eastern boundary of Rensselaer County runs along the New York
and New York
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 665 square miles (1,723 km²), of which, 654 square miles (1,694 km²) of it is land and 11 square miles (30 km²) of it (1.72%) is water.
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, ) 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.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 152,538 people, 59,894 households, and 39,050 families residing in the county. The population density
was 233 people per square mile (90/km²). There were 66,120 housing units at an average density of 101 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.13% White
, 4.69% 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. 2.11% of the population were Hispanic
of any race. 22.3% were of Irish
, 14.7% Italian
, 12.8% German
, 7.5% English
, 6.2% French
and 5.3% American
ancestry according to Census 2000
. 93.4% spoke English
and 2.0% Spanish
as their first language.
There were 59,894 households out of which 31.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.80% 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 Politcs
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
. She is one of only four female county executives in New York State. Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 19 members representing 16 different communities, separated into six districts. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (13 Republicans and 6 Democrats):
District 1, Troy:
Neil J. Kelleher, Chairman (R)
Robert Mirch, Majority Leader (C)
Laura Bauer (R)
James Brearton (R)
Peter Grimm (D)
Nancy McHugh (R)
District 2, North Greenbush, East Greenbush, and Poestenkill:
Ginny O'Brien, Minority Leader (D)
Keith Hammond, Deputy Minority Leader (D)
W. Kenneth Harrington (D)
Brian Zweig (D)
District 3, Brunswick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown:
Thomas Walsh, Vice Chairman (R)
Ken Salisbury, Vice Chairman/Finance (R)
Kenneth Harrington (R)
District 4, Schodack, Sand Lake, and Nassau:
Flora Fasoldt (D)
Martin Reid (R)
Alex Shannon (R)
District 5, Hoosick, Berlin, Stephentown, & Petersburgh:
Stanley Brownell (R)
Lester Goodermote (R)
District 6, Rensselaer:
Mike Stammel (R)
Cities, towns, villages, and other locations
- => label in parentheses is official designation.