Down in the Valley: Exploring the Gut

Saratoga Springs was made up of many ethnic districts. One of the most interesting is known as “The Gut” or “The Valley”, an area east of Broadway. This was home to many multi-ethnic working-class family businesses and was also important in the evolution of the Jewish community for many years. Learn about this unique neighborhood through the stories about the people who lived and worked there for more than two centuries. This delightful armchair tour is presented by local tour  guide, Ellen Steinberger on May 8, 2014.

This event takes place at noon in the Dutcher Community room of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Coffee and tea are provided. The Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series is made possible by a partnership of the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center and the Saratoga Springs Public Library.


Patterson Spring photo courtesy of the Saratoga Springs History Museum

Walking Tours slated to begin July 7th

The Saratoga Springs Visitor Center will kickoff their walking tour season Monday, July 7th through Labor Day with a tour of Congress Park entitled “History, Legends, Lore & More”. Tours begin daily at 10:30a.m. rain or shine departing from the Visitor Center.
Tickets are $5 for adults and children under 12 are free. The Visitor Center located at 297 Broadway, directly across from Congress Park. Please call 587-3241 for questions about our tours or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer Tour Guide or email .



12 Years A Slave Makes Its Mark Again!


In 1853 history was made when Solomon Northup’s story, Twelve Years a Slave was first published.  It is considered by many to be the most detailed account of the institution of slavery on record .  Over 150 years later, once again,  this story has made history — winning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar for the best motion picture of 2014.

Our Heritage Area is proud to have as part of  its vast historical significance, the story of Solomon Northup.    Mr. Northup came to Saratoga Springs from nearby Washington County because of the possibility of a more lucrative lifestyle working in our already-famous resort industry.   Although it is of no source of pride to have had the deception occur here, pride may be taken in the fact that Cephas Parker, a Saratoga Springs businessman took the steps necessary to help in Solomon’s return.

For nearly two decades, local resident Renee Moore and the staff of our visitor center have worked to preserve and promote the importance of  Solomon Northup’s story as a freeman, a local citizen and the heroic survivor of slavery.

Chewitel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, with his wife, Anne Hampton portrayed by Kelsey Scott, and children Margaret and Alonzo portrayed by Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Zeigler shown in a Saratoga Springs scene from the film.





March 13th Brown Bag Lunch Lecture

Join librarian Dan Hubs and Irish fiddler Frank Orsini for a biographical survey of the life of John Morrissey. Born in poverty in Ireland, Morrissey transcended his humble beginnings to become a champion boxer, congressman and partial owner of the Saratoga Race Course. In honor of St. Patrick’s day, traditional Irish music will accompany the presentation.

Photo courtesy of the Saratoga Springs History Museum

Join us for First Night Saratoga 2014!


C.C. Vagadonds at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 PM

Dour Irving Project at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 PM

 Fireworks at midnight!





Bring in the New Year with us!

Holiday Community Outreach

Calling all mittens! The Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center is sponsoring its annual “Happy Hands Mitten Tree” program, through December 31st. Donations can be placed on the Happy Hands Mitten Tree in the Visitor Center at 297 Broadway Monday-Saturday from 9:00-5:00 and until 11:00 PM during First Night Saratoga.

Those in need of warm gear are invited to come into the Visitor Center during the holiday season through the month of December.

Any warm gear is greatly appreciated – scarves, gloves, hats, muffs- anything to keep away the chill of winter! Individuals, organizations and youth groups are invited to contribute mittens or gloves to the tree. Items can be purchased or handmade, and all sizes, colors and styles are welcome!

Those in need of warm gear are invited to come into the Visitor Center during the holiday season through the month of December. All remaining items will be donated to local charities for distribution throughout the winter months.

For people who are looking for a way to share during the holiday season, adding a pair of mittens to the “Happy Hands Tree” is a small way to make a big impact in someone’s life! Thank you…warm wishes for a Happy Holiday!

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series: Piping Rock Arson

Postcard courtesy of the Saratoga Room, Saratoga Springs Public Library

On the night of August 16, 1954, the infamous Piping Rock Casino burned to the ground in a “mysterious” arson still baffling to this day–but is it unsolved? Owned by the mob fronting for Long Island society, Piping Rock was closed in 1951 by the US Senate crackdown on organized crime and gambling. Seized for back taxes, sold at auction several years later, its new owner did not insure it. Why was this uninsured building torched? Why were the mafia, the Saratoga political machine, and North Shore Long Island socialites all involved int he Piping Rock Casino? These and other questions now have answers. To learn more about this local enigma, come hear author Joe Cutshall-King’s account of “The Piping Rock Arson” at noon on September 12, 2013 in the Dutcher Community Room of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. This free event is sponsored by the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center and The Saratoga Springs Public Library. Coffee and tea are provided.

Tour Guide Volunteers Needed!

The Visitors Center is currently seeking Tour Guides for our exciting 2013 season which begins the second week of July through Labor Day.  Our “History, Legends, Lore & More” tour of Congress Park encompasses the park’s history, springs, statuary, fountains, landscaping & restored carousel.  It is a fun way to meet tourists from all over the world and make new friends.

We are seeking volunteers who can guide our daily tours at 10:30am for 90 minutes.  We will be offering a training session on Monday, June 17th  for those interested in becoming Guides.  For more information contact the Visitor’s Center at (518)587-3241 or email:

June 13th Brown Bag Lunch Lecture, “Armchair Tour of Saratoga Trunk”

On June 13th, the final installment of the 2013 Spring Series of the Brown Bag Lunch Program will focus on the popular novel, hit movie, and musical, Saratoga Trunk, by Edna Ferber, newspaper woman, novelist, playwright and screenwriter. One of the best-selling female authors of the 20th century, Ferber’s novels and plays have been adapted into two dozen movies, including Giant, Ice Palace, Stage Door, So Big, Showboat, and of course, Saratoga Trunk.

After visiting Saratoga Springs in the late 1930s, Ferber commented on the lack of romantic material from the late Victorian Era about Saratoga Springs. She rectified that when she wrote Saratoga Trunk. Heritage Area Visitors Center volunteer and docent for this tour, Saratoga Springs native Kathy Totten will explore the connection between this timeless classic and all the glitz, glamour, and excitement that took place in Saratoga Springs in the 1880s. Totten’s lecture will highlight the places in Saratoga Springs that are mentioned in the book and movie that the main characters visited. On display will be copies of communications from the University of Southern California Film School, which provided information from the Warner Brothers Archives, relating to the film.


This program is free and open to the public and begins promptly at noon. Tea and coffee are provided. For more information please contact the Visitor Center at 518-587-3241.