Cohoes, New York

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Cohoes, NY 12047

Cohoes (pronounced /kəˈhoʊs/, -HOHS) is an incorporated city located at the northeast corner of Albany County in the US state of New York. It is called the "Spindle City" because of the importance of textile production to its growth. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 15,521. The name was believed to have arisen from a Mohawk expression, "Ga-ha-oose", referring to the Cohoes Falls and meaning "Place of the Falling Canoe," an interpretation originated by Horatio Gates Spafford in his 1823 publication "A Gazetteer of the State of New York". Later historians posited that the name is derived from the Algonquin "Cohos," which is a place name based on a word meaning "Pine tree."[2][3]



The majority of the city was once part of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, a Dutch colonial feudal system; however the land north of a line crossing the Cohoes Falls (today Manor Avenue) was outside of the Manor and was owned by the Van Olohde family between 1725 and 1750.[4] Rensselaerswyck was established by Killiaen Van Rensselaer, the patroon and a Dutch merchant. In 1632 he had an agent of his pace off an enormous triangle-shaped area around the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, from the Peebles Island northwest to the Cohoes Falls and south to today's Watervliet;[5] this area was the core of the future city of Cohoes. Starting in the 1690s the Patroon began to issue leases for the area of Cohoes, though he did reserve for himself a strip below the Cohoes Falls for the future site of mills.[6]

Though the area wasn't immediately heavily settled it was well-known for many reasons. The main was geographic, with the Cohoes Falls being the centerpiece. One of the earliest descriptions of the falls was in 1642 by Johannes Megapolensis, the first dominie (Reverend) of Beverwyck. Another early description was in 1656 by Adriaen van der Donck in his Description of New Netherland.[4] In the early-to-mid 17th century a whale had found itself stranded in the Mohawk River on an island just below the Cohoes Falls, it was impossible for the Dutch settlers of the area to remove the carcass and as it rotted the river became slick for three weeks from the rotting carcass and one commented that "the air was infected with its stench... perceptible for two miles to leeward"; around 1646 this island came to be known as Whale Island due to this occurrence.[5]

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