The Stereoview as Historical Record
Because of the abundance of images taken over sixty years of time, the stereoviews of the Joki Collection capture the many changes the city and its people and buildings experienced. As tourism increased, venues were upgraded and expanded to meet the voracious demands of seasonal visitors. These changes are reflected in the images of the springs, the hotels and the park.
High Rock Spring
High Rock Spring is by far the most famous of the Saratoga Springs. For centuries, the Native Americans drank the waters from the naturally occurring spring, calling it the "Medicine Spring." In the 1820's the Clarke and White Spring Co. began commercially bottling the waters. The spring was purchased in 1865 by William McCaffery and Seymour Ainsworth who excavated the spring, moved it and retubed it to increase the flow and then erected an ornate pavilion and bottling plant. The spring and pavilion were sold in 1872 for $16,000 to William Fargo who operated the spring and bottling plant until 1904. The tufa formations are the result of years of mineral-laden waters flowing out of the spring.
Grand Union Hotel
In 1802, Saratoga Springs Founder Gideon Putnam built a 3 story structure that was 70 feet long on the road he named Broad Street. For several years until his death in 1811, he ran a tavern and inn on the property. His widow, Doanda, ran the highly successful Putnam's Tavern for several years with one of her sons, Washington. The Putnams expanded the Tavern by adding a ballroom, parlor and a dining room by 1813. By 1828, the Tavern became known as Union Hall.
Union Hall changed owners multiple times over the years and by 1856 under George H. Payne and George Putnam, a five story brick building was added as an annex to the now four story front structure. Gradually, it began to be called the Union Hotel.
The hotel was purchased by the Leland Brothers- Warren and Charles- in 1864 and was again expanded. By 1865, it had over 700 rooms and the Dining Room could accommodate 1000 guests at a sitting. An Opera House was also added.
In 1870, the facade was torn down and replaced with a five story brick front and a Mansard roof. The Hotel now had 824 rooms. The Lelands had financially overextended themselves, however, and the property was sold to Alexander T. Stewart in 1871.
By 1879, the Grand Union Hotel was at its zenith and was the size of a city block. Two thousand guests could be accomodated. The hotel operated under several other owners and ultimately a group of concerned citizens took it over in the 1940's. The advent of the automobile and World War II had brought the gradual demise of the Grand Union. The once magnificent Grand Union Hotel was razed in 1952.
Parlor of the Grand Union Hotel
Very few interior images exist in stereographic form as there was not sufficient lighting to expose the film. The parlor of the Grand Union Hotel has proven to be an exception. The floor to ceiling windows allowed in enough light that photographs were possible. These are images of the room decorations and furniture that changed over time.
Discovered in 1792 by Nicholas Gilman and his brother Continental Congressman John Taylor Gillman while on a hunting trip, the Congress Spring was originally tubed in 1802 by Saratoga Springs founder Gideon Putnam. The land for the park was purchased by Dr. John Clark in the 1820's and included the Congress, Columbian and several other springs. By 1823, pavilions had been built over both. The park was run privately for many years with a small paid admission- the water was free. During this time, Clark made many improvements including landscaping and drainage improvements.The earliest images of the Springs and the Park were lithographs drawn by Augustus Knollner in the 1840's and frequently copied by many later artists. Each artist appears to have added their own touch to the images-more horses of different colors, different clothing on the people, etc. These Sipperly images were probably done in the 1870's.
By the 1860's a Bandstand had been added to the park's attractions.
In 1875, significant improvements were made to the Park under the direction of famed architects F. L. Olmstead and J. Weidenmann. The grade of the grounds was improved and the Columbian and Congress Pavilions were rebuilt and attached with an arcade walkway connecting them. The Bandstand was also renovated and other attractions such as a deer lodge and rambling paths were added.
By 1884 the Columbian Spring had pretty much dried up but it was retubed in 1981 by the City of Saratoga Springs. A Grecian pavilion was built over it and it remains in the park today.
In 1904, the Congress Spring was sold at auction. In 1911, the City bought the property from private owners and purchased the adjacent Canfield property and the Congress Hall Hotel property to complete the park. By 1913, New york State had purchased the rights to all of the mineral springs. The Congress Spring was found to be polluted and in 1939 it was filled in with rocks.