Troy, New York: According to my grandmother, a murder happens there every day.
I smile and nod because it's important not to confuse the older generation with facts. But, let's hope she can get over her fear of Troy before my wedding.
Troy is where my heart is.
New York was controlled by the Dutch and then the English, and portions of it were run by the French. As a result, we have some very strange names for our cities and towns.
Troy isn't that bad, but it is in Rensselaer County, just down the road from Schenectady. Both are mouthfuls for outsiders.
Up the road from Albany, the New York capital, Troy is just off the Thruway, but it's far enough away for it to have its own identity.
Many people have feared Troy for quite some time. Upstate New York is filled with small towns, acres of farmland with free-roaming cows and chickens and conservative values as solid as the white picket fences around their yards. Meanwhile Troy, the Collar City, boomed during the Industrial Era.
It invited people to move up from the City to come live, work and thrive. With higher populations comes higher crime; we can't argue with statistics.
In recent years, Troy has been blessed with an amazing initiative to restore the small city to its original beauty.
The history is being celebrated, local businesses are coming into town (and doing well), and festivals and events are filling up the weekend calendar in the summer.
Crime has dropped, and the pride has reached an all-time high.
Here are some of the best reasons why Troy is a historical, cultural hub that deserves a second chance at your love:
Samuel Wilson (aka Uncle Sam). You probably never learned about Samuel Wilson in your history classes. Wilson is known by some as an important in the War of 1812.
He helped give rations to the soon-to-be American soldiers, and he is also considered the inspiration for Uncle Sam.
Uncle Sam, on the other hand, is a visual embodiment of the American government and the freedoms surrounding being a proud American.
Troy is so proud of Uncle Sam (maybe an original resident), that there are dozens of life-sized statues, which local artists decorated, hanging on street corners.
Santa Claus. This is where the children start to yell, “No! Santa lives on the North Pole!” That may be true, but where was Santa born, eh? The first mention of Santa, or St. Nicholas, was posted in the Troy Sentinel in 1823.
A few years later, he was mentioned again in a nearly identical article (by a different author) in Poughkeepsie.
Scandal and controversy have surrounded the two families of two poets claiming ownership to the original poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” or, “'Twas the Night Before Christmas,” for more 100 years.
Regardless of who wrote it first, it was originally published in Troy, making Troy the birthplace of our beloved Santa Claus.
Students. Troy is home to two great colleges: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Russell Sage College.
RPI brings an eclectic assortment of creatives and prospective engineers from around the world, while Russell Sage, a female college, balances the gender scale.
The diversity of students makes Troy a mini melting pot right in the capital region, and it allows for a young culture to thrive.
Troylets. Most of the people living in Troy are actually transplants. They're either students who stuck around, history buffs or crunchy folk who like the sustainability.
But, people don't like to think about the Troylets.
Troylets, sometimes a derogatory term, are the residents of Troy who are not transplants.
They add excitement to the nightlife, often with guns or knives, and go places they aren't supposed to.
Think of them as the raw onion in your salad. Even though on their own, they have a bit of a bite, they add a necessary flavor component to the overall experience.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. RPI is special because it is the oldest school in the nation dedicated to technology and engineering.
Not only is it a beyond beautiful campus, but students from around the world have the opportunity to work with award-winning professors. Many even go on to open their own companies.
Plus, RPI has some really interesting extracurriculars, like the Unicycling and Juggling Club (who didn't want to go to circus camp as a kid?), Abada-Capoeira (it's like martial arts plus dancing) and an EcoPrincess Festival where kids learn about the environment from iconic princesses (who better to teach about water pollution than a mermaid?).
Troy Waterfront Market. Each Saturday, the streets just off the Hudson River are blocked off, and the vendors come out for the weekly farmer's market.
Potentially the largest outdoor market in the Capital Region, there's the usual line of crafters, local produce vendors, cold-pressed juice and food trucks (including Slidin' Dirty, the best food truck).
Local stores will also open their doors and invite you in for samples or specials.
Spilli'n the Beans. Just one of the coffee shops downtown, Spilli'n is a great place to meet up with friends for a drink or breakfast (served all day), get off campus for some fresh air or work on a paper with a new perspective.
Each day has a new list of coffee specials, so you can always try something different.
Similar to some chain coffee shops, the clerk will ask for your name when you place your order and call it out when it's ready.
But, unlike those other coffee shops, the clerk will remember your name your second time in.
Snowman's Ice Cream. Take a short drive (don't walk because The Troylets are out) into the residential area, and you'll find Snowman's Ice Cream. It's family-run ice cream shop from the '50s that still makes its own ice cream.
Brown's Brewing Co. Upstate New York is the Napa Valley of microbreweries and beer, and Troy is no exception. Since 1993, Brown's Brewing Company has been pumping out locally sourced, house made beers with seasonal varieties and distributing it to the masses.
Not only does the brewery provide a great boost to the economy, but locals can enjoy the craft beers with their pub food. A great place to relax, Brown's is warm and welcoming to all people.
Troy Night Out. A monthly festival of sorts, Troy Night Out draws in students from both colleges and locals from the surrounding areas.
The last Friday of every month, local businesses stay open for a night of fun and excitement, offering discounts, prizes and live music.
Each TNO has a theme, and the local shops will decorate their storefronts, hold contests and even give special deals.
Ilium Parkour. Contrary to popular belief, parkour is not jumping from a rooftop yelling, “Hardcore parkour!”
It is an athletic art following the principle of finding the shortest way from point A to point B.
Ilium, which is also the Latin word for Troy, is a group of traceurs who use the streets of Troy as their training ground.
They teach workshops for local youth, and they are also a training group for many of the competitors on the hit television show, “American Ninja Warrior.”
Seriously, Brian Wilczewski (a repeat contestant on the show), is an RPI alum and Ilium Founder.
Sustainable Living. Even though we live in a YOLO culture and often don't take responsibility for our actions, the people of Troy understand our futures rely on thinking globally and acting locally.
The Hudson River hasn't been swum in years, and fishers are advised not to eat their catches. Why? More importantly, how can we fix it?
Companies do their best to network with local businesses and share initiatives for community members.
Restaurants outsource food from local farms, businesses recycle and compost and incentives are given to keep people shopping local.