Cohoes, New York: A Ghost of a Mill Town

The city of Cohoes, in upstate New York.  Another former mill town, eking out a living who knows how.

Harmony Mills
Harmony Mills

Once, thousands of mill workers streamed in and out of Harmony Mills, its great brick walls looming over the cliff by the Cohoes Falls, where the Mohawk made its final plunge before meeting the Hudson River.

Cohoes Falls
The Cohoes Falls

“Last year, the number of jobs in West Virginia (1.4 percent) grew at seven times the rate they did upstate (0.2 percent), according to the state Business Council. In the 1990s, Appalachia’s population grew 9 percent, compared to less than 1 percent upstate. In 2002, the average annual personal income in Appalachia was $25,470, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the federal agency that promotes economic growth in the region. That was $1,390 more than the New York portion of Appalachia, state Business Council President Daniel Walsh said” (Jay Gallagher, “Spitzer’s ‘Appalachia’ Merits Exploring,” Poughkeepsie Journal 26 March 2006).

Upstate New York, called Appalachian by candidate for Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Upstate New York, cities of brick, with fading painted signs telling of bygone glories, bygone stores, bygone manufacturers.

Row Houses


A Computer

Upstate New York, where buying a lottery ticket is almost a sacred act.

Cohoes, New York, where the railroad station is now an Off Track Betting center.

Off Track Betting
An Off Track Betting Center

Cohoes, New York, where the Golden Krust, landmark bakery and restaurant just burned to the ground.

A Fireman at the Golden Krust
A Fireman at the Golden Krust

Wreckage of the Golden Krust
Wreckage of the Golden Krust

Who will bet on upstate New York?  Who will bet on Cohoes?

Jon Flanders Jon Flanders is a member and former president of IAM LL 1145 and a member of the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO.