Saratoga Springs

“Life at the springs is a perpetual festival.” When this statement appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1859, Saratoga Springs was the queen of American resorts. It had nearly fifty hotels and boarding houses and was fortuitously situated near a transportation network of steamships and railroads. The town boasted tree-lined streets and parks illuminated with gas lamps. It had theaters, fancy shops, and a circular railroad amusement ride. Most prominently, Saratoga had mineral springs.

When Philip Schuyler cut a path from his house on the Hudson River to High Rock Spring in 1783, he opened Saratoga Springs to visitors. Twenty years later, Connecticut native Gideon Putnam built the first tavern in town and began laying out streets and diverting springs through ornate fountains. As early as 1822, the water from Congress Springs was bottled and sold around the world. Drinking the mineral waters remained a favored activity at Saratoga Springs into the twentieth century and bottled Saratoga water still holds a prominent place on grocery shelves today.

In 1872, a spring of bubbly water was discovered on a farm in Saratoga Springs. Later in the century, a company named Saratoga Vichy began bottling and selling the naturally effervescent water. Saratoga Vichy won a gold medal at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and Scotch and Saratoga Vichy became a favored drink—the water’s natural effervescence was sworn never to cause a hangover.


Magnifying Glass
Saratoga Vichy Water Six Pack
c. 1960
Paper, ink, glass, and water
Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of June Price, 2012.2.7
Magnifying Glass
Congress Spring, Saratoga, N.Y.
Printed by Hatch & Co., New York City
c. 1870
Chromolithograph on paper
Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Fleet Boston Financial Corporation, 2000.13.5