History and Community In and Around New York's First Spa City
Ballston Spa, NY History
The first mineral spring at Ballston Spa was noted by surveyors in 1771 while New York was still part of the Kayaderosseras Patent that Queen Anne granted to 13 British subjects in 1701. Discovered a full five years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Ballston Spa was a popular destination for travelers seeking mineral water cures, but the village wouldn’t be permanently settled until after the Revolutionary War. Jonathan Peckham bought one of the first tracts of land in 1783 and built a log cabin, but the area really started to become a spa destination when Benajah Douglas built the first tavern in 1787 and then a hotel in 1792.
From a single log cabin in 1783 to the development of a large resort hotel called Sans Souci by 1803, the village grew quickly and attracted notable visitors - governors, presidents, and even former kings! Though most now think of Saratoga Springs as the summer destination for the who’s who of New York, in the 19th century Ballston Spa was the more popular destination for upper-class tourists who sought convivial company. These visitors earned the town the nickname “America’s First Watering Place”.
The spa’s prominence was not to last long, however, with Saratoga Springs quickly overtaking the popularity of its neighbor from the south with a clever marketing scheme - bottled mineral water. Paper mills brought prosperity back to the region for a while, then other industries in turn, but deindustrialization again hurt the village economy during the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Ballston Spa is enjoying a renaissance as a quiet, picturesque escape from the busier Capital Region cities, Albany and Saratoga Springs. The village attracts residents who want a friendly small town atmosphere and tourists who want quality shopping and dining without the crowds.
Malta, NY History
Around the time that visitors were roughing it a few miles away at the Old Iron Spring in Ballston Spa, early settlers were forming what is now the town of Malta, NY. Though records indicate that the earliest settlers were Loyalists who had to abandon their property after the Revolutionary War, the town was settled by families named Hunter, Andrews, and Dunning and later incorporated in 1802.
Mostly an agricultural community, Malta likely got its name from its malt brewery. Like its neighbor, Ballston Spa, Malta also had several mills, inns, and hotels. The town grew to serve a self-sufficient rural community and did not experience the same commercial growth of other Saratoga County towns located along the canalways.
Ballston Spa & Malta Today
Ballston Spa and Malta are both seeing a resurgence in the early 21st century as families choose their relatively quiet streets for the feel of urban living without all the rush of living in Albany or expense of living in Saratoga.
Development and Industry
Malta, in particular, has been experiencing a lot of new development following the opening of the Luther Forest Technology Campus in 2009. With global companies like Samsung, IBM, and Globalfoundries choosing to locate FABs at the Malta campus, many high-paying tech jobs have entered the community, bringing with them additional jobs in construction and hospitality.
The Ballston Spa Central School District
Serving both Malta and Ballston Spa, the Ballston Spa Central School District ranks well nationally for academics and boasts a full slate of extracurricular activities, from the fine arts to football, from musical theater to golf.
With thriving summer Farmer’s Markets, the Saratoga County Fairgrounds, numerous restaurants, and even a drive-in movie theater, Ballston Spa and Malta are active communities with events that will appeal to both locals and visitors.
Learn more about events in and around Ballston Spa and Malta.