Broadway from the ashes

A new building rises on the site of Saratoga's worst fire

In the fall of 2012, ground was broken on Broadway for a new building on a site that had been vacant for 55 years. Twice the commercial buildings on the site have been destroyed by massive fires, only to be replaced the second time by a parking lot. What Saratoga lost is finally being replaced by a worthy successor, a building that will house Northshire Books and other retailers on the first floor, with offices and apartments on the upper floors—welcome additions to the streetscape.

Our business district grew from two ends towards the middle. The first businesses were clustered around High Rock Spring on the north and Congress Spring on the south. By the time the first railroad depot appeared at the corner of Broadway and Division Street in 1832, much of our present downtown was filled with shops, mostly in two- and three-story wood or brick buildings.

The middle of the block between Caroline Street and Gardner’s Lane may have been developed last. A resident who arrived in 1831 recalled: “The street on the east side was here much lower than it was on the west side, and there was a great gully in the street which has since been filled up. The dip in the street there was so great that a stage coach, in going from the Union Hall, would pass out of sight from a person standing in front of that hotel in this ravine.” (footnote 1) So it is no surprise that excavation for the new building in 2012 reached bedrock at 25 feet near the sidewalk, but never did find bedrock at the rear.

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