It’s been another exciting year here at saratogaliving.com—and we’ve seen tremendous, unprecedented, year-over-year growth. Not to bore you or anything with a massive data dump, but I wanted to share with you a few key figures. In 2019, the second full year that you’ve been able to enjoy the reimagined saratogaliving.com, our annual traffic numbers have doubled to more than half a million pageviews—and we’ve seen record traffic months every single month this year. That’s a pretty amazing stat in and of itself. But, wait, there’s more. In July alone, for example, we saw a record monthly traffic output, with a month-over-month increase in pageviews of nearly 200 percent. And with still a few weeks left in the month of December, we’re looking at a total average monthly increase in pageviews of more than 150 percent.
What does this really mean? You’ve been coming to saratogaliving.com and using it as a source of real (breaking) local news and lifestyle content. We’ve brought you exclusives that our local competitors aggregate from us; feature-length material that they don’t have the time or personnel to execute on; and all of our amazing magazine stories, too, many of which have expanded word-counts or include exclusive galleries of photographs that may not have fit in the magazine.
I’m not trying to be immodest here; I can’t emphasize enough that we have you to thank for all of these high-water marks. And now, without further ado, here are the Top 20 most-read stories of 2019. As an added bonus, I’ve also included the Top 5 most-read stories ever at the bottom.
20 Most Popular Stories Of 2019
(1) “The Boys Of Mechanicville: How Five Friends From The Same Small Town Went On To Conquer Their Respective Worlds” by Tony Case – This is the story of how five friends—Chad Brown, C.J. DeCrescente, Dan Pickett, Dave DeVoe and Anthony Ianniello (future saratoga living Chair)—who were all from the same small town went on to conquer their respective worlds. (For those of you keeping count, Brown is an award-winning and record-breaking Thoroughbred horse trainer; DeCrescente, the president of Mechanicville-based DeCrescente Distributing; Pickett, chairman, CEO and cofounder of local technology giant nfrastructure; and DeVoe, former CFO of the global media colossus News Corp.)
(2) “Marylou Whitney: The Savior Of Saratoga” by Maria McBride Bucciferro – Early in 2018, when the saratoga living editorial team hunkered down to discuss what stories we were going to place in our best-ever “The Races!” (track) issue, I remember some of the longest conversations being about how to properly honor the “Queen of Saratoga,” Marylou Whitney. The thought was that if we were going to pull off a single-subject issue on Saratoga Springs’ historic horse races and racetrack—and everything else equine-related in between—Marylou Whitney needed to be given the pages afforded to our most important features, and our audience should get the comprehensive close-read that we knew it deserved. And, of course, we needed to find the perfect scribe to take on the
mammoth task of spinning a story that was equal-parts love letter, historical treatise and gripping must-read—one who would, above all, be taken seriously by our elevated Saratoga readership. We ultimately decided that former saratoga living Editor Maria McBride Bucciferro was the perfect person to tackle such a challenging and exhilarating assignment.
As we always seem to be in the magazine business, saratoga living was working on an extremely tight deadline leading up to “The Races!” issue, so we had precious little time to get the story right. I’ll never forget taking Maria’s draft with me on a short weekend getaway to Kayuta Lake (near Old Forge, NY), and waking up early to give the fascinating opus a close read and first edit. Predictably, the story got its well-deserved red-carpet rollout in the issue, shining like the bright sun that it was. By the end of the summer, it was nearly impossible to find a single copy of “The Races!” issue anywhere in the Capital Region, including our own Broadway headquarters. In effect, the issue had “sold out”—and our coverage of Marylou Whitney was a large reason why.
When we lost Marylou Whitney this July 19, her passing just happened to coincide with the release date of saratoga living’s 2019 “The Races!” issue, in which we’d inaugurated her as the first and only member of our Power List’s Hall Of Fame. On that exceedingly sad day, I was glued to saratogaliving.com, and later that afternoon, I noticed a New York Racing Association tweet announcing Marylou Whitney’s passing. That was almost immediately followed by a monumental, unprecedented spike in traffic to our website. Curious readers had not only found our fortuitous tribute to the Saratoga icon on our Power List, but had also rediscovered the comprehensive feature from 2018 on her as well. No one should be surprised that Marylou Whitney’s riveting life story, as written by Maria McBride Bucciferro, currently ranks as the most-read story in our website’s history. (My above words are reprinted here, with minor edits, from our 2019 Holiday issue.)
(3) “Dorinda Medley Gets Real: The Breakout Star Of Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives Of New York City’ Spends A Day In Saratoga” by Richard Pérez-Feria – As saratoga living Editor in Chief wrote at the outset of the story, “The moment Dorinda Medley and I locked eyes—as we were being introduced some seven years ago at a fancy soirée in lower Manhattan by our mutual best friend, Greg Calejo—I felt an electric charge enter my body as I recognized a fellow mischievous, no-nonsense, straight-shooter: This gorgeous woman in front of me was my kind of people, and I wanted more.”
Luckily, the two have remained close friends, and Pérez-Feria was able to pull off a first for Saratoga Springs: Put a massive national celebrity on the cover of a local magazine and have Saratoga’s Mayor declare “Dorinda Medley Day,” with the Bravolebrity hosting a VIP event, signing and party, with the magazine, at Prime at Saratoga National. Did I mention that Bravo’s cameras were at the party to capture it for the upcoming season of Real Housewives Of New York City? In other words, if you were there, you could be on national TV soon.
(4) “How Saratoga Springs Suddenly Emerged As America’s Best Small City Restaurant Destination” by Kevin Sessums – When we put last year’s Best Of Everything issue in motion, the idea of doing a feature on the top chefs in town and their restaurants was in the hopper from the get-go. But when we tracked down celebrated author and journalist Kevin Sessums (see: Vanity Fair, Mississippi Sissy) to cover our culinary scene for us, all bets were off. Case in point: Sessums asking Chef David Burke, culinary director at The Adelphi Hotel, point-blank, if he’d ever serve horse on the menu at Salt & Char. Responded Burke, carefully, knowing that our horse-racing-town audience was all ears: “I haven’t eaten horse personally. But classically, steak tartar was made from horse meat in the US. I don’t know if it’s even legal here. Either way, I think they’d be up in arms in Saratoga if I did. I’ll stick to beef.”
(5) “Fat Paulie’s, A New Meat-Centric Delicatessen, Coming To Congress Street In Saratoga” by Jeff Dingler – If the Top 4 sounded familiar, it’s because they were all either cover or main features in saratoga living magazine. So they all had the added publicity of being on newsstands for weeks—and being shared by all the big-time names that were covered. The same can’t be said for this story, which was a saratogaliving.com exclusive that we picked up on earlier than all of our competitors. (Hey, it pays to be local; you can just do a quick drive-by to get a bead on the news.) Even more amazing? The story only published on November 15, 2019 (the above stories have been on our site for more than a year).
(6) “‘saratoga living’ Power List 2019: The 14 Most Powerful Names In Saratoga Horse Racing” by the saratoga living Staff – As I mentioned above, this was our cover feature for last year’s “The Races!” issue and just happened to publish on the very same day that Saratoga lost Marylou Whitney. That sad fact is not to take away from the other amazingly talented individuals that made our list, including our cover model, award-winning horse trainer Todd Pletcher; jockeys Irad Ortiz, Jr. and José Ortiz, whom we featured on the cover of our previous year’s “The Races!”; and Danny Meyer, the Founder of Shake Shack, everybody’s favorite food choice at Saratoga Race Course.
(7) “One Caroline Street Will Transform Into The Cellar, A New Wine And Beer Bar, This July” by Jeff Dingler – Another great exclusive from Senior Writer Jeff Dingler—and another reason why it pays to have your office’s headquarters right around the corner from Caroline Street. Poetry in motion.
(8) “8 Female Musicians From Upstate New York You Should Be Listening To Right Now” by Will Levith – Even though this story only has eight artists on it, the concept began with more than ten options, many of whom were men. No offense to all of you talented dudes out there in the Capital-land, but I thought the talented women of the Capital Region (and beyond) should get the spotlight for once, all alone. And apparently, you all agreed with me.
(9) “14 Most Annoying Words And Phrases Overheard In Upstate New York Offices” by Will Levith – This story wrote itself. With a little help from my local friends on Facebook.
(10) “Watch Luke Bryan, Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department Perform Onstage At SPAC” by Natalie Moore – There’s nothing like a little “local viral” news to make your traffic go nutso. Natalie had a bead on this one after attending last July 11’s Luke Bryan show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center with a friend. Bryan invited the police officers onstage to tape a short segment for the CBS show Lip Sync To The Rescue, during which they lip synced and danced to Bryan’s hit song, “Knockin’ Boots.” The show turned out to be a national competition, where viewers could vote on their favorite lip sync-ers. Although the Saratoga first-responders didn’t win, our story on them did, over and over again.
(11) “‘saratoga living’ The Races Issue: Crossword Puzzle Key” by Natalie Moore – Since our first, reimagined issue of saratoga living magazine, Natalie’s been publishing enjoyable yet challenging crossword puzzles in every issue. If you’re a puzzler like me, you’ll know that her puzzles aren’t gimmes; they’re constructed with the type of puzzler in mind that works on New York Times crossword puzzles on a weekly basis. Clearly, the puzzle from this year’s “The Races!” issue stumped people, because more than 3000 readers sought out this key.
(12) “Saratoga’s New Palette Cafe To Be A Hybrid Coffee Shop And Creative Workspace” by Jeff Dingler – When new businesses open in town, people naturally want to know about them. But when they have a target audience of remote, creative, successful women workers, people start to get excited. That’s not to say that men aren’t allowed in (or served at) the Palette Cafe. (I’ve been there a few times.) “I wanted to create a space where women felt comfortable and that’s fun and creative and more experiential than your ordinary cafe,” Palette’s Owner Catherine Hover told us. The cafe’s also recently jumped in the coworking space business, too. Talk about a winning trifecta.
(13) “10 Words, Phrases And Expressions Only Upstate New Yorkers Use” by Will Levith – To some people, I have a funny accent. I also say funny things that nobody else in the world does. Because I’m from Saratoga. I figured an entire story about this would touch a nerve. And it did.
(14) “Whole Harvest Vegan And Vegetarian-Friendly Cafe Coming To Caroline Street” by Jeff Dingler – See a pattern forming here? Saratogians love new restaurant/bar openings. And ever since Whole Harvest set up shop right around the corner from saratoga living HQ, that’s been one of my go-to lunch spots when I’m not brown-bagging it. Plus, the daughter of the couple that lives across the street from my parents in Saratoga owns the place, so there’s that, too.
(15) “Where To Play Trivia Every Weeknight In The Capital Region” by Simone Teague – One of our fabulous editorial assistants, Simone Teague, e-penned this great roundup of local trivia nights. And it’s proven a favorite among the know-it-all bar crowds of the Capital Region.
(16) “A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking In Upstate New York: Part II” by Natalie Moore – Natalie’s our resident outdoorswoman, who’s conquered innumerable local peaks and hikes and slopes. And one of her best-loved stories on saratogaliving.com was her two-part series on the top hikes in Upstate New York (Part I can be read here). If I could take a wild guess, it’s likely because no other roadmap to the area’s many hikes exists in one place. Thank her later.
(17) “Sean Kelly, Lead Singer Of Beloved ’90s Jam Rockers The Samples, Dishes On His Upcoming Caffè Lena Debut” by Will Levith – I spent the majority of my college years listening and re-listening to four or five albums by college rock band The Samples. I used to practice their songs in my dorm room, when I didn’t have my nose buried in my books. When I had the chance to interview their lead singer, Sean Kelly, for a story on saratogaliving.com in advance of their big debut at Saratoga’s historic Caffè Lena, I jumped at the opportunity. The day I published my story, his manager called me to personally thank me for writing it. That was a first. And apparently, he enjoyed the venue; Kelly’s returning for a second show on January 9, 2020.
(18) “Paul Newman’s Upstate Legacy: A Glimpse Inside Double H Ranch” by Karen Bjornland – Can you believe that a story we published on December 6 has already pushed its way into the Top 20 most-read stories of the year? (It was featured in our 2019 Holiday Issue.) That’s what happened with this deep-dive on Double H Ranch Cofounder Paul Newman (yes, that Paul Newman). Double H is really one of the most incredible places in our region. Everybody should know its origin story.
(19) “The ‘saratoga living’ 10 Under 40: The Future Of Saratoga Philanthropy” by the saratoga living Staff – For our final issue of the year, we wanted to focus on how charitable a place Saratoga is—but we didn’t want to put together the obvious feature. So we landed on the idea of highlighting the 10 individuals (or groups of individuals) doing the greatest philanthropic work in the area, who were under the age of 40. We whittled down a massive list of candidates to the ones we’ve included on our first annual “10 Under 40” list. And we’ll be honoring each and every one of them at our upcoming “Saratoga Gives Back” party on Thursday, December 12.
(20) “iHeartRadio Albany, College Of Saint Rose’s Cold Case Analysis Center Team Up To Launch ‘Upstate Unsolved’ Podcast Series” by Will Levith – I was a huge fan of This American Life‘s Serial podcast, so I had high hopes for this one from the good folks at WGY. And the fact that Season 1 focused on the Susan Lyall cold case, one that I’d been following throughout my life—the University at Albany student went missing the year I graduated from Saratoga Springs High School and was never found—made it that much more compelling. (Our online readership clearly agreed.) And wouldn’t you know? WGY reporter Phoebe LaFave hit a home run. The podcast is now in its second season.
5 Most Popular Stories Of All Time
Rankings based on Google Analytics data; all rankings subject to change