A look at what many considered to be America's premier resort in the mid-19th century. In common with early European tourism, the reason behind Saratoga's rise as a tourist destination was the discovery of local spring water that were believed to have curative powers. The waters were discovered during the Revolutionary War of the late 18th century and it is said by some sources that George Washington himself became interested in buying land around Saratoga as he recognised the area's future potential.
Saratoga's first hotel was established about 1802 by Gideon Putnam, a Revolutionary War hero. The local water was soon considered especially favourable to those suffering from jaundice, dyspepsia and constipation. However, more pleasurable pastimes quickly became as prominent as the those concerned with health, With the coming of the railway, it was 6 hour journey from New York through the pleasant scenery of the Hudson Valley and it soon became a social mecca for the elite and well-to-do of 19th century US society. It was also very popular with rich plantation owners from the South who came north in the summer months to escape the humidity in the plantation areas.
In the early 20th century reformers on gambling won the closure of casinos for some years. The splendid hotels were demolished in 1940/50s. However, Saratoga Springs remains a major convention and summer tourist destination with emphasis on the arts and the late summer race meetings take place on the oldest such course in the USA.