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Rensselaer’s 275-acre campus is a blend of modern style and classic design. Built into a hillside, RPI overlooks the historic city of Troy and the Hudson River.
Rensselaer began its existence in a single building known as the Old Bank Place on the northwest corner of River and Middleburgh Streets.
The Rensselaer School opened at the Old Bank Place on January 5, 1825 and remained there until 1834. The building housed laboratories with scientific instruments and specimens, an observatory, a library, lecture rooms and living quarters for the students. An 1841 catalog describes the site as "airy, healthy, and rural, surrounded by fields, hills and groves." Rensselaer remained at the Old Bank Place until 1844.
The Institute acquired the ten-acre Walter Phelps Warren estate in 1905, making it possible to establish a true campus. The first building erected on this parcel was the Carnegie Building. The four-story building, made of Harvard brick and Indiana Limestone, was finished in September 1906. The Carnegie Building was dedicated along with the Walker Laboratory on June 12, 1907.
Rensselaer is in the heart of New York’s Capital Region, putting a world of cultural and recreational opportunities within reach.
The area offers both a relaxed lifestyle and easy access to the high-energy metropolitan centers of the Northeast.
History, Culture, and Metros
The history, entertainment, culture, shopping, and festivals in and around Troy and New York State’s Capital of Albany are minutes away from the Rensselaer campus. Drive a few more minutes and you’re in Saratoga Springs for horseracing in the summer and a happening nightlife year-round. Famous havens like Cooperstown and Woodstock are a quick drive away. A trip to Manhattan can be a scenic Hudson River ride on Amtrak or explore downtown Boston — both are equidistant from Troy, less than three hours away. Just a bit farther is Niagara Falls near Buffalo, or cosmopolitan Montreal, Canada.
Mountains, Lakes, Nature, and Parks
The Capital region offers numerous trails for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and mountain-bikers. The Adirondack Mountains of New York, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, Vermont’s Green Mountains, and New York’s Catskills are all within an hour of Troy, and offer hundreds of areas for camping, hiking, and skiing. Many clubs sponsored by the Rensselaer Union take full advantage of these natural resources.
Arts, Music, and Sports
Arts organizations of every description are also found in the area. The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, considered by many experts to have the finest acoustics in America, is a short walk from campus as is a new downtown arts center. Nearby Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is the summer home to the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass. is also close by and the summer venue for the Boston Pops. Albany’s Times Union Center hosts a wide array of top-name musical groups, sporting events, and other entertainment options.
Approximately 2,800 students live on campus. All freshmen and many upperclass students list some or all of these following reasons for their decision to be part of our residential community:
Student rooms are furnished with a bed, dresser, desk, desk chair, and a closet or wardrobe for each resident. Facilities for laundry, storage, parking, and limited cooking are available in all residential areas. Most areas also have lounges.