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Cohoes was originally purchased from local natives in the year 1630 and was once part of the Rensselaerwyck manor.. It is also known by it’s nickname “The Spindle City” because of the importance of textile production. The name is believed to be reference to the Cohoes Falls and of Mohawk origins. In 1848, Cohoes was incorporated as a village, and in 1869 chartered as a city.

In 1831, a dam was constructed on the Mohawk River above the city’s waterfall. This provided power to make the community a leading textile center. In 1836 the Harmony Manufacturing Company (Harmony Mills) was established making Cohoes a recognizable mill town. During the 1870s the mills were enormously profitable because of the Erie Canal, which flowed past them at that time.

In 1866, during excavation work for Harmony Mills, the bones of a mastodon were unearthed over a period of several weeks. The Cohoes Mastodon skeleton was on display in the lobby of the New York State Museum in Albany and a replica can be seen at the Cohoes Public Library.

The city is home to the historic Cohoes Music Hall, a Victorian opera house. Built in 1874, the theatre hosted such personalities as Buffalo Bill Cody, Jimmy Durante, Eva Tanguay, and John Phillip Sousa. The building fell into disrepair in the mid 20th century but was later renovated and reopened in 1974. Several professional regional theaters have made their home at the Cohoes Music Hall, and the house draws theatergoers from around the Capital District.

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