CLIFTON PARK: The past, writ large

Historical maps provide a snapshot in time, and one of those very large maps is now on public display at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library.

Visitors to the library can't miss the huge wall map of Clifton Park and Halfmoon, originally published in 1866 by S.N. Beers in the New Topographical Atlas of Saratoga County, just past the library's lobby on the wall underneath the stairs leading up to the second floor.

Accompanying the map is a free brochure, A Brief History of our Towns, created by reference librarians Gail Winters and Ginny Bolen, with the help of Clifton Park Historian John Scherer and his Halfmoon counterpart, Ellen Kennedy.

"There's nothing like a map, and especially with people's names on it, to give you a sense of the history of a place. Visually, you get the idea of how it was populated, what kind of activities went on here," Bolen said. "It's just a wonderful representation; it transports you 150 years just by looking at it."

The map, printed on wallpaper, catalogs specific homes and businesses with dots and familiar names attached such as Vischer, Grooms, and VanVranken. Bolen said the map is popular with library visitors.

"People are really interested in actually finding the name of somebody," Bolen said. "I live in Clifton Park so I had the same fun of trying to figure out 'which road is this, which house is this?'"

According to the brochure that hangs near the map, evidence of humans in Clifton Park and Halfmoon goes as far back as 8,000 years, with Europeans settling in the area in the mid-1600s. The brochure also includes photographs dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Erie Canal was a large part of the area's history. It ran along the Mohawk in the town.

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