The Amsterdam City Hall is located at 61 Church Street, Amsterdam, NY and is open from 8:00am to 4:00pm Monday - Friday.
City Hall is home to your city government, including the City Mayor and Council members. In addition to the Mayor's office City hall houses most city departments, department heads and organizations such as AIDA and Urban Renewal. Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month, at 7:30pm in the Common Council Chambers located on the second floor of City Hall, 61 Church Street, Amsterdam, NY.
The City of Amsterdam is proud to house an office for Congressman Tonko, located on the third floor of City Hall.
The City Council consists of five members, one representing each of the 5 Wards in Amsterdam. Their job is enactment of legislation for City functioning. One of Council's main duties is the enactment of the City's annual budget. Council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending, whether for operations (e.g., salaries) or capital items such as major equipment purchases, street repairs, or other public improvements.
The Sanford Home:
Founded later than nearby farming communities, Amsterdam came into its own in the mid 1800s, as improvements in technology and transportation made it practical to harness the power of the Chuctanunda Creek for major industry. Riding the wave that would make Amsterdam one of the largest cities in New York, and home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in New York, was the Sanford Family.
Stephen Sanford turned his business into one of the world's largest carpet manufacturers (Sanford Bigelow). At the same time, he became Amsterdam's foremost business, civic, and social leader and philanthropist. Befitting his position in life, in 1869 he purchased and improved a Second Empire style house, the basis for the current City Hall. His Son John succeeded Stephen in the family business and other interests, and began a major expansion of the house after his father's death, converting it to a Classical Revival style.
A Home for City Hall:
The mansion became Amsterdam's first publicly owned City Hall; prior to its occupancy, city functions had been scattered among a series of rented, periodically- changing sites downtown.
The change from private home to city building was rapid, requiring little in funds and effort. To this day, some city departments remain in their original 1932 locations(e.g., the City Engineer in the former Girls' Bedroom). Others have moved into newer facilities (e.g., City Court, the APD Detectives), while still others disappeared with bygone times (The Milk Inspector's office, the switchboard operator station in the north entryway). An elevator was added to the building in the 1960s. Initially, city leaders hoped the spacious building and grounds would encourage relocation of all or part of the county seat to Amsterdam, but this did not occur. Neither did an early proposal to convert the Carriage House to the City Jail. Relocating City Hall to the Amsterdam Mall was proposed in the mid 1990s; this, too, was rejected.
More Than Just A Building:
In all of its incarnations, City Hall has been the backdrop for occasions happy and sad, large and small. Thousands of Amsterdamians passed through the library of the old mansion(now the City Clerk's office) to pay their last respects to the Stephen Sanford after his death in 1913. The housewarming of the rebuild mansion in 1917 was the largest and most lavish in Amsterdam history.
Since then, City Hall has received notables from all walks of life: from statesmen to boxers; from the Burgomaster (mayor) of Amsterdam, Holland, to actor and native son Kirk Douglas. City Hall has also provided a venue for winter ice skating, Halloween haunted houses, public exhibitions, and many other activities.
Grounds And Gardens:
In their heyday, the gardens were a favorite site for picnics, walks and wedding portraits.
Many features of the original plan have changed dramatically: a series of greenhouses was removed as a condition of the city's acceptance; the wrought iron picket fence that surrounded the entire estate was a victim of over-zealous scrap collection in World War II; the Italian Rose Garden has been crowded out by second-growth trees; and many of the original elm trees were destroyed by two waves of Dutch Elm disease that swept America in the 1930s and 1960s.
However, the Carriage House still exists, despite a fire that destroyed many valuable records in 1941, as does the separate laundry building, now a conference center. And the remains of an oddly-placed Guard House have been recently rediscovered on the Grounds.
Our Home Again:
Not far from where the Sanford's once placed a drinking fountain outside their gate to refresh mill workers climbing Church Street Hill, a time capsule is buried, not to be opened until 2054.
It will then be 250 years since Amsterdam was so named, and City Hall will be entering its second century. If we pursue the preservation efforts just now begun, City hall will continue to be a vibrant representation of Amsterdam -past, present, and future- for many more such anniversaries to come.