HIS BASIC POINT, which he drives home at every opportunity, is that awareness of past success makes it possible to succeed again: If you think through what attributes made Troy triumphant in the 19th century -- a transportation hub, enlightened schools, a skilled workforce, an entrepreneurial ethic -- then you can try to foster those conditions again, especially if you have a confidence based on past experience.
Troy's mayor, Mark Pattison, has no illusions about a rapid resurrection of the city. Like many in the region, his roots run back generations, with a father in Congress and a mother who has long been active in the Gateway and, in fact, introduced Pattison to Carroll. "He's got energy and vision, and a clear view of how rich the history is here," Pattison says. "History is very inspiring, and it's a legitimate launching point. But it's going to take a lot of things to happen." His pillars for rejuvenation are technology, like the software companies locating in the city; downtown living, like the artist's lofts in vacant buildings; and tourism, to which the Gateway is a growing contributor.
One of the greatest benefits to come from Carroll's work will be self-awareness, Pattison thinks. "Locals often don't even see the Burden Iron Works." They should, he adds, since many of the older residents drew paychecks at that building. Maybe their children -- many of whom, although they've moved to the suburbs, return each Sunday to worship at their family church -- will learn to see it.
It is this resonant sense of community and potential that attracts Carroll and makes the venture worth the risk, he says. His long-range goal is to "make the Gateway into the very best regional industrial history institute in the United States so it can contribute to sustainable, broad-based prosperity for the region. I want to finish off the Burden Iron Works Museum to use as a base for education programs, as a community center, and as a lure for tourists. And I'd love to sponsor a scholarship for young researchers. I could go on, but you get the idea."
W. Conard Holton, C'72, is a science and technology writer who lives just outside Troy, New York.
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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 6/1/98