Colonie is a town in Albany County, New York, United States. It is the most populous suburb of Albany, New York, and is the third largest town in area in Albany County, occupying about 11% of the county. Several hamlets exist within the town. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 81,591. The name is derived from the Dutch Colonye or "Colonie," derived from the Colonie of Rensselaerswyck. All the land outside the Village of Beverwyck (now Albany) was referred to as the "Colonie."
This area was once part of the Rensselaerwyck manor. The town of Colonie was formed in 1895 after the rural residents of the town of Watervliet opposed the state's proposal to transform the entire town into a city of Watervliet. The town/village of Green Island was also split off as a town from the town of Watervliet a year later and the village of West Troy that remained became the current city of Watervliet. All debts from the original town were divided proportionally between Green Island, Watervliet, and Colonie. Several lawsuits worked their way through the court system from the results of division. The original town of Watervliet was the "mother of towns" in Albany County, having once been all the land outside of the city of Albany within the county, all current towns either were formed directly from Watervliet or from a town formed from Watervliet.
The central part of the town was once the location of the extensive Shaker community farms. The Watervliet Shaker Historic District is located in Colonie. Much of that land is now occupied by the Albany International Airport.
Through to the 1930s, Colonie was a simple series of extensive farms and a few hamlets. However, in the post-war years, there was intensive suburban development, originally on the corridor that connected Albany and Schenectady, but quickly throughout the entire township. By 1980, suburban development had saturated the community. At the same time, there were large highways (I-87, I-787, US Rt. 9 and NY Rt. 7) constructed which drastically changed the nature of the town and life there. The Colonie of the 1990s and beyond has become an entirely different community from the town of the 1930s and 1940s.
The Supervisor of the Town of Colonie is Democrat Paula Mahan. She was elected to her first term in November 2007, defeating long-time Republican incumbent Mary Brizzell. The Colonie GOP had held the reins of town government since the 1930s. Mahan's upset victory shook the local political scene as one of the great upsets in Albany County electoral history. In November 2009, Mrs. Mahan was re-elected to a second term, defeating former Republican Albany County Executive/former New York State Senator Michael J. Hoblock, and in November 2011, Mrs. Mahan was re-elected to a third term, defeating former New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and the former Director of the town's Planning and Economic Development Committee, Denise Sheehan, by less than 400 votes.
The Casparus F. Pruyn House is open to the public as the historical and cultural arts center for the Town of Colonie.