Schenectady, New York: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Schenectady, New York

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the movie of a similar name, see Synecdoche, New York.
City of Schenectady, New York
—  City  —
Aerial view of Schenectady

Nickname(s): The Electric City
Located in Schenectady County in the State of New York
Coordinates: 42°48′15″N 73°55′45″W / 42.80417°N 73.92917°W / 42.80417; -73.92917
Country United States
State New York
County Schenectady
Founded 1765
Incorporated 1798
 - Mayor Brian Stratton (D)
 - City 11.0 sq mi (28.5 km2)
 - Land 10.9 sq mi (28.1 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (1.27 km2)
Elevation 211-275 ft (74 m)
Population (2000)
 - City 61,821
 Density 5,699/sq mi (2,200.4/km2)
 Metro 850,957
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 518
Twin Cities
 - Nijkerk  Netherlands
FIPS code 36-65508
GNIS feature ID 0964570

Schenectady (pronounced /skəˈnɛktədi/) is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 61,821, making it the ninth-largest city in New York. The name "Schenectady" is derived from a Mohawk word for "on that side of the pinery," or "near the pines," or "place beyond the pine plains."[1]

The city of Schenectady is in eastern New York, near the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. It is in the same metropolitan area as the state capital, Albany; Schenectady is about eighteen miles (29 km) northwest of Albany.



The area that is now Schenectady was originally the land of the Mohawk nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. When Dutch settlers arrived in the Hudson Valley in the middle of the 17th century, the Mohawk called the settlement at Fort Orange "Schau-naugh-ta-da", meaning "over the pine plains." Eventually, this word entered the lexicon of the Dutch settlers, but the meaning was reversed, and the name referred to the bend in the Mohawk River where the city lies today.

Schenectady was first settled in 1661 when the area was part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Settlement was led by Arent van Curler (Dutch: Arendt van Corlaer) of Nijkerk in the Netherlands. Additional land was purchased from the Mohawks in 1670 and 1672. In 1684 Governor Thomas Dongan granted letters patent to Schenectady to five trustees.[2]

On February 8, 1690, during King William's War the Schenectady massacre, led by France and its Indian allies, resulted in the death of 62 of Schenectady's inhabitants.[3] In 1748, during King George's War it was again attacked by the French and their Indian allies.

In 1765, Schenectady was incorporated as a borough. It was chartered as a city in 1798. During the American Revolutionary War the local militia unit the 2nd Albany County Militia Regiment was active during the Battle of Saratoga and in fights against Loyalist troops. Union College was founded here in 1795.

In the 19th century Schenectady became an important transportation center connecting the Hudson River to the Mohawk Valley and the Great Lakes. The Albany and Schenectady Turnpike (now State Street), established in 1797, connected Albany to the Mohawk Valley. The Erie Canal (now Erie Boulevard), opened in 1825, passed through here, as did the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, opened in 1831, one of the first railway lines in the United States.

In 1887, Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works to Schenectady. In 1892, Schenectady became the headquarters of the General Electric Company. Interestingly, when 5-digit ZIP codes were introduced by the U.S. Postal Service in the 1960s, the GE campus was assigned 12345, in spite of the fact that all the zip codes surrounding GE begin with 1230_.

Schenectady is home to WGY-AM, one of the first commercial radio stations in the United States. The station was named for its owner, General Electric (the G), and the city of Schenectady (the Y) [4]. General Electric also generated the first regular television broadcasts in the United States in 1928, when experimental station W2XB began regular broadcasts on Thursday and Friday afternoons. This television station is now WRGB, for years the Capital District's NBC affiliate, but more recently its CBS affiliate.


Schenectady is located at 42°48′15″N 73°55′45″W / 42.80417°N 73.92917°W / 42.80417; -73.92917 (42.804076, -73.929289)[5]. The altitude above sea level is 211 to 275 feet (84 m).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.0 square miles (28.5 km²), of which, 10.9 square miles (28.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (1.27%) is water.

It is part of the Capital District, the metropolitan area surrounding Albany, New York state's capital. Along with Albany and Troy, it is one of the three principal population and industrial centers in the region.


The city was once known as "The City that Lights and Hauls the World" – a reference to two prominent businesses in the city, the Edison Electric Company (now known as General Electric), and the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). GE retains its administrative core in Schenectady, but many of manufacturing jobs relocated to the Sun Belt and abroad. The American Locomotive Company produced steam locomotives for railroads for years, and then in the later years became famous for its "Superpower" line of high pressure locomotives, such as those for the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1930s and 1940s. As diesel locomotives began to appear, ALCO joined with GE to develop diesel locomotives to compete with the EMD division of General Motors. But corporate restructuring to cope with the changing locomotive procurement environment saw the slow downward spiral of ALCO and ALCO's operations fizzled as the company went through acquisitions and restructuring in the late 1960s. Its Schenectady plant closed in 1969. In the late 20th century, the city experienced difficult financial times, as did many upstate New York cities. The loss of employment helped cause Schenectady's population to decline by nearly one-third since 1950. Nevertheless, Schenectady is presently a part of a metropolitan area with improving economic health.[citation needed]


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1800 5,289
1810 5,903 11.6%
1820 3,939 −33.3%
1830 4,268 8.4%
1840 6,784 59.0%
1850 8,921 31.5%
1860 9,579 7.4%
1870 11,026 15.1%
1880 13,655 23.8%
1890 19,902 45.7%
1900 31,682 59.2%
1910 72,826 129.9%
1920 88,723 21.8%
1930 95,692 7.9%
1940 87,549 −8.5%
1950 91,785 4.8%
1960 81,070 −11.7%
1970 77,958 −3.8%
1980 67,972 −12.8%
1990 65,566 −3.5%
2000 61,821 −5.7%
Est. 2007 61,531 −0.5%

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 61,821 people, 26,265 households, and 14,051 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,699.0 people per square mile (2,199.9/km²). There were 30,272 housing units at an average density of 2,790.6/sq mi (1,077.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.77% White, 14.77% African American, 0.36% Native American, 2.00% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.52% from other races, and 3.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.88% of the population. There is a growing Guyanese population in the area.

There were 26,264 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.0% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.5% were non-families. 38.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,378, and the median income for a family was $36,458. Males had a median income of $30,869 versus $25,292 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,076. About 16.8% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.5% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.

The mayor is Brian Stratton.

Rail transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides regular service to Schenectady. Schenectady also has freight rail service from Canadian Pacific Railway and CSX Transportation.

Schenectady once had a local streetcar system and an electric interurban passenger line from Gloversville, Johnstown, Amsterdam, and Scotia into downtown Schenectady. This was on the electrified Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville Railroad. Considerable passenger traffic for the interurban was created by the numerous leather and glove companies (178) in the Gloversville region. Sales representatives with their product sample cases beginning their sales campaigns throughout the rest of the country would use the interurban to reach Schenectady's New York Central Railroad station to connect for trains to New York City and Chicago and points between.

Bright orange FJ&G interurbans were scheduled to meet every daylight New York Central train that stopped at Schenectady. Through the 1900s and into the early 1930s the line was quite prosperous but as ridership began to decline, the FJ&G purchased in 1932 five lightweight Brill Bullet cars (#125 through 129) from the JGBrill Company. These interurbans represented state of the art design: the "bullet" description came from the unusual aerodynamically sloped front roof down to the windshield. This purchase was based upon FJ&G's assumption of continuing good passenger business from a prosperous glove and leather industry and legacy tourism traffic to Lake Sacandaga north of Gloversville. Instead, roads got better, automobiles got cheaper, and the Great Depression deepened.

Ridership continued to decline, and in 1938 New York state condemned the line's bridge over the Mohawk River at Schenectady. This bridge had once carried cars, pedestrians, plus the interurban, but ice flow damage in 1928 prompted the state to restrict its use to the interurban. In 1938, the state condemned the bridge for interurban use too, and this led to abandonment of passenger service. The desirable Bullet cars were sold. Freight business had also been important to the FJ&G, and supposedly it continued over the questionable bridge into Schenectady a few more years.

Places of interest

Proctor's Theatre
An accordion-playing guide welcomes visitors to a restored Dutch home in the Schenectady Stockade District.
  • Proctor's Theatre is an arts center. Built in 1926 as a vaudeville/movie theater, it has been refurbished. It is home to "Goldie," a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ. Proctor's was also the site of one of the first public demonstrations of television, projecting an image from a studio at the GE plant a mile [2 km] away. Today, Proctors is home to 3 theaters including the historic Mainstage at Proctors, the GE Theatre at Proctors and 440 Upstairs at Proctors.
  • The Stockade Historic District, which features dozens of Dutch and English Colonial houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, is New York's first historic district, designated in 1965. It is named after the stockade fence that originally surrounded the settlement.
  • The General Electric Realty Plot, located near Union College, was built for General Electric Company executives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and features an eclectic collection of grand homes in a variety of architectural styles, including Tudor, Dutch Colonial, Queen Anne, and Spanish Colonial. The Plot is home to the first all electric home in the United States, and is one of the first planned residential neighborhoods in the US. The Plot also hosts an annual House and Garden Tour.
  • Union College, adjacent to the GE Realty Plot, is the oldest planned college campus in the United States. The Union campus features the unique 16-sided Nott Memorial building, built in 1875, and Jackson's Garden, eight acres (32,000 m²) of formal gardens and woodlands.
  • Central Park is the crown jewel of Schenectady's parks. Central Park is the highest elevation point in the city. The Common Council voted in 1913 to purchase the land for the present site of the park. The park features an acclaimed rose garden, Iroquois Lake, and a stadium tennis court which was the former home to the New York Buzz of the World Team Tennis league (as of 2008). Central park was named after New York City's Central Park, the crowning achievement of the designer of both, Frederick Law Olmstead.
  • The Schenectady Museum features exhibits on the development of science and technology. It contains the Suits-Bueche Planetarium.
  • Schenectady City Hall is the focal point of government in the city. It was designed by McKim, Mead and White and built in 1933.
  • Schenectady's Municipal Golf Course is an 18-hole championship facility sited among oaks and pines. Designed in 1935 by Jim Thompson under the WPA, the course was ranked by Golf Digest among "Best Places to Play in 2004" and received a three-star rating.
  • Jay Street, located between Proctors and City Hall, is a short street partially closed to motor traffic. It features a number of small, independently operated businesses and eateries and is a popular destination.
  • Schenectady Light Opera Company (SLOC) is a small community theater on group on State Street in downtown Schenectady.
  • The Empire State Aerosciences Museum, in nearby Glenville, features extensive exhibits and materials on aviation.
  • The Edison Exploratorium, exhibits and promotes the physical development of engineering of technology that was developed or produced in Schenectady.

Schenectady in popular culture

The 2008 film Synecdoche, New York is partially set in Schenectady, and plays on the aural similarity between the city's name and the figure of speech synecdoche. The film The Way We Were was filmed on location in Schenectady at Union College, and in nearby Ballston Spa, NY.

In the television program, "The Honeymooners," Trixie's mother was from Schenectady. In the ABC-TV series Ugly Betty, Marc St. James (played by Michael Urie) grew up in Schenectady. In one episode of All In The Family, Edith (played by Jean Stapleton) mentions that going to Buffalo, New York by way of the New York State Thruway, it took her at least four hours to go through Schenectady. In the series "Will and Grace," Grace was raised in Schenectady and her mother, played by Debbie Reynolds, still lives there.

In the song Someone To Love by Fountains of Wayne, Seth Shapiro, a fictional character in the song, moved to Brooklyn from Schenectady in 1993.

Schenectady is referenced or is the setting for many of Kurt Vonnegut's books, most notably Hocus Pocus and Player Piano. Doctor Octopus a Marvel Comics supervillain was born in Schenectady, New York.

Author Harlan Ellison has stated that anytime a fan or interviewer asks him the question "Where do you get your ideas?" he replies "Schenectady".[7] Science fiction writer Barry Longyear subsequently titled a collection of his short stories "It Came From Schenectady"[8]

Notable residents

Sister city


  1. ^ Jonathan Pearson et. al., A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times, 30 Jul 2009. Retrieved on 28 Sep 2009
  2. ^ Schenectady Digital History Archive
  3. ^ The Schenectady Massacre: Settlers Killed and Captured
  4. ^ Brian Belanger,Radio & Television Museum News, Radio Station WGY, Feb 2006. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Interview with Harlan Ellison
  8. ^ It Came From Schenectady
  9. ^ a b Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967. 
  • "The Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville RR: The Sacandaga Route to the Adirondacks". Randy Decker, Arcadia Publishing.
  • " Our Railroad: The Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville RR 1867 to1893". Paul Larner, St. Albans, VT.
  • "The Steam Locomotive in America". Alfred W. Bruce, 1952, Bonanza Books division of Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, NY.

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address