Cities Near Schenectady, NY
Local city information for Schenectady, NY
For the movie of a similar name, see Synecdoche, New York.
() 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."
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 tribe of the Iroquois Nation. 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: Arent van Corlaer) of Nijkerk in the Netherlands, who was granted letters patent to Schenectady in 1684.
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. 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 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) . 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 once had a local streetcar system and excellent electric interurban passenger service 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 extremely 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 ridership began to decline, and optimistically in 1932 the FJ&G purchased five lightweight Brill Bullet cars (#125 through 129) from the JGBrill Company. These interurbans represented state of the art interurban design in terms of comfort, ride, and speed. 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, but roads got better, automobiles got cheaper, and the Great Depression deepened. Ridership still declined, and in 1938 New York state condemned the line's bridge over the Mohawk River at Schenectady. The bridge until 1928 had carried cars, pedestrians, plus the interurban, but ice flow damage caused the state to restrict bridge use only 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.
Historic population of Schenectady: 13,655 in 1880; 31,682 in 1900; 92,061 in 1950.
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. ALCO's operations fizzled as the company went through acquisitions and restructuring in the late 1960s, and 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 part of a metropolitan area with better economic health.
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