Schenectady, New York

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Image:Union College Nott.jpg
Union College's Nott Memorial, one of the most recognized buildings in Schenectady

Schenectady (IPA /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 total population of 61,821. Schenectady is the 9th largest city in New York State. 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 State, near the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. It is in the same metropolitan area as the state capital, Albany, New York; central Schenectady is about 15 miles (24 km) north-west of central Albany.


[edit] History

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.

Contrary to popular belief, the areas consisting of Schenectady and nearby Niskayuna were not actually inhabited by the Mohawk -- at most there were "lean-to's" scattered throughout the area, enabling weary travellers and hunting parties the opportunity to stop and rest before heading to the settlements near present-day Fonda. If there were indeed settlements in the immediate area of Schenectady and Niskayuna, they most likely belonged to the Mohican, who by 1634 had been forced east of the Hudson River.

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 of Nijkerk in the Netherlands, who was granted letters patent to Schenectady in 1684.

On February 8, 1690, the town was attacked and overrun by forces of France and their Indian allies, who burned the town and killed all but 60 of the inhabitants. This event is known as The Schenectady Massacre

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.

Schenectady is home to WGY-AM, one of the first commercial radio stations in the United States. The station was named after 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, Thursday and Friday afternoons. This television station is now WRGB, for years, the Capital District's NBC affiliate, but more recently, its CBS affiliate. (see: 1928 in television).

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 dual reference to two prominent businesses located in the city, the Edison Electric Company (now known as General Electric), and the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). GE has retained its administrative core in Schenectady, but many of the manufacturing jobs have been relocated to the Sun Belt and abroad. ALCO's operations slowly fizzled out as the company went through a series of acquisitions and restructuring in the late 1960s, and their Schenectady plant was closed in 1969. In the late 20th century, the city experienced difficult financial times, as did many upstate New York cities. The profound loss of employment opportunities has led to Schenectady's population decline by nearly a third since 1950. However, it should be noted that Schenectady is part of a larger metropolitan area which has better economic health overall.[citation needed]

[edit] Geography

Schenectady, New York

Schenectady is located at 42°48′15″N, 73°55′45″W (42.804076, -73.929289)GR1. The altitude above sea-level is 211 to 275 feet.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.5 km² (11.0 mi²). 28.1 km² (10.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.4 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (1.27%) is water.

[edit] Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 61,821 people, 26,265 households, and 14,051 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,199.9/km² (5,699.0/mi²). There were 30,272 housing units at an average density of 1,077.2/km² (2,790.6/mi²). 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 26,265 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.

[edit] Rail Transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Schenectady as delineated in the table below:

Preceding station Amtrak Lines Following station
Albany-Rensselaer   Adirondack
  Saratoga Springs
Albany-Rensselaer   Empire Service
Albany-Rensselaer   Empire Service
Albany-Rensselaer   Ethan Allen Express
  Saratoga Springs
Albany-Rensselaer   Lake Shore Limited
Albany-Rensselaer   Maple Leaf
Saratoga Springs   Adirondack
Amsterdam   Empire Service
Utica   Empire Service
Saratoga Springs   Ethan Allen Express
Utica   Lake Shore Limited
Amsterdam   Maple Leaf

Schenectady also has freight rail service from Canadian Pacific Railway and CSX Transportation.

[edit] Places of interest

An accordion-playing guide welcomes visitors to a restored Dutch home in the Schnectady Stockade District.
  • The Stockade Historic District, which features dozens of Dutch and English Colonial houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, is New York State's first National Register historic district, designated in 1965. It is named after the stockade fence that originally surrounded the settlement. Another historic neighborhood, the GE Realty Plot, was built by General Electric Company executives in the early 20th century. "The Plot," as the locals call it, is known for its eclectic collection of grand homes.
  • Union College, located adjacent to the GE Realty Plot, is the oldest planned college campus in the United States. The Union campus features Jackson's Garden, with eight acres (32,000 m²) of formal gardens and woodlands, and the unique 16-sided Nott Memorial building, built in 1875.
  • Schenectady County Community College is located in downtown Schenectady. The school was started in the former Hotel Van Curler and is known for its technical, culinary, and music programs.
  • Central Park is the crown of Schenectady's numerous 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 that is home to the New York Buzz of the World Team Tennis league.
  • City Hall is the focal point of government in the city. It is often remarked that Schenectady City Hall is one of the more beautiful city halls in New York
  • Located in Schenectady is its Municipal Golf Course. It is an 18 hole championship facility nestled amongst stately oaks and towering pines.
    The course was designed in 1935 by Jim Thompson under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. Schenectady Municipal Golf Course stretches to 6600 yards (6000 m) and features fast, undulating greens and tight fairways blanketed within grasses and native vegetation.
    Schenectady Municipal Golf Course was ranked by Golf Digest "Best Places to Play in 2004" and earned a three-star rating.
  • Proctor's Theater is the major arts venue. Built in 1926 as a vaudeville/movie theater, it was refurbished and is now home for live stage events. 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.
  • Jay Street, located between Proctor's Theater and City Hall, is a short street completely closed to motor traffic. It features a number of small, independently operated local businesses and eateries, and is a popular destination for many in the area.

[edit] Trivia

  • A timeline of Schenectady's long history.
  • Science fiction author Kurt Vonnegut has portrayed Schenectady in his novels through the name "Illium".
  • The tulip is the City of Schenectady's designated flower. Symbolic of the Dutch origin of the city, the tulip is a flower extensively cultivated and nurtured in the Netherlands, although also extensively grown in North America.
  • Schenectady is featured in Dr. Seuss's I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.
  • Schenectady is featured in a poem by Eve Merriam called "Schenectady."
  • Schenectady is featured in a poem by Medora Addison called "Names."
  • Schenectady's General Electric plant has the ZIP Code 12345.
  • Schenectady is the hometown of the character Grace Adler on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace.
  • There is a collection of science-fiction short stories by Barry Longyear entitled It Came from Schenectady. The title is from Harlan Ellison's reply -- often repeated -- when people asked Ellison, "Where do you get your ideas?"
  • Schenectady is the former home of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2005 the Hall moved to Amsterdam.
  • The fictional comic book character Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man is from Schenectady.
  • Schenectady introduced the first commercial television station with the creation of WRGB in 1940.
  • The title character of Henry James' novella Daisy Miller is from Schenectady.
  • The official song of Schenectady, entitled "Our Schenectady," was composed by John Van Laak and was sung by Judi Merriam. It was adopted by the Schenectady City Council on January 30, 1995. Its lyrics are:
In Schenectady
Our Schenectady
What a warm and friendly place it is to be
Nestled among plains and hills
With a beautiful river that always gives us thrills
And stores and shops with all that one might need or wish to see
And legends and tales and lots of history
Oh Schenectady
Our Schenectady
Let us now plan and help to make it grow
If we will all do our best
Then others can do the rest
For places to study and learn in
Places to work and earn in
Places to live in happiness

Source: Daily Gazette Jan. 31, 1995 p. B1

  • In the fall of 1972, director Sydney Pollack filmed for two weeks on the Union College campus for the flashback sequences of the movie The Way We Were, starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.
  • Episode 224 of "This American Life" entitled 'Middlemen' features a story on then Mayor Al Jurczynski's campaign to draw Guyanese immigrants from the Bronx to Schenectady
  • Schenectady is jokingly mentioned in the popular Magazine "Mad" as "100% Celine Dion Free".

[edit] Notable residents

  • Kurt Vonnegut, lived in Schenectady while working for GE in the early 1950's.
  • Stephen Alexander, (1806-1883), noted astronomer, mathematician, and educator <ref name="Marquis 1607-1896"> (1967) Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who.</ref>
  • Horatio Allen, (1802-1889), born in Schenectady, noted railroad engineer and inventor <ref name="Marquis 1607-1896"/>
  • Paul "Legs" DiCocco, the capital district's link to organized crime was a well liked, prominent business owner. He owned a luncheonette with his brother Duilio that was renowned for its Italian cuisine. Paul died in 1989 after a heart transplant. His son, Paul Jr., now is a driver for actor Tom Hanks and has acted in a few films himself.[citation needed]
  • Director John Sayles was born and raised in Schenectady; the Schenectady High school of fine arts is named after him.
  • Shirley Muldowney, the First Lady of Drag Racing was born and raised in Schenectady.
  • Basketball Coach Pat Riley was born and raised in Schenectady. The Schenectady High School athletics wing is named after him after he donated a substantial amount of money for its creation.
  • Sir Charles Mackerras, the famous British conductor, was born in Schenectady while his father was taking an electrical-engineering course. See Medallion man
  • Don Rittner, historian, environmental activist, and author of 23 books lives in Schenectady.
  • Mickey Rourke was born in Schenectady
  • Ann B. Davis (Alice on The Brady Bunch) was born in Schenectady

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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Image:Map of New York highlighting Schenectady County.png Schenectady County, New York
County seat Schenectady
City Schenectady
Villages Delanson | Scotia
Towns Duanesburg | Glenville | Niskayuna | Princetown | Rotterdam
Hamlets/CDPs Alplaus | Duanesburg | Duane Lake | East Glenville | Mariaville Lake | Niskayuna | Pattersonville-Rotterdam Junction | Rotterdam

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Schenectady, New York

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