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Schenectady, New York

Schenectady (Θkahnéhtati in Tuscarora) 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. Schenectady is 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 State, 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 northwest of Albany.

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.

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, during King William's War the Schenectady massacre, led by France and its Indian allies, resulted in the death of 60 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.

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.

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.

Geography

Schenectady is located at (42.804076, -73.929289). The altitude above sea level is 211 to 275 feet.

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 generally considered to be 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 small, older industrial cities in the region.

Demographics

As of the census 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.

Places of interest

  • Proctors 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 National Register historic district, designated in 1965. It is named after the stockade fence that originally surrounded the settlement.
  • The GE Realty Plot, located near Union College, was built by General Electric Company executives and features lovely 18th and early 19th century homes. The historic neighborhood is unique for its 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 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.
  • 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 that is home to the New York Buzz of the World Team Tennis league.
  • The Schenectady Museum features exhibits on the development of science and technology. It contains the Suits-Bueche Planetarium.
  • Schenectady's City Hall is the focal point of government in the city. It was designed by McKim, Mead and White and built in 1933.
  • Located in Schenectady is its Municipal Golf Course It's an 18-hole championship facility sited among oaks and pines.
  • :The course was designed in 1935 by Jim Thompson under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course stretches to 6,600 yards (6000 m) and features fast, undulating greens and tight fairways with grasses and native vegetation. The course was ranked by Golf Digest as a "Best Places to Play in 2004" and received a three-star rating.
  • Jay Street, located between Proctors and City Hall, is a short street 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.

Trivia

  • Schenectady is referenced, or is the setting for many of Kurt Vonnegut's books. Most notably Hocus Pocus and Player Piano.
  • Schenectady's General Electric plant has the ZIP Code 12345.
  • Schenectady is the former home of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2005 the Hall moved to Amsterdam, New York.
  • The world's first commercial TV station, WRGB still broadcasts each day from its Balltown Road studios in Niskayuna, just outside the city line, but still in Schenectady County. WRGB also did the first color television broadcast, which gave the station its name ("RGB" stands for red, green, and blue).
  • 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. Immediate protests and disagreements arose from the population for the contrived lyrics and style of the song as well as the heavy handed way the city council adopted it without input. 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 January 31, 1995 p. B1

  • The notable sleep-talker Dion McGregor had a dream (the audio recorded by his roommate) in which he was a member of a Dorothy Lamour fanclub purchasing sixteen train tickets to Schenectady.

Notable residents

References

External links

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