The Compelling History of Schenectady, NY
At first glance the name Schenectady seems complex and hard to pronounce, but if you take just a moment to say it, it’s not hard at all. It makes sense, it’s simple and charming. This city in New York is just that. Simple and charming. The NY city has a population similar to any large college campus in the U.S. of 60,000 to 70,000.
This small city packs a historical punch, however. Schendectady, NY has been around since the late 1700s and it has a rich history of Native American roots and European settlements.
The Name Schendectady
The name of Schenectady is said to be derived from the word “skahnéhtati,” which means “beyond the pines” in the Mohawk dialect. History tells us that this town was settled by the Dutch, which explains some of the names of surrounding area today, including Rotterdam in New York. Rotterdam is still a popular city in the Netherlands today.
Settlers and Natives
The early history of the town of Schenectady includes Dutch settlers, but also the history of Native Americans living in the area at the time of the settlement. The Algonquin and the Iroquois were the two main families. These two families later formed a conglomerate of tribes which included the famous Mohawks. Mohawks were some of the most powerful Natives Americans of the region, known for their famous haircuts, beautiful beadwork, masks and violent fighting style.
Early Dutch History
In the early 1600s, the Dutch West India company came to the area of Schenectady, NY for the purposes of trade. The Dutch were here at first for this purpose, but later decided to root more permanent settlements to encourage colonization. This compelling offer had many Dutchmen purchasing land, one of which was Killian Van Rensselaer.
Van Rensselaer acquired many acres of land, including what’s known today as Albany and parts of Rensselaer and Columbia counties. History tells us that when he passed away, his son, Van Curler inherited the land.
The Township of Schenectady
After different tribulations, Schenectady was finally a patented township in the 1680s, and given the official term of “borough” of New York in the 1760s. As a city, it was incorporated a few years later, just before the turn of the century in 1798.
Fighting for Schenectady
The town went under attack various times throughout history. Amongst the attackers, the French, allied with the natives, were the authors of the most notable of these attacks known as “The Schenectady Massacre.” During this time, the French allied themselves with the natives of the land to kill and capture the people of the city. This massacre occurred in retaliation for what the attackers believed were wrongdoings against their people and trade.
After the attacks, Schenectady slowly recovered and became a city of transport with different railways connecting into the town. The industrious aspect of this city speaks of its recovery and desire to overcome. Today, the city is a center of distribution and manufacturing. Home to thriving local businesses, this city keeps its small-town feel, while valuing a growing economy.
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