Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co. Inc.
Edition of
The Old Mohawk-Turnpike Book

The General Electric Company.
A view of the buildings standing around the square
at the main gate.

   

From Schenectady to Rome.

SCHENECTADY.

  
(Schenectady County)
(By N. Y. C. R. R., N. Y., 160 m.; Buff., 279 m. Pop., 1920, 88,723; 1910, 72,826.
Elevation above sea level, 211 ft.)

  

Schenectady Mileage Distances, Mohawk Turnpike and New York-Buffalo Highway.

Eastward, Albany 15 m., Cohoes 14 m., Troy 15 m., Watervliet 19 m., Rensselaer 17 m., New York 164 m.

Westward, Hoffmans Ferry 9 m., Amsterdam 16 m., Fort Johnson 18 m., Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter 21 m., (detour to Auriesville Shrine 23 m.); Fonda-Fultonville 27 m., (detour to Johnstown 31 m., Gloversville 35 m.) ; Yosts (Noses) 33 m., Sprakers 36 m., Canajoharie-Palatine Bridge 39 m., (detour to Stone Arabia churches 43 m.) ; Fort Plain-Nelliston 42 m., Palatine Church 45 m., St. Johnsville 48 m., (detour to Gen. Herkimer Homestead 56 m.) ; East Creek 51 m., Fink's Basin Bridge (Fall Hill) 56 m., Little Falls 58 m., Herkimer 65 m., Mohawk 66 m., (detour to Fort Herkimer church, east, 68 m.) ; Ilion 68 m., Frankfort 70 m., Utica 80 m., Whitesboro 84 m., Oriskany 87 m., Oriskany Battlefield Monument 89 m., Rome 95 m., Syracuse 131 m., Rochester 228 m., Buffalo, 289 m.

  

The next most important point west is Amsterdam, 16 m.; east, Albany, 15 m.

The automobile run from Albany to Schenectady is 15 m. northwest over the Albany Turnpike while that from Troy, 15 m., is over the old River road. Both form parts of the Mohawk valley highway system.

  

The World's Electrical Manufacturing Center.

Schenectady, the electric city of America, is a town of great historic interest and the scene of the first white settlement in the Mohawk valley (by Holland Dutch in 1661-2). It is a railroad, Barge canal and automobile traffic center and one of the important manufacturing cities of the eastern United States, with great locomotive works and the largest electrical works in the world. It is the seat of Union College (founded 1795).

Schenectady's slogan is "Schenectady lights and hauls the world."

  

Schenectady, Industrial, Commercial and Transportation.

Schenectady is the county seat of Schenectady county, incorporated as a city in 1798. In 1910, 31 per cent of the population was of foreign parentage and 26 per cent of foreign birth, the peoples of southern and eastern Europe predominating. The city is situated on the south side of the Mohawk river, on the New York Central and the Delaware and Hudson railroads. The West Shore railroad is at South Schenectady, a few miles distant, and the Boston & Maine railroad is at Scotia, which is situated on the north side of the Mohawk directly opposite Schenectady and which is industrially, commercially and socially an integral part of the city. Within a radius of 20 miles of Schenectady are situated Albany, Troy, Amsterdam, Saratoga Springs, Ballston and numerous small communities, which afford Schenectady an excellent labor market. Trolley systems connect with the above named cities and villages. The most important manufactures by far are electrical apparatus and locomotives. Printing and the manufacture of paper goods and wood products employ upward of 100 workers each. In 1909 Schenectady had 134 factories, with 17,728 operatives, producing an annual output valued at $38,000,000. Schenectady city has sewers, electric lighting service, municipal water works, Ellis hospital, an orphan asylum and a street railway operating about 36 miles of track. Schenectady is an important trading center for a large section roundabout.

Motor buses operating from all Mohawk river towns will be found listed under each town in the Summary at the front of this book. See those for Schenectady.

Industries in Schenectady, in 1912, employing over 1,000 operatives, were: General Electric Works, 17,065; Schenectady Locomotive Works, 3,332; 1920, General Electric Co., 21,086; Schenectady Locomotive Works, 2,611.

Highway and railroad bridges connect with the north bank of the Mohawk river. There is a Barge canal terminal dock at Schenectady.

In 1919 Schenectady had 131 factories, with 114,102 primary horsepower, capital of $102,121,000, 21,062 workers receiving $38,527,000 annually and a total yearly manufactured production of $106,531,000. (1920 Census report.)

The 1920 U.S. Census figures on the above subjects are herein given for Mohawk valley cities and towns of over 10,000, which in 1920 were, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Johnstown, Gloversville, Little Falls, Herkimer, Ilion, Utica, Rome. The U.S. Census does not give such figures for lesser villages and the 1913 report of the New York State Labor Dept. figures for villages given herein are the latest available statistics for villages under 10,000.

Schenectady has a municipal aviation field. The Barge canal, through the Mohawk valley, affords a continuous landing place for hydroplanes.

  

Schenectady's Population.

Schenectady population at different years has been as follows: 1769, city, 300 houses, about 2,000 population, township about 3,500; county about 4,000; 1820, 3,930 (largest town in Mohawk valley); 1830, 4,268; 1840, 6,784; 1850, 8,921; 1880, 13,655; 1890, 19,902; 1900, 31,682; 1910, 72,826; 1920, 88,723; 1920, Schenectady and Scotia, combined, 93,081; 1924 population, with suburbs, is 100,000 or more.

Schenectady is the fourth city of over 50,000 on the New York-Buffalo route going west. Its growth in the last few decades has been rapid. This is due to increasing importance of the electrical industry and the growth of the General Electric Company.

  

Schenectady-Albany-Troy Civic District.

Schenectady lies at the western apex of the triangle formed by the Albany-Troy Schenectady group of cities. Albany lies at the southeastern apex and Troy is at the northeastern. This triangle is about seven miles long on its eastern side and about seventeen on its northern and southern sides. It forms now (1924) a metropolitan district of 350,000 population and eventually may contain, as its ultimate population, 2,000,000 people, with 1,000,000 in Schenectady.

See the Albany-Troy-Schenectady metropolitan district in the map of the Six Mohawk Valley Counties on the preceding pages.

The Mohawk Golf club is about one mile from the city limits, on the Troy road. The famous "Schenectady putter" was the invention of a local golfer.

  

The General Electric Company.

The great works of the General Electric company are seen on the west of the New York Central tracks and somewhat west of the city station. In the great future which is before industrial electricity Schenectady will play a most important part. Not only are electrical machinery and appliances here made in great quantities but constant important experimental work is going on. The General Electric Company has important factories elsewhere but the Schenectady works are by far the largest. The company did a great amount of war work for the Allies and the U.S. Government in the Great war.

The General Electric Works of Schenectady in 1924 employed more operatives than any other manufacturing enterprise in New York State. The highest number employed in any year up to this date has been 26,000. It is the largest electric works in the world and one of the country's largest industries.

The Edison Electric Company was formed in 1878 and, prior to its removal to Schenectady in 1886, was located on Goerck street, New York city. In 1889, this company was merged into the Edison General Electric Co., which, in 1892, was consolidated with the Thomson-Houston Electric Co. of Lynn, Mass., the new organization being known as the General Electric Co., the growth of which, especially after 1900, was very rapid. The General Electric Co. has now (1921) at Schenectady, 301 buildings with 523 acres of ground and 11 miles of narrow gauge electric railroad tracks. It has (1921) 128 acres of factory floor space.

In 1922 the General Electric Co. had factories in 42 cities of America in which 71,000 people were employed. The manufactured product was $30,000,000 in 1892 and $230,000,000 in 1922. The export product of these factories is handled by the International General Electric Co.

When the Edison Company located here it was not a large concern but, with the growth of electrical industry, its development was remarkable. Since 1886 the growth of Schenectady has been coincidental with that of "G. E."

  

W. G. Y.

Artificial lightning was produced in 1922 in the G. E. laboratories by Steinmetz. The G. E. is a (1924) center of radio apparatus manufacture and one of America's chief broadcasting stations, "W. G. Y."

  

Schenectady Locomotive Industry.

In 1845 the manufacture of locomotives was begun at Schenectady and in 1912 the American Locomotive Company had 3,332 employees.

In 1914 this industry was housed in 44 buildings on 65 acres of ground.

Other factories at Dunkirk, N.Y.; Richmond, Va.; Paterson, N.J.; Montreal, Can.; Pittsburgh and Chester, Pa.

  

Adirondack Power and Light Corporation.

The Mohawk valley is the route of one of the country's main lines of high tension electric power transmission. The Adirondack Power and Light Corporation, with its main office at Schenectady, supplies to the eastern half of the Mohawk valley power derived from its hydro-electric development in the middle Mohawk and upper Hudson valleys and from its auxiliary steam power plant east of Amsterdam.

  

Schenectady Railways Co.

The Schenectady Railways Co. operates electric trolley cars eastward to Albany and Troy, northward to Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs and westward through the Mohawk valley, to Amsterdam, Fort Johnson, Tribes Hill, Johnstown, Gloversville, Fonda and many minor intermediate points.

  

Railroad and Highways Connections.

Railroad connection is made at Schenectady with points west to Binghamton (including Cooperstown and Sharon Springs) over the Delaware & Hudson R.R. At Scotia (a suburb on the north shore of the Mohawk, pop. 4,358), is a station of the Boston & Maine R.R., which gives railroad access to Boston and all points in New England. Railroad connection is had with points north - Ballston, Saratoga Springs, Saratoga lake, Lake George, the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain and Montreal. Automobile roads radiate from Schenectady to all these foregoing points. At Schenectady an automobile route leads into the valley of the Schoharie river, which enters the Mohawk, 20 miles westward at Fort Hunter. Schenectady and Albany are the eastern gateways to the Schoharie region, while Canajoharie is the gateway from the middle Mohawk river section.

  

Schenectady - Situation and Geography.

The situation of the world's chief electrical manufacturing center is very picturesque and well adapted to the location of a great city, which Schenectady promises to be. To the southwest lie the Helderbergs across the broad flats of the Normanskill, emptying into the Hudson below Albany. In past geological time, the channel of the Normanskill was evidently, at one period, that of the Mohawk river and its outlet from near Schenectady to the Hudson at Albany. Schenectady lies on the edge of a delta formation, produced by glacial and river water action in conjunction with the sea-level waters of the Hudson. This delta comprises the Sand Flats between Albany and Schenectady. Northwest of Schenectady lie the broad Schenectady flatlands with Yantapuchaberg on the south and Touareuna on the north of the river. Here, at Schenectady, the Mohawk expands into a wide stream, intersected by several islands, with four river channels, the southernmost of which was the harbor for river traffic and was called the Binnekill by the Dutch pioneers.

The most recent ship canal survey (from Oswego through Oneida lake and the Mohawk river to Albany) has been run from the Mohawk to South Schenectady, thence by the channel of the Normanskill to the Hudson at Albany - the old Mohawk river channel.

The surface rocks of the Schenectady neighborhood are of lower Silurian Hudson river shale. Stone quarries are here located.

The elevation of the Mohawk at Schenectady is 211 feet above the sea level of the waters of the Hudson at Albany. The highest Schenectady city elevation above the Mohawk river is 260 feet in the northeastern section - 471 feet above the sea. Sea level elevations in this book refer to the lowest water levels in the cities and villages mentioned.

  

The Lower Mohawk.

Schenectady is attractively situated on a ten-mile stretch of the canalized Mohawk, the 211 ft. level extending from Visscher's Ferry about 8 miles east of Schenectady (turning a great bend of the Mohawk) to Dam. No. 4, west of Scotia, about 2-1/2 m. from Schenectady. This long lake-like river affords splendid boating and bathing facilities and suggests a great regatta course. It is being lined with Summer and permanent cottages. The 22-miles river stretch east of Schenectady is a picturesque section, with great Barge canal constructions at Visscher's Ferry, Crescent and Waterford.

Riverside Park is an attractive boating and recreation municipal park development of Schenectady, located just below the old highway bridge.

  

Abraham Yates House, 1710.
At 109 Union street.  Probably the oldest house 
in the city and a typical Schenectady Dutch house
of the period.

Schenectady's Historic Buildings.

The little county of Schenectady probably contains more houses built in Colonial days, than any other similar small area in the United States.

Revolutionary raids destroyed a great part of the houses in the Mohawk valley to the westward, but did not penetrate Schenectady as they feared to enter too deeply into American territory. One or two of Schenectady county's farm houses may even date back to the days of Dutch rule. Among the pre-Revolutionary houses of the city of Schenectady are the following, with dates of erection where known: James Rosa house, 14 Church street; Abraham Yates house (1710), 109 Union street, a fine example of the Schenectady Dutch house; Governor Yates house (1735), 17 Front Street; D. D. Campbell house (1762), State and Church Sts.; John Glen house (where Washington was entertained in1775), 59 Washington Ave.; David Hearsay house, 1 Washington Ave.; Christopher Yates house, 26 Front St.; St. George's Episcopal church; Vrooman house, 1752; Abraham Fonda house, 1752.

Robert Sanders house, 43 Washington Ave. (built about 1750), where Washington took tea in 1775. The Judge Paige house (built about 1799) is a handsome Schenectady Dutch house of the later construction, where many famous men of the early nineteenth century were entertained, including Lafayette on his visit to America in 1825.

Other Schenectady county colonial buildings are: Van Guysling house, Rotterdam (said to have been built in 1664); Jan Mabie house, Rotterdam (1670); Johannes Peek house (1711); Glen Sanders house, Scotia (1713); Toll house, Glenville (1720); Abraham Glen house, Scotia (1730); Arent Bradt house, Rotterdam (1736); Schermerhorn house; Gen. North house, Duanesburg; Judge Jas. Duane house, Duanesburg; Stevens house (1693), Ael Place.

The Sanders, Mabie and Schermerhorn houses have been in the same family ownership for two centuries. The Adam Vrooman house stood for two centuries near the Brandywine mill until destroyed about 1900. Judge James Duane was the first American mayor of New York city after the British evacuation in 1783.

Schenectady has a monument to the soldiers of the Revolution in Vale cemetery (where many lie buried), and the following monuments and statues: Hiker (Spanish war soldier) statue in Central Park, Soldiers' and Sailors' (Civil war) and World war in Crescent Park.

  

St. George's Church, Schenectady, 1762.
St. George's Church is the oldest church in the
Mohawk Valley and the fourth oldest in
New York state.

St. George's Episcopal Church, 1762.

This church was organized as a society in 1735 and met for a period in the Dutch church, through the courtesy of that organization. The foundation of the present church edifice was laid in 1759, by the Rev. Henry Barclay, rector. Sir William Johnson was a liberal contributor toward its erection and had a pew with a canopy set aside for his particular use. The building was completed in 1762, and it is the second oldest Episcopal church now standing in New York State, being antedated only by the Fishkill (Beacon) Episcopal church, built in 1761.

Although St. George's date of completion is given as 1762, it was reported to "be finishing" in 1769.

St. George's is the fourth oldest church in New York State and the oldest church structure in the Mohawk valley. The Sleepy Hollow (Tarrytown) Reformed church (built before 1699), the Fishkill Reformed (1760), Fishkill Episcopal (1761) and St. George's (1762) rank in the order named in point of age.

During the Revolution its rector, the Rev. Mr. Stuart, was a Royalist and was sent within the British lines, and the building was used for a period as a barracks by the Continental troops.

The church has been enlarged to about four times the size of the original structure, which, however, has been left unchanged. St. George's is an attractive example of Colonial architecture.

St. George's church, with its old graveyard, is one of Schenectady's most picturesque Colonial features. (See Hanson's "St. George's Church.")

  

Union University - 1795-1924.

The buildings of the college of Union university are opposite the junction of Union street and Nott terrace. Some are quaintly ancient while many important new ones have been added. In 1779 a petition addressed to the New York Legislature, by citizens of the upper Hudson and Mohawk valleys, asking for the establishment of a Collegiate school at Schenectady, was denied by that body, probably on account of the stress of Revolutionary times.

In 1785 Schenectady Academy was founded as a union of Christian denominations, and hence the later name. The Reformed Dutch church of Schenectady raised the funds for and erected the first Academy building. On Feb. 25, 1795, this academy was chartered as Union college. Union grew in attendance and favor until the Civil war, when it suffered a setback from loss of southern attendance and of northern student volunteers. A company of Union students was formed under Elias Peissner, Union professor of modern languages. Col. Peissner was killed at Chancellorsville and many students were killed in the war. In 1872, Albany Law School, Albany Medical College and the Dudley Observatory (Albany) united with Union college to form Union University. In 1881 the Albany College of Pharmacy became an added department. Union was a pioneer in progressive educational methods. It was the first non-sectarian American college, the first to introduce modern languages and scientific courses, first to establish a school of civil engineering (1845) and first to establish a course in electrical engineering (1895). In 1900 Union had 21 faculty and 192 student members. In 1918 Union College had 46 teachers, 145 students in U. S. service and 657 students attending; in 1920, 45 instructors, 600 students and total graduates numbering 5,900.

The Schenectady Academy first occupied a four-room, two-story building at State and Church streets. The brick Academy building (built after 1785) stood at the corner of Union and Ferry streets, and became the home and property of Union College in 1796, and used by the college until 1804.

The present old Union College buildings were erected in 1813 from plans drawn by Joseph Jacques Ramee, a noted French architect. Kappa Alpha, oldest of college fraternities, was here organized in 1825. Among the noted sons of Union are John Howard Payne, author of "Home, Sweet Home;" President Chester A. Arthur; Hawley, father of the modern school system; Gen. Halleck, Union commander-in-chief, 1863-4; Gen. Toombs of the Confederate army; William H. Seward, Secretary of State in Lincoln's Cabinet - and many others.

Union College has had a long list of notable college presidents and professors. Dr. Eliphalet Nott was president from 1804 to 1866,a period of 62 years, probably the longest American college presidency on record. Jonathan Pearson, the historian and author of "The Schenectady Patent," was a professor of Union.

Union University is rapidly growing and developing in all branches.

In 1923 the General Electric Co. contributed $75,000 to Union College for the endowment of a physical laboratory.

  

Schenectady Historical Society.

The Schenectady Historical Society, 13 Union street, has important Colonial and Revolutionary collections and should be visited by the tourist.

Here is one of the oldest Revolutionary flags, the "Liberty Flag" of the Albany City Sons of Liberty, formed in 1766. It was carried by the First New York Line Regiment (largely from Schenectady) in 1776 and 1777 during the Revolution.

The society has an interesting exhibit of early electrical appliances given by the General Electric Co.

The Schenectady Historical Society, the Schenectady Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution; Col. Cornelius Van Dyck Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution are all affiliated with the Mohawk Valley Historic Association, concerning which (and the other societies) information may be had at the Historical Society.

  

Schenectady and Schenectady County.

Schenectady county formed the Schenectady district, borough or township of Albany county from 1688 until 1808, when it was set off as a separate county.

Schenectady is the county seat for Schenectady county, which, outside of Greater New York city, is next to the smallest county (Rockland) in the State. It has an area of 132,000 acres. Population, 1910, 88,235; 1920, 109,363. Aside from Schenectady, the county is devoted to agriculture and dairying. It lies in the Mohawk and Hudson river watersheds. Schenectady county had a population of 7,134 in 1814.

Schenectady county's 1840 population was 17,387.

Schenectady county's 1920 population, outside of the Schenectady city limits, was 20,640, much of it adjacent to the city.

Albany and Schenectady counties hold a joint counties fair at Altamont, Albany county, in September.

  

St. George's Lodge, No. 6, F. and A.M., 1774.

St. George's Masonic lodge, of Schenectady, received its warrant from Sir John Johnson, the last Provincial Grand Master of the Province of New York, in the year 1774, and its charter from the Grand Lodge of England, constituting the lodge as "St. George's Lodge, No. One, in the Township of Schenectady," is dated September 14, 1774. Under this old English charter the lodge worked until 1822, when it received its first charter from the Grand Lodge of New York, being the last of the "Old Lodges" to surrender its old warrant. It has had a continuous and consecutive existence since 1774.

The lodge met regularly during the Revolution - being one of four lodges active in New York during that war. It meetings were attended by many of the officers of the Continental army, a number of whom were made Masons in the lodge. Of its own members 78 out of the 150 carried on its rolls, from 1774 to 1800, served during the Revolution.

The later history of the lodge is equally interesting. During the World war 74 of its members saw service, all but 13 of the number "overseas" - not counting five Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. workers with the A. E. F. Its membership (January 1, 1921) is 1,005.

In 1924 St. George's celebrated its 150th anniversary.

For historical works on Schenectady see Pearson's "Schenectady Patent;" Monroe's "Schenectady, Ancient and Modern;" Robert's "Old Schenectady," etc.

  

Schenectady - Historical.

The history of Schenectady is most important, in that it is largely that of the Mohawk valley, of which it was the pioneer settlement. To know the Turnpike section of the valley westward it is necessary to be familiar with the following condensed story of Schenectady:

The city's history is so important in relation to New York State and America and is so varied and extensive, that only a brief condensation can be here given. Its later industrial history is as impressive as its earlier pioneer, military and political record. Schenectady had many men who bore an important part in the formative period of New York province and State, during the Colonial, Revolutionary and post-revolutionary periods.

The Mohawk valley formed part of Albany county (1683) until the county of Tryon (west of Hoffman's) was set off in 1772.

The Schenectady district (present county) was a part of Albany county from 1683 until 1808 when the county of Schenectady was formed.

Schenectady is the only town in the Mohawk valley, the settlement (1662) of which dates back to the days of Holland Dutch rule (!614 - 1664) in New York. It is the fourth oldest (1798) city in the state, being antedated by New York (1652), Albany (1686), and Hudson (1785).

When settled in 1662, Schenectady was a part of New Netherland, a province of Holland - or Novi Belgii (New Belgium), as its official seal read.

  

Schon-o-we, "Great Flats."

The Mohawk name for the flats here was Schon-o-we, meaning "great flatlands." There was no Indian village at Schenectady. See Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter (21 m. west), Auriesville (23 m. west) and Fonda (27 m. west) for Mohawk Indian history.

Schonowe formed one of the chief cornlands of the Mohawks. It was the Groote Vlachte or "great flat" of the Hollanders. Part of it was also known as the Bouwland or "farm land."

  

Continued, on to Schenectady, part II

  

  

      

Return To Main Index

 

Fulton County NYGenWeb Herkimer/Montgomery NYGenWeb

   

Copyright 2002
Fulton County NYGenWeb
Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb
All Rights Reserved.