The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Schenectady

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Schenectady
Edition of 1920. See also Schenectady, New York on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

SCHENECTADY, N. Y., city, county-seat of Schenectady County, on the Mohawk River, new Barge Canal and on the New York Central and Hudson River and the Delaware and Hudson railroads, 16 miles west of Albany. It has connection with the Boston and Maine Railroad at Scotia and with the West Shore Railroad at South Schenectady. Local lines connect the city with Troy, Mechanicville, Saratoga Springs and other nearby places. That part of the city along the bank of the river is the oldest; most of the modern buildings have been erected on the surrounding heights.

Buildings and Municipal Improvements. — The principal public buildings are the post office, county courthouse, municipal buildings, Van Curler Opera House, a State armory, Home of the Friendless, Children's Home, Ellis Hospital, the Young Men's Christian Association building and the church and school buildings. The location, in the Mohawk Valley, is in a fertile agricultural region. The slope to the river is such as to make the natural surface drainage almost sufficient, but a good sewerage system has been introduced. The water is distributed by means of the Holly system.

Manufacturing. — Figures relative to the number employed here show a total of over 26,000. Unlike many other cities all but 2,000 of these are employed in two large industries.

The census of 1914, like that of 1909, with reference to manufactures, excluded the hand trades, the building trades and the neighborhood industries, and took account only of establishments conducted under the factory system. In the last census, also, as in that for 1909, statistics were not collected for establishments having products for the census year valued at less than $500, except that reports were taken for establishments idle during a portion of the census year, or which began operation during that year and whose products for such reason were valued at less than $500. Schenectady is also the headquarters for the General Electric Company and for the American Locomotive Company whose plants in this city alone are employing 24,000.

Summary for the City. — A comparative summary for the city for 1909 and 1914 follows:

Census   Per cent
of increase
1909-1914
1914   1909
Number of establishments 184 134 37.3
Persons engaged in manufactures 21,262 17,728 19.9
Proprietors and firm members 176 120 46.7
Salaried employees 3,380 2,677 26.3
Wage earners (average number) 17,706 14,931 18.6
Primary horse power 61,584 49,181 25.2
Capital $57,383,000 $51,816,000 10.7
Services 17,445,000 13,088,000 33.3
 Salaries 4,633,000 3,086,000 50.1
 Wages 12,812,000 10,002,000 28.1
Materials 22,520,000 21,952,000 2.6
Value of products 48,761,000 38,165,000 27.8
Value added by manufacture
(value of products less cost of materials)
26,241,000 16,213,000 61.8

Churches and Schools. — There are 70 churches, embracing all denominations. The educational institutions are Union University (q.v.), 24 public schools, two parish schools, two business colleges, three private schools, a free public library and the college and high school libraries.

Banking and Finances. — There are two national banks with a combined capital of $200,000, a savings bank with deposits of about $5,500,000 and two trust companies with $500,000 capital and surplus. The annual cost for municipal maintenance and operation is about $850,000.

History. — Schenectady was settled in 1661 by Arent Van Curler, and letters patent were granted in 1684. On 8 Fob. 1690 the place was attacked by a force of French and Indians, who massacred all but 60 of the inhabitants and burned the town. In 1765 it was incorporated as a borough and in 1798 chartered as a town. In 1819 a disastrous fire destroyed nearly all the business portion of the city. Among the early steam railroads in the United States was one from Albany to Schenectady. The water communication by means of the Mohawk, increased by the new Barge Canal and the railroad communication at an early date, all contributed toward making the city a commercial and industrial centre. It has increased steadily in population and industries. Pop. (1880) 13,655; (1890) 19,902; (1900) 31,682; (1910) 72,826; estimated population (1914) 91,000.