Schenectady (skənĕkˈtədē) [key], city (1990 pop. 65,566), seat of Schenectady co., E central N.Y., on the Mohawk River and Erie Canal; founded 1661 by Arent Van Curler, inc. 1798. The General Electric Company was established there in 1892, but its presence waned in the late 20th cent. and the city's population declined by a third. Several other companies manufacture electrical equipment, and the production of gas turbines is important.
Early destroyed (1690) in a Native American attack, the village grew again, prospering as a stopping place for traders and settlers traveling W on the Mohawk River. Growth was particularly spurred by the opening (1820s) of the Erie Canal and the building (1830s) of the railroads. Locomotive manufacturing, begun in 1848, was long an important industry.
Schenectady is the seat of Union College, founded in 1795. The former home and laboratory of Charles P. Steinmetz are a science museum. Notable among Schenectady's historic buildings are the homes in the old stockade area, which date from the early 1700s.