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When first encountered by Europeans, the Mohawk Valley was the territory of the Mohawk nation, one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee. They had occupied territory in the region since at least 1100 AD. Starting in the early 1600s the Mohawk moved their settlements closer to the river and by 1629, they had also taken over territories on the west bank of the Hudson River that were formerly held by the Algonquian-speaking Mahican people.
In the 1640s, the Mohawk had three major villages, all on the south side of the Mohawk River. The easternmost one was Ossernenon, located about 9 miles west of present-day Auriesville, New York. When Dutch settlers developed Fort Orange (present-day Albany, New York) in the Hudson Valley beginning in 1614, the Mohawk called their settlement skahnéhtati, meaning "beyond the pines," referring to a large area of pine barrens that lay between the Mohawk settlements and the Hudson River. About 3200 acres of this unique ecosystem are now protected as the Albany Pine Bush. Eventually, this word entered the lexicon of the Dutch settlers. The settlers in Fort Orange used skahnéhtati to refer to the new village at the Mohawk flats (see below), which became known as Schenectady (with a variety of spellings).
In 1661, Arendt van Corlaer, (later Van Curler), a Dutch immigrant, bought a large piece of land on the south side of the Mohawk River. Other colonists were given grants of land by the colonial government in this portion of the flat fertile river valley, as part of New Netherland. The settlers recognized that these bottomlands had been cultivated for maize by the Mohawk for centuries. Van Curler took the largest piece of land; the remainder was divided into 50-acre plots for the other first fourteen proprietors; Alexander Lindsey Glen, Philip Hendrickse Brouwer, Simon Volkertse Veeder, Pieter Adrianne Van Wogglelum, Teunise Cornelise Swart, Bastia De Winter atty for Catalyn De Vos, Gerrit Bancker, William Teller, Pieter Jacobse Borsboom, Pieter Danielle Van Olinda, Jan Barentse Wemp(le), Jacques Cornelise Van Slyck, Marten Cornelise Van Esselstyn, and Harmen Albertse Vedder. As most early colonists were from the Fort Orange area, they may have anticipated working as fur traders, but the Beverwijck (later Albany) traders kept a monopoly of legal control. The settlers here turned to farming. Their 50-acre lots were unique for the colony, "laid out in strips along the Mohawk River", with the narrow edges fronting the river, as in French colonial style. They relied on rearing livestock and wheat. The proprietors and their descendants controlled all the land of the town for generations, essentially acting as government until after the Revolutionary War, when representative government was established.
From the early days of interaction, early Dutch traders in the valley had unions with Mohawk women, if not always official marriages. Their children were raised within the Mohawk community, which had a matrilineal kinship system, considering children born into the mother's clan. Even within Mohawk society, biological fathers played minor roles.
Some mixed-race descendants, such as Jacques Cornelissen Van Slyck and his sister Hilletie van Olinda, who were of Dutch, French and Mohawk ancestry, became interpreters and intermarried with Dutch colonists. They also gained land in the Schenectady settlement. They were among the few métis who seemed to move from Mohawk to Dutch society, as they were described as "former Indians", although they did not always have an easy time of it. In 1661 Jacques inherited what became known as Van Slyck's Island from his brother Marten, who had been given it by the Mohawk. Van Slyck family descendants retained ownership through the 19th century.
Because of labor shortages in the colony, some Dutch settlers brought African slaves to the region. In Schenectady, they used them as farm laborers. The English also imported slaves and continued with agriculture in the river valley. Traders in Albany kept control of the fur trade after the takeover by the English.
In 1664 the English seized the Dutch New Netherland colony and renamed it New York. They confirmed the monopoly on the fur trade by Albany, and issued orders to prohibit Schenectady from the trade through 1670 and later. Settlers purchased additional land from the Mohawk in 1670 and 1672. (Jacques and Hilletie Van Slyck each received portions of land in the Mohawk 1672 deed for Schenectady.) Twenty years later (1684) Governor Thomas Dongan granted letters patent for Schenectady to five additional trustees.
On February 8, 1690, during King William's War, French forces and their Indian allies, mostly Ojibwe and Algonquin warriors, attacked Schenectady by surprise, leaving 62 dead, 11 of them African slaves. American history notes it as the Schenectady massacre. A total of 27 persons were taken captive, including five African slaves; the raiders took their captives overland about 200 miles to Montreal and its associated Mohawk mission village of Kahnawake. Typically the younger captives were adopted by Mohawk families to replace people who had died. Through the early 18th century in the raiding between Quebec and the northern British colonies, some captives were ransomed by their communities. Colonial governments got involved only for high-ranking officers or other officials. In 1748, during King George's War, the French and Indians attacked Schenectady again, killing 70 residents.
In 1765, Schenectady was incorporated as a borough. During the American Revolutionary War the local militia unit, the 2nd Albany County Militia Regiment, fought in the Battle of Saratoga and against Loyalist troops. Most of the warfare in the Mohawk Valley occurred farther west on the frontier in the areas of German Palatine settlement west of Little Falls. Because of their close business and other relationships with the British, some settlers from the city were Loyalists and moved to Canada in the late stages of the Revolution. The Crown granted them land in what became known as Upper Canada and later Ontario.
It was not until after the Revolutionary War that the village residents were successful in reducing the power of descendants of the early trustees and gained representative government. The settlement was chartered as a city in 1798. Long interested in supporting higher education and morals, the members of the City's three oldest churches—the Dutch First Reformed Church, St. Georges Episcopal Church, and First Presbyterian Church—formed a "union" and founded Union College in 1795 under a charter from the state. The school had started in 1785 as Schenectady Academy. This founding was part of the expansion of higher education in upstate New York in the postwar years.
During this period, migrants poured into upstate and western New York from New England, but there were also new immigrants from England and Europe. Many traveled west along the Mohawk River, settling in the western part of the state, where they developed more agriculture on former Iroquois lands. A dairy industry developed in the central part of the state. New settlers were predominantly of English and Scotch-Irish descent. In 1819, Schenectady suffered a fire that destroyed more than 170 buildings and most of its historic, distinctive Dutch-style architecture.
New York had passed a law for gradual abolition of slavery in 1799, but in 1824, there were still a total of 102 slaves in Schenectady County, with nearly half residing in the city. That year the city of Schenectady had a total population of 3939, which included 240 free blacks, 47 slaves, and 91 foreigners.
In the 19th century, after completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, Schenectady became an important transportation, manufacturing and trade center. By 1824 more of its population worked in manufacturing than agriculture or trade. Among the industries was a cotton mill, which processed cotton from the Deep South. It was one of many such mills in upstate whose products were part of the exports shipped out of New York City. The city and state had many economic ties to the South at the same time that some residents became active in the abolitionist movement.
Schenectady benefited by increased traffic connecting the Hudson River to the Mohawk Valley and the Great Lakes to the west and New York City to the south. The Albany and Schenectady Turnpike (now State Street) was constructed in 1797 to connect Albany to settlements in the Mohawk Valley. The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad started operations in 1831 as one of the first railway lines in the United States, connecting the city and Albany by a route through the pine barrens between them. Developers in Schenectady quickly founded the Utica & Schenectady Railroad, chartered in 1833; Schenectady & Susquehanna Railroad, chartered May 5, 1836; and Schenectady & Troy Railroad, chartered in 1836, making Schenectady "the rail hub of America at the time" and competing with the Erie Canal. Commodities from the Great Lakes areas and commercial products were shipped to the East and New York City through the Mohawk Valley and Schenectady.
The last slaves in New York and Schenectady gained freedom in 1827, under the state's gradual abolition law. The law first gave freedom to children born to slave mothers, but they were indentured to the mother's master for a period into their early 20s. Union College established a school for black children in 1805, but discontinued it after two years. Methodists helped educate the children for a time, but public schools did not accept them.
In the 1830s, the abolitionist movement grew in Schenectady. In 1836, Rev. Isaac Groot Duryee (also recorded as Duryea) co-founded the interracial Anti-Slavery Society at Union College and the Anti-Slavery Society of Schenectady in 1837. Freedom seekers were supported via the Underground Railroad route that ran through the area, passing to the west and north to Canada, which had abolished slavery.
In 1837 Duryee, together with other free people of color, co-founded the First Free Church of Schenectady (now the Duryee Memorial AME Zion Church). He also started a school for students of color. The abolitionist Theodore S. Wright, an African-American minister based in New York City, spoke at the dedication of the church and praised the school.
Through the late 19th century, new industries were established in the Mohawk Valley and powered by the river. Industrial jobs attracted many new immigrants, first from Ireland, and later in the century from Italy and Poland. In 1887, Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works to Schenectady. In 1892, Schenectady became the headquarters of the General Electric Company. This business became a major industrial and economic force and helped establish the city and region as a national manufacturing center. GE became important nationally as a creative company, expanding into many different fields. American Locomotive Company also developed here, from a Schenectady company, and merging several smaller companies in 1901; it was second in the United States in the manufacture of steam locomotives before developing diesel technology.
Like other industrial cities in the Mohawk Valley, in the early 20th century, Schenectady attracted many new immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, as they could fill many of the new industrial jobs. It also attracted African Americans as part of the Great Migration out of the rural South to northern cities for work. General Electric and American Locomotive Company (ALCO) were industrial powerhouses, influencing innovation in a variety of fields across the country.
Schenectady is home to WGY, the second commercial radio station in the United States, (after WBZ in Springfield, Massachusetts, which was named for Westinghouse.) WGY was named for its owner, General Electric (the G), and the city of Schenectady (the Y). In 1928, General Electric produced the first regular television broadcasts in the United States, when the experimental station W2XB began regular broadcasts on Thursday and Friday afternoons. This television station is now WRGB; for years it was the Capital District's NBC affiliate, but has been the area's CBS affiliate since 1981.
The city reached its peak of population in 1930. The Great Depression caused a loss of jobs and population in its wake. In the postwar period after World War II, some residents moved to newer housing in suburban locations outside the city. In addition, General Electric established some high-tech facilities in the neighboring town of Niskayuna, which contributed to continuing population growth in the county. In the latter part of the 20th century, Schenectady suffered from the massive industrial and corporate restructuring that affected much of the US, including in the railroads. It lost many jobs and population to other locations, including offshore. Since the late 20th century, it has been shaping a new economy, based in part on renewable energy. Its population increased from 2000 to 2010.
In the census of 2010, there were 66,135 people, 26,265 (2000 data) households, and 14,051 (2000 data) families residing in the city. The population density was 6,096.7 people per square mile (2,199.9/km2). There were 30,272 (2000 data) housing units at an average density of 2,790.6 per square mile (1,077.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 59.38% (52.31% Non-Hispanic) (7.07 White-Hispanic) White, 24.19% African American, 14.47% Hispanic or Latin of any race, 8.24% from other races, 5.74% from two or more races, 2.62% Asian American, 0.69% Native American, and 0.14% Pacific Islander. There is a growing Guyanese population in the area. The top ancestries self-identified by people on the census are Italian (13.6%), Guyanese (12.3%), Irish (12.1%), Puerto Rican (10.1%), German (8.7%), English (6.0%), Polish (5.4%), French (4.4%). These reflect historic and early 20th-century immigration, as well as that since the late 20th century.
The Schenectady City School District is very diverse; (71%- 2011)(80%–2013) of district students receive free or reduced lunch. The student population of the school district is majority minority: 35% Black (48% Graduate), 32% White (71% Graduate), 18% Hispanic (51% Graduate), 15% Asian (68% Graduate). As of 2016, the graduation rate for the high school was 56%.
Using 2010 data, there were 28,264 households, out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.0% were married couples living together, 24.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.5% were non-families. 38.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% 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 year 2010 population was spread out, with 26.3% under the age of 18, 13.6% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 7.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city in 2000 was $29,378 (2010–$37,436), and the median income for a family was $41,158. Males had a median income of $32,929 versus $26,856 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,076. About 20.2% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.5% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
The largest religious body is the Catholic church with 44,000 adherents, followed by Islam with 6,000 followers. The third largest religious body is the Reformed Church in America with 3,600 members. The fourth is the United Methodist denomination with 2,800 members.
Notable congregations are the First Presbyterian Church (Schenectady, New York) which is affiliated with the PCA, First Reformed Church RCA is formed in the 17th century, one of the oldest churches in the town. St George's Episcopal Church dates back to 1735; it shared facilities with the Presbyterians more than 30 years .
About New York
New York is a city that is divided into five boroughs namely, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island. These are some of the most densely populated cities in the United States of America. Each borough of New York is responsible for maintaining and preserving its own historical legacies. Demographics of New York City provide interesting details about the history and development of this city.
New York City comprises five boroughs sitting beside the Hudson River, which is its primary bay. In its center is Manhattan, a highly populated borough which is among the world's major commercial, financial and political centers. Its iconic sites are skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and wide sweeping Central Park. Broadway shows off the best of Broadway with musicals and plays showcasing all the best aspects of human life. Movie lovers can view all their favorite movies along with great shows in movie theaters at New York's Times Square and Hollywood.
But New York's crowning glory is its cultural diversity. It has an amazing assortment of neighborhoods that showcase every facet of New York City. From the very hip East Village to the quiet neighborhoods of Ridgeway and Williamsburg, the cultural diversity of New York City is simply mind blowing. Some of the most famous neighborhoods of New York City are Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, and Greenwich Village.
If you're looking for a cheaper place to live, then New York City might not be your first choice. However, if you look hard enough, you will find some wonderful places in New York City that are affordable. One of the areas that has recently been booming with development is the Lower Cost Housing Units. The Brooklyn Bridge Park has brought a lot of attention to this part of Brooklyn, as well as other Brooklyn housing developments such as Jay Street and Williamsburg. With a lot of new loft conversions and new home starts, the neighborhoods in Brooklyn have really just started to pop up.
There are also five boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The boroughs each have their own unique style, and some of the most popular neighborhoods of New York City include Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. Each borough has a unique style, but a common thing that every borough shares is a very diverse climate.
The weather in New York City can be compared to the great deserts of the Middle East. You can expect to get hot in the summer and cold in the winter. If you are looking to experience New York to the fullest, then head out to the five boroughs of New York City. This will give you a complete tour of the entire city. If you live in New York, you can take a New York tour bus and soak in the culture of this interesting place.
Living in Brooklyn is quite unique. The rich cultural life of this borough is highlighted by its multi-cultural neighborhoods. Many of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn boast a brownstone's lifestyle, while others have hip condos and apartments with white picket fences. If you are looking for a comfortable place to raise a family, a one-bedroom apartment in a hip neighborhood of Brooklyn is for you.
If you are looking for a more cultural experience in New York, head out to the southern tip of the island. Here, you can enjoy the hip culture of the hip hop scene and shopping at its best. On the west side of the island, you can enjoy the beautiful waterfronts of New York. The best thing about the west side of New York is that it has little to do with the city's downtown subway system. You can enjoy a nice lunch on your balcony or walk down to the ferry to go downtown. So, if you are looking for a place with a little bit more cultural experience, make your way to the Brooklyn New York state.