Stockade Historic District is the oldest neighborhood
Schenectady and may very well be the oldest, unspoiled residential neighborhood in the country. It is home to what the
National Parks Service called "the highest concentration of historic period homes in the
country," with over a 40 homes in excess of 200 years in age.
in 1661 by a group of enterprising Dutch merchants and fur-traders, the settlement flourished until 1690 when a party of French-Canadian and Indian
marauders burnt the stockaded village to the ground,
massacred most of its inhabitants and marched 27
prisoners back to Quebec. Native Mohawks, including "Lawrence the Indian," encouraged the hearty Dutch to resettle; by 1692, the Stockade area
was once again a flourishing fur-trading outpost and a thriving industrial and commercial center marked by sturdy homes and churches of local
merchants, laborers and farmers of Dutch, English, and Scots heritage.
The stockade saw one of the first calls for
liberty in 1765 and was the area's center for the Committees
Safety. During the revolution we became a crucial link in the line of supplies for the Revolutionary effort providing provisions, bateaux and arms to
the continental army.
Washington visited several times during and after the Revolutionary War.
Union College can trace its beginnings to 1779, when several hundred residents of upstate New York
began the first popular demand for higher education in America. These residents pursued that dream for 16 years until, in 1795, Union became the
first college chartered by the Regents of the State of New York. Originally located in the Stockade Historic District, the college moved
to its present location in 1814. Designed by the renowned classical landscape
Joseph Jacques Ramee,
was the first planned campus in America predating the famous University of
Virginia designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1817-22. Since its inception, the college has been recognized as a national, even international, leader
in non-denominational, liberal arts education.
The 18th Century brought prosperity to the area. Many businesses, warehouses and wharves were built along the BinneKill to service the
traffic which moved up and down the Mohawk River.
Durham boat (a.k.a. "Schenectady Boat") was used in New
York State between 1790 and the opening of the Erie Canal (1825), and was the first type of canal boat used .
In 1819 a devastating fire destroyed most of these establishments along with a number of houses on nearby Washington Avenue. A total of
200 buildings were lost.
Artistic interpretation of what Schenectady's harbor may have looked like during the building of the Erie Canal by twentieth century artist
Len Tantillo. (Used with permission of the artist.)
The description of the properties lost from contemporary newspapers inspired L. F.Tantillo's painting "Schenectady
As a result of the fire, the business district relocated from the Stockade area to State Street which was nearer the new
Erie Canal. This left the Stockade area mainly residential, and probably saved it
from being demolished in the name of progress.
The old Burr Bridge looking toward the Stockade district of Schenectady from the
Scotia side. Popular lithograph print, circa 1871.
In the 1940's and 1950's, following a period of decline, residents became increasingly aware of the uniqueness of the Stockade.
More efforts were expended on preservation and restoration. In 1957, residents organized The Stockade Association and in 1962 the City Council
of Schenectady passed an ordinance establishing The Stockade as historic district -- the first in the State of New York.
The Stockade has been called home by many historical figures from the Schulyer's and Yate's of the late colonial
period, through early twentieth century wizards like Steinmetz and Edison and including many women who were ahead of there time such as
This lithograph, part of the NY State museum's exhibit on the 3 man bateaux was drawn from memory by a nineteenth century artist of the Schenectady
waterfront at it's peak.
In 1973 the State of New York created the Stockade Historic District, the state's first historic district, which was then declared a
historic landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
AMERICAN HISTORY TIMELINE