Schenectady County (population 146,555) was first settled in the mid-17th century. Dutch colonists founded the city of Schenectady in 1661, making it one of the oldest cities in the United States. A pioneer outpost, the original settlement was constructed within a stockade. Today’s Stockade Historic District features homes from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Important to the county’s development was its proximity to the Mohawk River, which serves as a gateway to western New York. Construction of the Erie Canal along the river in the 19th century attracted waves of settlers and spread the Industrial Revolution down the valley. Schenectady County became prominent in the locomotive manufacturing industry. Also, Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works, which would later be known as General Electric, to the city of Schenectady in 1887.
Schenectady County retains a wealth of historic resources and recently created a Historical Preservation Advisory Board to help further the many preservation efforts already underway. The Commission is currently working to review and update the county’s inventory of historic resources.
A recent county-sponsored preservation project involves rehabilitation of the Gillette House (1840) and adjoining Millington House. Grace House is known for its last owner, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Gillette, the first female physician in the city of Schenectady. The buildings will soon house the Chamber of Schenectady County and the Schenectady Heritage Area Visitor Center.
Schenectady County participates in the heritage tourism initiatives of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor. Parts of the county are also included along the New York State-designated Mowhawk Towpath Byway and Revolutionary Byway.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.