Connected to the west via the Mohawk River and Erie Canal, the city developed rapidly in the 19th century as part of the Mohawk Valley trade, manufacturing and transportation corridor.
The name "Schenectady" is derived from a Mohawk word skahnéhtati meaning "beyond the pines".
The city was founded on the south side of the Mohawk River by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, many from the Albany area.
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.
The city was part of emerging technologies, with GE collaborating in the production of nuclear-powered submarines and, in the 21st century, working on other forms of renewable energy.