Places to see in Schenectady: The Historical Stockade Area

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By Becca Duffy

It’s no secret that the Union student’s interpretation of Schenectady is not a particularly good one.  I myself am guilty of accompanying my roommates on their grocery trips to the local Wal-Mart for the simple pleasure of observing the Schenectadoid in its natural habitat. It is because these horribly ignorant perceptions of Schenectady exist that this article is being written.  Contrary to popular belief, there are other aspects to our winter-time home besides the bag ladies, deserted GE factory, and occasional shootings.  Schenectady was at one point an American commercial center.  It would be hard for a city with such a reputation to escape the clutches of American culture.

Before writing this article, I only knew the Stockade district of Schenectady from a) shuttling friends to and from the Greyhound station and b) when I became ambitious with my running route.  After an afternoon stroll through the district and extensive Wikipedia research, however, I have developed a slight affection for the area.

When Union was first chartered in 1779, it was located in the Stockade; the old dorms are still standing on College Street.  The area is now a primarily residential district. The National Parks Service says that the Stockade contains “the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country.” Walking through the Stockade, it was like I was tossed through a time warp.  History’s influence is obvious in each building; the styles are inspired by Dutch and English designs. Where there is history, there are always people making up stories.  For the suckers who believe in ghosts and “paranormal activity,” the Stockade is the spot to hit in Schenectady, where stories about ghosts and a haunted elementary school have been passed down through the years. A fun side note, when I was sitting/falling asleep during a lecture on nuclear war in my global politics class, my professor noted that during the Cold War when Schenectady was at it’s height, Schenectady was a prime Soviet target for nukes.

The Stockade Association is a group who’s sole purpose is protecting the Stockade from the onslaught of modern destruction, preserving its history, and publicizing its many stories.  They hold many annual fundraising events right down the block from Union.  The most popular of these gatherings are the Stockade Art Show, the Stockade Soiree, and the Walkabout. The Stockade Art Show was held this year on Sept. 11 and housed works by local artists.  Unfortunately we missed the big party (The Stockade Soiree), which was held on Sept. 12.  Guests were entertained with music and dancing by a live band and left well fed by food supplied by the Van Dyck Restraunt.  Finally, the entertaining and enlightening Stockade Walkabout is a guided historical tour and a realistic archaeological dig.  For more information about the Stockade and its annual neighborhood events, visit http://historicstockade.com/.  You might be surprised when you find yourself leaving campus and headed down the street for a change of pace.

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