The Union Triangle Neighborhood

Victorian home on University Place in the Union Triangle Neighborhood, Schenectady, NYHistory

Before 1880, Schenectady was a small city with buildings and customs borrowed from early Dutch settlers. The Union Triangle area was undeveloped land owned by Union College and Wendell Farm. Then, in 1887, the Edison Machine Works (later called General Electric) launched Schenectady into the Industrial Age.

The Union Triangle was the first neighborhood in Schenectady to feel the effects of the City's expanding industrial development. By 1892, nearly two dozen buildings had sprouted. By 1906 the Union Triangle Neighborhood had burgeoned to more than 150 homes and apartment houses.

Early Residents

From its beginnings, the Union Triangle Neighborhood provided shelter for an unusually diverse population. Unlike the adjoining G.E. Realty Plot, which was developed exclusively for affluent professionals, the Union Triangle drew residents from many walks of life.

Some homeowners were engineers for the new Edison Machine Works (General Electric). Others were superintendents from the locomotive works, store owners, attorneys, and college professors and deans.

These prosperous homeowners lived side-by-side with working-class residents. Household servants often boarded in the homes of their employers. College students, factory workers, and day laborers rented rooms and apartments. The Union Triangle Neighborhood became a microcosm of turn-of-the-century society.

Neighborhood architecture reflects the diversity of the people who lived here. Buildings range from simple two-family houses to elaborate, architect-designed homes. The Union Triangle Neighborhood is unusual in that it contains no geographical separation between costly custom homes and modest rental buildings.

Historic Preservation

In 1989, residents committed to preserving the area's heritage and architecture formed the Union Triangle Neighborhood Association. After a thorough review process, the City of Schenectady granted the Union Triangle Neighborhood status as a locally zoned historic district.

Over the past decade, the Schenectady Heritage Foundation has awarded five homeowners in the Union Triangle for outstanding preservation activities in the Union Triangle Neighborhood.