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Summer Reading Recommendation: Schenectady’s Comeback Story

It’s well-known that Schenectady was a company town. During World War II, a whopping 45,000 people worked for General Electric’s Schenectady headquarters, and the city prospered through the middle of the 20th century as a direct result of the abundance of jobs. But in the second half of the century, the city experienced the downside of being a company town dominated by two large employers. Mass layoffs at GE and the shuttering of ALCO caused a third of the population to pick up and leave. Like many other post-industrial cities across the country, the side-effects of being dominated by only two major employers were felt well into the new millennium.

 

Yet what’s less known is how Schenectady citizens, business leaders, representatives, art lovers and volunteers pulled the city back from ruin and rebuilt our town into the budding metropolis that it is today. That is the story that’s told in Metrofix: The Combative Comeback of a Company Town, a book published in December 2021.

 

How exactly did a meticulously researched book on Schenectady come to be? “Mona Golub called me, and she said ‘How busy are you? Would you consider doing a memoir with my dad?’” Metrofix author William B. Patrick told WAMC last year. “So we went to talk to him, and Neil said, “Nope. I don’t want a book about me. I don’t want a book about Price Chopper. I care about one thing: the economic revitalization of Schenectady.” After convincing Neil, himself one of the citizens who helped save the city through an initiative called Schenectady 2000, that the book should tell the full story—how the city fell into great decline in the first place and then how it made an equally great comeback—William got to work. The finished product has been called “an essential book for anyone interested in the lifecycle of city centers and how urban planning can succeed.”

 

Those interested in this story, as we’re sure many Kingsway residents and their families will be, can pick up the book at the Price Chopper/Market 32 stores in Schenectady, Clifton Park, Guilderland and Glenville; The Open Door Bookstore in downtown Schenectady; Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza; or online at metrofixbook.com or amazon.com.