Founded by Dutch traders in 1661, Schenectady is one of the oldest cities in the country. Both General Electric Co. and the now-defunct American Locomotive Co. had their headquarters here in the early 1900s, and Schenectady was dubbed "the city that lights and hauls the world." At night, a giant GE emblem still glows over downtown from atop a factory. Today, with a population of nearly 62,000, the city is an interesting blend of arts, architecture, and culture. Proctor's Theatre, an old vaudeville theater, hosted the upstate premiere of Schenectady native John Sayles's 2004 movie, Silver City. In the city's quiet, tree-lined Stockade District—a historic district away from the downtown area—18th- and 19th-century homes and churches nestle along the Mohawk River. European immigrants, especially Italians and Poles, have left an indelible imprint on the city's churches, restaurants, and markets; festivals celebrating Italian, Greek, Polish, and Jewish food and culture, held from June through September, attract thousands. The Gazette Holiday Parade —the largest nighttime parade in the Northeast—winds through downtown the day after Thanksgiving, cheered by excited children and parents bundled in overcoats.
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