Mechanicville became a city in 1915 and is located on the Hudson River just north of Albany. The city of Mechanicville was an important crossroads since Colonial times. Mechanicville was strongly affected by the 19th century Industrial Revolution and was a key point on the Erie and Champlain Canal systems. Mechanicville also served as a major hub for railroads and other industries.
The first European settlers on the Tenendeho Creek in the area of today’s Mechanicville arrived in 1764. The first documented occurrence of the name “Mechanicville” dates back to 1829. The name comes from the early settlers, who were independent master craftsmen such as millers, carpenters, or butchers, whose professions were commonly known as the “mechanical arts” at the time. When the Champlain Canal reached the settlement in 1823, and especially when the Saratoga and Renselaer Railway laid a track through the area in 1835, Mechanicville became an important commerce interchange.
The community became an incorporated village in 1859, and grew rapidly as textile mills; factories and a linen thread company came to Mechanicville. In 1878, additional railways came to the village, and it became an important center of papermaking. In 1898, a hydroelectric power plant was built on the Hudson River by Robert Newton King, and is now the oldest continuously operating hydroelectric plant in the United States. By 1900, it was a major transfer yard and car repair center for the railways.
On May 31, 1998, a large tornado tore through Mechanicville and the adjacent Town of Stillwater. It was spawned by a series of severe storms in the late afternoon, causing major damage to the town’s old industrial section located on US Route 4 and NY-32 along the Hudson River. One of the two historic smokestacks (visible from 2 miles away) was knocked down by the tornado. In 2005, the other smokestack and the conjoined building were bulldozed. Houses on the Viall Avenue hill sections of Mechanicville and Stillwater were completely destroyed. The tornado was rated F3 on the Fujita scale (winds estimated at 200 MPH).