Schenectady County

Travel blog shines light on Schenectady

The lights are back on in a city once famous for lighting the world, “and shining brighter with each
Rochester-based travel blogger and wedding photographer Arian David took this photo while visiting downtown Schenectady last month.
Rochester-based travel blogger and wedding photographer Arian David took this photo while visiting downtown Schenectady last month.

The lights are back on in a city once famous for lighting the world, “and shining brighter with each day,” according to a Rochester-based travel-blogger and wedding photographer who spent two days in Schenectady last month.

“This blog entry isn’t short, but there’s just so much good stuff,” writes Arian Horbovetz, who took an Amtrak train to Schenectady on Feb. 21 and toured the city on a scooter for two days. “Come on with me; I’ll take you on a trip to a great little city.”

The nearly 5,000-word blog entry, posted at, is called ”Schenectady: The Lights Shine Again.”

Horbovetz’ visit brought him to places like Ambition Cafe and various shops on Jay Street, Aperitivo Bistro — which he calls “the ultimate blend of delicious food, gorgeous styling and everyday approachability” — the Schenectady Greenmarket at Proctors, the Schenectady County Public Library, Wolff’s Biergarten, The Van Dyck and 20 North Broadway Tavern.

He writes of eating great food and meeting friendly people everywhere he goes.

“What I learned quickly was that this was one of those establishments where friendly, down to earth people collect to hang with other friendly, down to earth people,” he writes of his Saturday visit to 20 North. “When you think about it, that’s kind of rare these days.

“Well, OK, rare in some places, not in Schenectady.”

The last upstate New York city Horbovetz toured — and the first upstate city he blogged about — was Utica in early November. That blog, posted in early January, has amassed more than 60,000 page views. It gained 15,000 views on its first day. As of 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Schenectady blog had 7,800 views after going live at 7 a.m. and Horbovetz expected the numbers to be close to 15,000 by the end of the day.

“The response has been nothing short of incredible,” he said.

The blog features colorful photos of Jay Street’s pedestrian walkway, the Amtrak train station, the Proctors marquee and the Stockade Historical District’s architecture, as well as a snowy downtown Schenectady lit up at night.

“Even in the midst of a thick snowfall, it beckoned me in,” he writes.

A photographer’s dream

Horbovetz’ tour of Schenectady was guided by Talias Cass of Proctors and Kelly Marr, a Schenectady resident who started the @schenectadydoesntsuck account. On Sunday, Feb. 22, Horbovetz took Marr’s advice and spent some time in the Stockade Historic District.

“Kelly was right — it was a photographer’s dream,” he writes before revealing a series of photographs. “Old residences, each one with their own unique charm. Everywhere I looked, there was something I wanted to snap a picture of.”

Horbovetz also remarks on Schenectady’s complex history with General Electric, saying its bright sign seems to hover over Erie Boulevard, “watching over the city like an ancient guardian.” He writes that Schenectady is rebounding from the loss of jobs at General Electric in the late 20th century thanks to a concerted effort by local officials, the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, Proctors CEO Philip Morris and an energized younger population set on debunking the city’s negative perception.

He adds that GE is also helping to fuel the comeback, most recently by creating jobs in the renewable-energy field.

“Schenectady is now well on its way to the same urban rebirth we are seeing in cities across the country,” he writes. “While still in transition, the wheels are very much in motion.”

And he calls Schenectady “THE shining example” of how traveling through upstate New York cities can be done without a car.

“The train LITERALLY stops in the middle of downtown,” he writes. “You get off the train, and there you are, a minute or two walk to everything . . . and I mean everything.”

Horbovetz said he decided to make Schenectady his next destination after being contacted by Sara Mae Hickey, who is opening Puzzles Bakery & Cafe on State Street. Hickey is one of many business owners featured in the post, as Horbovetz writes about her determination to open a bakery that provides meaningful employment to people with disabilities.

After hearing from Hickey through Facebook, Horbovetz said he remembered looking down State Street while traveling by train from Rochester to New York City and being intrigued. He had also heard the city was “on the comeback trail,” he said.

“I thought that might be a good place for my next spot, and it was,” he said. “It was great.”

What struck him the most about Schenectady was its confidence, he said.

“Schenectady seems to be really confident in its urban revival and the steps that it’s taken,” he said. “It seems to be further along than some of the other cities I’ve seen in upstate New York.”

Horbovetz said he has returned to Utica multiple times since the original post, and plans to come back to Schenectady. The next city he writes about could be Troy, or possibly Binghamton, he said.

“Troy and Binghamton are definitely on my list,” he said.

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