Niskayuna is a town in Schenectady County, New York, United States. The population was 21,781 at the 2010 census. The town is located in the southeast part of the county, east of the city of Schenectady, and is the easternmost town in the county.
Niskayuna was formed on March 7, 1809, with an original population of 681. The name of town was derived from the Connestigione Indians term Nis-ti-go-wo-ne or Co-nis-tig-i-one. The original meanings of the words translate roughly as "extensive corn flats".
Tradition has preserved a few of the following names of the chiefs of the Connestigiune tribe who inhabited this section of the country: Ron-warrigh-woh-go-wa (signifying in English the great fault finder or grumbler), Ka-na-da-rokh-go-wa (signifying a great eater), Ro-ya-na (a chief), As-sa-ve-go (big knife), and A-voon-ta-go-wa (big tree). Of these, the first made the greatest objection to alienating lands to the whites, and in each deed he was careful to have a covenant inserted by which the rights of hunting and fishing were preserved to them. It was a common saying of his that "after the whites had taken possession of our lands, they will make Kaut-sore [literally spoon-food or soup] of our bodies." Yet he was on the most friendly terms with the whites and was never backward in extending to them his powerful influence and personal aid during their expedition against the Canadians in the French War. He took great delight in instructing the boys of the settlers in the arts of war and was constantly complaining that the government did not prosecute the war against the French with sufficient vigor. The council fire of the Connestigiune band was held about a mile south of the village.
In 1687, Niskayuna was visited by a spy from the Adirondack tribe, which was an ally of the French. Hunger drove him to the house of a Dutchman by the name of Van Brakle, where he devoured an enormous quantity of the food set before him, which happened to be pork and peas. Although his movements had been made with unusual caution, the eagle eye of the "Grumbler" detected him. He waylaid him on leaving the house of his entertainer and after a short conflict, killed him. Having severed the head of the corpse from the body, he repaired to the house of Van Brakle and threw the head into the window, exclaiming to the owner: "Behold the head of your pea eater."
The first settlers of this town were an independent class of Hollanders who located outside the manor line to avoid the conflicting exactions of the patrons and the trading government of New Netherland. It was settled at about the same time as was Schenectady, a neighboring city.
Among the early settlers were the Clutes, Craigs, Van Vrankens, Vedders, Vroomans, Groots, Tymersons, Consauls, Pearses, Van Brookhovens, Claases, Jansens, and Kriegers. From an old document it appears that Harmon Vedder obtained a patent for some land here in 1664.
Captain Martin Cregier, who was the first burgomaster of New Amsterdam, finally settled in Niskayuna, on the banks of the Mohawk River, "where the Indians carry their canoes across the stones." In this retired and romantic spot, this brave soldier and just magistrate died in the year 1712.
The Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory was opened here in 1946. In 1973, the General Electric Engineering Development Center moved from downtown Schenectady to River Road in Niskayuna. Today, it is the world headquarters of the four GE Global Research centers.
In 2008 a massive ice storm left much of the town in the dark for one to five days and caused a million dollars of damage to property, including several old-growth trees.