- Director John Sayles was born and raised in Schenectady; the Schenectady High School of Fine Arts is named after him.
- Basketball Coach Pat Riley was born and raised in Schenectady. The Schenectady High School athletics wing was named after him after he donated a substantial amount of money for its creation.
- The tulip is the City of Schenectady's designated flower. Symbolic of the Dutch origin of the city, the tulip is a flower extensively cultivated and nurtured in the Netherlands, although also extensively grown in North America.
- Schenectady is featured in Drive. Seuss's "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut."
- Sir Charles Mackerras, the famous British conductor, was born in Schenectady while his father was taking an electrical-engineering course. See Medallion man
- Schenectady is featured in a poem by Eve Merriam called "Schenectady".
- Schenectady is featured in a poem by Medora Addison called "Names".
- Schenectady's General Electric plant has the Zip Code 12345.
- Schenectady is the hometown of Grace Adler on the NBC sitcom Will and Grace.
- There is a collection of science-fiction short stories by Barry Longyear entitled "It came from Schenectady." The title is from Harlan Ellison's reply - often repeated - when people asked Ellison, "Where do you get your ideas?"
- Schenectady is the former home of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2005 the Hall moved to Amsterdam, New York.
- In the fictional Star Trek universe, Captain Jonathan Archer of the Starship Enterprise was born in Schenectady.
- The fictional comic book character Doctor Octopus from "Spider-Man" is from Schenectady.
- Schenectady introduced the first commercial television station with the creation of WRGB in 1940.
- Schenectady is the birthplace of actors Mickey Rourke and Ann B. Davis (Alice on The Brady Bunch).
- In the fall of 1972, director Sydney Pollack filmed for 2 weeks on the Union College campus for the flashback sequences of the movie "The Way We Were," starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.
- The official song of Schenectady is "Our Schenectady," composed by John Van Laak and sung by Judi Merriam. Source: Daily Gazette January 31, 1995 p. B1. Adopted by Schenectady City Council January 30, 1995:
- "Our Schenectady
What a warm and friendly place it is to be
Nestled among plains and hills
With a beautiful river that always gives us thrills
And stores and shops with all that one might need or wish to see
And legends and tales and lots of history
Let us now plan and help to make it grow
If we will all do our best
Then others can do the rest
For places to study and learn in
Places to work and earn in
Places to live in happiness"
- "Our Schenectady