New York City Celebrates 400th Anniversary

New York City Celebrates 400th Anniversary
New York City Celebrates 400th Anniversary


<!-- IMAGE -->

Four hundred years ago this month, Henry Hudson, looking for a sea route to Asia, sailed into what is now New York Harbor.  His arrival is celebrated as the beginning of Dutch settlement in North America.  A few years later, Dutch traders established New Amsterdam to trade animal furs with local Indians. Today that settlement is known as New York City.

New York City has such a distinctive look it's hard to imagine it was once a small Dutch settlement.
But at New York's South Street Seaport Museum, a centuries-old document proves the Dutch did indeed pay for this land.  

<!-- IMAGE -->

Martin Berendse, the Director of the Netherlands National Archives, translated the letter, written by a Dutch official in 1624. 

"All mighty lords of the State General.  I heard a ship, the New Amsterdam, came in from New Netherlands to Amsterdam.  I spoke to the captain and he told me.  Our people are doing well.  Children are born. The settlement is going good. And we bought the island of Manhattan for the worth of 60 guilders. By the way the ship has so many furs with it."

The letter is on loan from the Netherlands for New York's 400th anniversary.

"It's the testimony of the creation of a Dutch settlement called New Amsterdam which now became the big city of New York," explained Berendse.

A map of the area is also on display, showing houses and roads at the new settlement.

Another shows just how small Manhattan was.  That changed after the British took over.

Architectural historian Barry Lewis says the British filled in part of what's known as the East River with garbage because they needed the real estate.  Waves of immigrants, mostly from Europe, kept on coming. 

"We had only about 100,000 people at the beginning of the 19th century," he said.  "By 1875 the population of Manhattan is over one million.  By 1910, over 2 million people are living in Manhattan Island."

Manhattan real estate became expensive.  In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was built so people could buy land, further out, on Long Island where it was cheaper. 

"You could go across by carriage, freight or passengers.  You could walk across," added Lewis. 

Then came the subway.

"The brilliance of the New York subway system is that for one nickel it took you miles and miles away from the central business district and opened up cheap real estate in the outlying parts of the metropolitan area. So the average person could at least afford a house, an apartment a nice place," Lewis explained.

But businesses needed to be in Manhattan. So developers started building up, and the skyscraper was born.

"People were afraid it would fall down in the first windstorm," said Lewis.  "And anyone who had property in the commercial buildings next to it they were terrified that no one would rent in their buildings because that thing was next door."

But more of 'those things' rose.  The Woolworth Building, the Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building.  Each one outdoing the other. 

"It's money, lets face it.  This is a city built by real estate speculators," said Mr. Lewis. 

But that's not why everything in New York was built.

The Washington Square Arch designed by Stanford White and the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright, among other buildings, have enhanced New York's architectural landscape.  

Still that small sliver of land that began 400 years ago as a trading post is today still about money.

The area the Dutch settled to trade furs with the Indians is now Wall Street, the world's financial center.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs