News

New York City Celebrates 400th Anniversary

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

Multimedia

<!-- 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. 

BERENDSE:
"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.
Comments
     
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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs