Little Bits of History

Caveat Emptor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 24, 2010

Manhattan with upgrades

May 24, 1626: Peter Minuit purchases what is today called Manhattan from natives for goods valued at 60 guilders. The deed to this purchase has been lost to history. Minuit was the third director of the Dutch West India Company and arrived in the colony he was to govern on May 4, 1626. The purchase itself was discovered in 1846 when a Dutch-American persuaded President Martin Van Buren to send a representative to the Netherlands and documents were discovered, copied, and translated into English. Only partial documentation of the Staten Island purchase, which Minuit was also involved in, had survived.

Legend states that the goods were beads, but according to logs kept by the company, there were probably many other types of goods included in the trade. In the purchase of Staten Island, goods traded included cloth, kettles, axe heads, other tools, and “diverse other wares.”

The value of guilders at the time of the trade in comparison to other currencies is questionable. The value of US $24 was arrived at during the 19th century. With the inaccuracy of the conversion methods from the 1800s acknowledged, that $24 adjusted for inflation is about $500-$700 today. The Manahata Indians, who actually owned the place, were not involved in this bargain trade. Minuit is believed to have dealt with the Canarsee Indians, who lived on Long Island.

Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City. New York County has the same boundaries as the borough and is the most densely populated county is the US. As of 2008, there were 1,634,795 people living on the 22.96 square miles or 71,201 people per square mile. Not only are there many people living there, they have the one of the wealthiest counties in the US as well with a per capita income of over $100,000. It is the smallest of the five boroughs but holds the middle position for population rank. It is also a major commercial, financial, and cultural center with many media outlets claiming a Manhattan address. There are tourist attractions, museums, and universities within its boundaries. Manhattan is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations and the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

“In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong….reality is frequently inaccurate.” – Douglas Adams

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain

“Being on sea sail, being on land settle.” – George Herbert

“Manhattan is a narrow island off the coast of New Jersey devoted to the pursuit of lunch.” – Raymond Sokolov

Also on this day:
In 1958, the
UPI was formed.
In 2001,  the Versailles wedding hall collapsed, killing 23 and injuring hundreds.

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