Little Bits of History

Not the Big Apple Yet

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 2, 2015
New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam

February 2, 1653: New Amsterdam receives municipal rights. The first recorded Dutch exploration of the area now called New York Bay was in 1609. Henry Hudson was captain of Halve Maen (Half Moon in English) and serving the Dutch Republic as emissary of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. Hudson was seeking the Northwest Passage for the Dutch East India Company. Instead of finding a way to the Orient, he found beaver pelts, a highly profitable commodity for making waterproof hats. The area became economically exploitable and settlers moved in. On a 1614 map which gave the Dutch a four-year trade monopoly, the area discovered was called New Netherland for the first time. A trading post was built – Fort Nassau. Renamed in 1624 to Fort Orange, it grew into the town of Beverwyck and was incorporated in 1652. We know the place as Albany.

The Pilgrims from England came over in 1620 and ended up in what is now Massachusetts even though they were hoping to sail up the Hudson River. The Dutch West India Company needed to protect the entrance to the Hudson River and 1625 moved settlers from Noten Eylant to what is today Manhattan Island and there they built Fort Amsterdam. During the Mohawk-Mahican War in the Hudson Valley, even more settlers were brought in to the Fort Amsterdam area. Settlement was prohibitively expensive and even the beaver pelts weren’t enough to fully fund it, so plans were scaled back and a smaller fort was built within walls of clay and sand in 1628.

Peter Minuit was brought in as the company general-director in 1626 and he agreed with his predecessor on the location on which to build the fort. To legally safeguard the site, Minuit “purchased” Manhattan from a band of Lenape for 60 guilders worth of trade goods. Seyseys, the Lenape chief, accepted the expensive goods even though most of the land was controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks. The value of the goods has been debated over the centuries and the deed has not survived. New Amsterdam grew and became a city on this day. The Dutch remained in control of the region until August 27, 1664 when four English frigates sailed into the harbor and demanded New Netherland’s surrender. The Dutch and English were not at war, but Peter Stuyvesant and his delegates signed official Articles of Capitulation on September 6.

War did soon break out and in June 1665, New Amsterdam was reincorporated under English law as New York City, named after the Duke of York, the future King James II of England. York was the brother of the current English King Charles II. The war with the Dutch ended in 1667 and the Dutch did not press for the return of New Amsterdam or any of New Netherland. Instead, they were granted a tiny Island of Run in North Maluku (today part of Indonesia in the Pacific Ocean) which was rich in nutmeg. Colonial Governor Richard Nicolis was now in charge of the region. The Dutch briefly took control of the area again during the next war, but in sixteen months, the region was back under British control.

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan! – Walt Whitman

I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air you breathe, but this is where it’s happening. – John Lennon

Whoever is born in New York is ill-equipped to deal with any other city: all other cities seem, at best, a mistake, and, at worst, a fraud. No other city is so spitefully incoherent. – James Baldwin

Also on this day: Punxsutawney Phil – In 1887, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania celebrates their first Groundhog’s Day.
Iditarod Beginnings – In 1925, diphtheria serum arrived in Nome, Alaska.
Castaway – In 1709, Alexander Selkirk was rescued from the deserted island.
Ulysses – In 1922, Ulysses by James Joyce was published.
Not the Race – In 1933, two were murdered in Le Mans, France.

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