How Dutch is New York? - The New Amsterdam Tour
Welcome to our audio tour of Lower Manhattan. Dutch Heritage World Tours will lead you through the streets of the area of New York City which in the 17th century was called New Amsterdam. New Amsterdam wasn’t the first Dutch trading post, but would eventually become the most important settlement of the colony of New Netherland. New Netherland was founded by the Dutch West-India Company in 1623. A year later the West-India Company sent the first group of colonists consisting of 30 Walloon families to the new colony. At first they didn’t settle in Manhattan but in other places throughout the colony covering large areas of what now are the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware.
We use 1625 as being the founding year of New Amsterdam, and therefore, of New York City even though the first structures were probably built by the Dutch colonists in 1626. In this year the Dutch West India Company sent a few ships with more colonists and soldiers as well as livestock, seeds for grains and vegetables, farm equipment and construction materials. With this the Dutch started a new community on the southern tip of Manhattan island.
Today it may be hard to imagine, but Manhattan used to be a green island of trees, bushes, brooks, swamps and a few indigenous villages with their cornfields. The name of Manhattan came from the original name of Manna-hatta, meaning ‘island of many hills’. But it could also mean ‘the island where we all got drunk’, referring to the initial contact the indigenous people of the island had with alcohol. The first buildings that were constructed on Manhattan island were Fort Amsterdam, several wooden houses, a warehouse and some farmhouses. They were soon followed by sawmills and gristmills for building homes and milling grain.
In and around the fort the village slowly but surely grew into New Amsterdam, the capital of the colony of New Netherland, and was the seat of the colonial administration To be precise, the colonists themselves called their city ‘Amsterdam in New Netherland’.
We usually talk about the Dutch colony and Dutch colonists, but in reality a substantial part of them came from other European countries. In the period that the colony was Dutch, many languages were spoken on Manhattan island, including English, German, French, different Scandinavian languages and of course the local indigenous languages. This was a reflection of Amsterdam in The Netherlands which was a teeming international trade center.
The colony of New Netherland only existed for 40 years from 1624-1664. In 1664 the English took over the colony. From that moment on New Amsterdam was called New York.
Nine years later, New York City and the surrounding islands were recaptured by the Dutch. The city was then named New-Orange in honor of ‘stadholder’ Willem III, Prince of Orange. However, this situation lasted only for about a year after which the English again regained control of the city and it was renamed New York once and for all.
In Lower Manhattan none of the original buildings that once lined the streets of New Amsterdam have survived. However, the streets still follow, more or less, the old layout which explains the somewhat haphazard outline of the streets in Lower Manhattan. Later the street plans were based on a grid. Also, the street names reveal a lot of the Dutch presence and this is what this tour will show you. We have inserted old maps, drawings, and paintings to help portray the old city of New Amsterdam as it once was – and thus the old city of New York.
The tour starts at the Netherland Monument, the Dutch-American friendship monument at the eastern entrance of Battery Park at State Street.
Audio tour developed by "Dutch Heritage World Tours" and powered by IZI.travel
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LIST OF SITES
- 1. Battery Park & Hudson River
- 2. Custom House
- 3. Whitehall Street
- 4. Bridge Street
- 5. Pearl Street
- 6. Stone Street
- 7. Broad Street
- 8. Beaver Street
- 9. William Street
- 10. Wall Street
- 11. Broadway
- 12. Pine Street
- 13. Nassau Street
- 14. Maiden Lane
- 15. Cortlandt Street