United States

History of New York

Brief History of New York Summarized

The Big Apple brings us a great and brief history of New York in a nutshell.

17th century New York

An Italian, Giovanni da Verrazano discovered New York Harbor in 1524. In 1609 an Englishman, Henry Hudson, sailed up the Hudson River. Then, in 1624, the Dutch founded the first permanent trading post. In 1626 the first governor, Peter Minuit, purchased Manhattan Island from Native Americans.

The Dutch built a small town on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan. It was called New Amsterdam (after its capital Amsterdam) and flourished selling furs. Settlers sold otter, beaver, mink, and seal pelts.

However, New Amsterdam was a small town with only about 1,500 inhabitants in the mid-17th century. However, some farmers farmed the land in Manhattan and Brooklyn. (The Bowery takes its name from Bouwerie, the Dutch word for farm.)

Also, not all of the early settlers were Dutch. Among them were Walloons (from what is now Belgium), French and English. The first Jews arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654. Meanwhile, the first black slaves arrived in 1628. Slaves played an important role in building the colony.

In New Amsterdam the buildings were originally made of wood, but over time stone or brick houses were built. Thatched roofs were banned in 1657 (due to fire risk).

In 1653 a wall was built on Manhattan Island to protect the small town of New Amsterdam. The street next door was called Wall Street.

In 1639 a Swede named Jonas Bronck settled in the Bronx, which bears his name. In 1645 a settlement was founded at Flushing.

In 1658 Dutch farmers built a town called Nieuw Haarlem (New Harlem) after a town in Holland. In the 18th century it became a fashionable place for merchants to build country houses. The first settlement on Staten Island was in 1661.

Meanwhile, in 1647, Peter Stuyvesant (c. 1592-1672) became Governor of New Amsterdam. Stuyvesant was the son of a Calvinist minister. He had a wooden leg. In 1647 Stuyvesant wrote: “I will rule you as a father to his children.” (Remember that parents were much stricter in the 17th century than they are today.)

He was as good as his word. Stuyvesant ruled very strictly and soon alienated the town. Stuyvesant ordered all taverns to close at 9 p.m. However, in 1653 Stuyvesant established a municipal government for New Amsterdam based on that of the Dutch cities.

However, in 1664 an English fleet arrived. Fearing that the English would pillage the colony, Stuyvesant surrendered. The Dutch briefly recaptured New Amsterdam in 1673, but lost it again to the English in 1674. This time it was renamed New York after the Duke of York, brother of King Charles II. Meanwhile, Stuyvesant retired to a farm.

In 1689 a man named Jacob Leisler (1640-1691) staged a coup in New York. For his pain he was executed in 1691.

Trinity Church was dedicated in 1698.

Meanwhile, in 1635 the Dutch built a fort called Fort Amsterdam. Later, the British gave it the name of Fort George. In 1693, 92 cannons were installed to protect New York. The area became known as the Battery.

New York, 18th century

In 1700 New York had a population of nearly 5,000 and was still growing rapidly. In 1776 the population was about 25,000 inhabitants. In 1800 the city of New York had about 60,000 inhabitants.

In the 18th century New York’s main industry was milling. The grain was ground into flour by windmills. Meanwhile, New York merchants also traded with Great Britain and the West Indies. There was also a shipbuilding industry in New York in the 18th century. The first shipyard opened its doors in 1720.

There were still plenty of slaves in New York in the 18th century. In 1712 slaves burned down a building on Maiden Lane. They also killed 9 white people who tried to stop the fire. When the soldiers arrived, 6 slaves committed suicide and another 21 were captured and executed.

A horrible episode in New York history occurred in 1741. At that time a series of fires broke out. Fires were not unusual, of course, but many people feared that they were the result of arson. They feared that there was a conspiracy among the slaves.

Authorities began to investigate. They questioned a hired servant named Mary Burton and she eventually claimed that there was a conspiracy of slaves and poor whites. (Indentured servants had to pay the cost of their journey across the Atlantic by working without pay for several years.)

Mary Burton was later rewarded and released from her contract for her part in uncovering the “conspiracy”. There is no evidence that such a conspiracy existed. However, when the hysteria spread, 18 slaves were hanged and 13 burned at the stake. They also hanged 4 whites.

During the 18th century, comforts in New York improved. The first newspaper, the New York Gazette, began publication in 1725. New York’s first theater opened in 1732. Kings College (now Columbia University) was founded in 1754.

The oldest park in New York is Bowling Green. It was first used for lawn bowling in 1733. St. Paul’s Chapel was built in 1766. St. Mark’s Church was built in 1799. Meanwhile, the Jews built their first synagogue on Mill Street in 1730.

In 1776 George Washington withdrew from New York leaving the British Army to occupy it. Then, on September 21, 1776, New York was hit by a great fire that destroyed hundreds of houses. In all, about a quarter of the city was destroyed. The British continued to occupy New York until the end of the war. George Washington entered New York on November 25, 1783.

On April 20, 1789, Washington took the presidential oath of office in Federal Hall.

Meanwhile, after the war, some New York streets were renamed. King Street was renamed Pine Street and Queen Street was renamed Pearl Street. However, the nearby county of Queens (named for Charles II’s Queen Catherine of Braganza) kept its original name. Later Queens became a neighborhood of New York.

The Bank of New York was founded in 1784. Until 1792, trading in stocks and shares took place informally on and around Wall Street. However, in that year a group of merchants signed an agreement to deal only with each other. That was the beginning of the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1791 and 1798 New York suffered from outbreaks of yellow fever. However, its population grew rapidly.

19th century New York

In 1811 a new fort called the West Battery replaced Fort George. In 1815 it was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of Mayor DeWitt Clinton.

At first, New York City grew randomly. However, in 1807 the governor of the state of New York appointed a commission to draw up a plan for the city. The commission reported in 1811.

The plan proposed that the new streets be laid out in the form of a grid. There would be 12 avenues from north to south and 155 streets from east to west. As New York City grew, the grid pattern spread north through Manhattan.

By 1820, New York had become the largest city in the United States, with a population of 123,000. It continued to grow rapidly. In 1840, New York had a population of 312,000. In 1860 it had 813,000 inhabitants.

However, in 1835 fire destroyed much of the old district of New York, but it was soon rebuilt. In 1837, Harlem was connected to New York by rail. As a result, it grew rapidly.

Meanwhile, New York became a port. In 1807 Robert Fulton launched a steamboat on the Hudson River. In 1818, New York shipowners created the Black Ball Line, the first shipping line between New York and Liverpool.

However, the port of New York really resonated when the Erie Canal was built. It allowed goods to be transported from the coast to the interior cheaply and quickly. The shipbuilding industry in New York flourished in the 19th century.

New York University was founded in 1831. The New York City Police Department was founded in 1845.

The Astor Place Riot occurred in May 1849. On May 10, 1849 the English actor William Macready played Macbeth at the Astor Place Opera House. It was a time of anti-English sentiment in New York and an angry crowd gathered outside.

The crowd then began to riot. They called in the National Guard and fired on the rioters. In all, at least 25 civilians were killed and many more wounded. Later 86 rioters were arrested.

On July 12, 1863, New York City was rocked by conscript riots. Angered by a new law on draft rioters he roamed the streets until Lincoln sent in troops to quell the disorder. Many lives were lost and much material damage was caused.

Like other 19th-century cities in Europe and North America, New York was an unhealthy place. As a result, cholera hit New York in 1832 and in 1849 it returned in 1866.

However, services in New York City improved during the 19th century. Trinity Church was rebuilt in the 1840s. It was consecrated in 1846. The architect was Richard Upjohn (1802-1878). Macy’s opened in 1858. The Central Synagogue was built in 1870. Bloomingdales was founded in 1872. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was dedicated in 1879.

In 1832 the first horse-drawn streetcars ran in New York. New York’s first elevated railroad began carrying passengers in 1868. Many other elevated railroads, or “els,” soon followed. The first New York subway line opened in 1904.

Croton Reservoir was built in 1842 to supply New York with piped drinking water. Madison Square opened in 1847. The New York Times began publication in 1851.

Washington Square Park was created in 1826. Then in 1858 Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux created Central Park. Prospect Park was built in 1867. Bryant Park was founded in 1884. It is named after the poet William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878).

Meanwhile, the first telephones were installed in New York City in 1878. New York got an electricity supply in the 1880s.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883. Unfortunately, on the first day, a crowd on the bridge panicked, thinking it was going to collapse. As a result, 12 people were trampled to death.

The Natural History Museum in New York was founded in 1869. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870. Carnegie Hall opened in 1891. The Bronx Zoo opened in 1899.

In 1883 the Metropolitan Opera House was founded on Broadway. In the early 20th century, Broadway became famous for its theaters.

Meanwhile, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886. Then, in 1888, New York City was hit by a terrible blizzard and 400 people froze to death.

In the mid-19th century, many Germans and Irish people moved to New York. In the late 19th century, many Italians arrived, and in the 1890s many Jews from Eastern Europe came to New York.

In 1892, the United States Immigration Station opened on Ellis Island. Between 1892 and its closure in 1954, nearly 17 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island. However, restrictions were placed on Chinese immigration in 1882, Japanese immigration in 1907, and illiterate immigration in 1917. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many African Americans moved to Harlem.

At that time, many poor New Yorkers lived in tenements. They were overcrowded, poorly ventilated, and the rooms often had no windows.

In 1892, a famous slum called Five Points was torn down and replaced by Columbus Park. Seward Park was created in 1901.

Also, in the late 19th century, the clothing trade in New York boomed. However, working conditions were often appalling, with people working long hours for very low wages.

The June 15 disaster hit New York. A ship called the General Slocum took people on excursions. It caught fire and 1,021 people died.

Also, on March 25, 1911, a terrible fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory claimed the lives of 146 workers.

Meanwhile, in 1898, the five districts were united under a single municipal government. New York City had a population of 3.4 million.

20th century in New York

In the 20th century, New York City continued to grow. In the 1980s, a large number of Asians immigrated to the city. In 1980, New York had a population of 7 million people.

Many famous buildings were built in New York City in the early 20th century. The Flatiron Building was built in 1902. The New York Public Library opened in 1911. The Woolworth Building was built in 1913.

The same year, 1913, Grand Central Station opened. The Chrysler Building was built in 1930 and the Empire State Building in 1931. Also in 1931 the General Electric Building was built. Rockefeller Center was built in 1932-1940.

Also, Times Square is named after the New York Times, which moved there in 1904.

Meanwhile, the Williamsburg Bridge was built in 1903 and the Queensboro Bridge was built in 1909. The Manhattan Bridge was also built in 1909. The George Washington Bridge was built in 1931. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge was built in 1964.

Meanwhile, the Holland Tunnel opened in 1927. It took 7 years to build and was named after Chief Engineer Clifford Holland (1883-1924). The tunnel took 7 years to build and unfortunately Holland died before it was completed.

Many museums opened their doors in New York City during the 20th century. The Museum of the City of New York was founded in 1923. The Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1929. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1930. The Guggenheim Museum was founded in 1939, but in 1959 it moved to a modern building.

Also, the Museum of American Folk Art was founded in 1961. South Street Seaport Museum was founded in 1967. The Museum of the Moving Image opened in 1988. Ellis Island Museum of Immigration opened in 1990.

Other museums in New York include the New York City Police Museum (1929), the Merchants’ House Museum (1936), the Museum of American Folk Art (1961), the Bronx Museum of Art (1971), the Staten Island Children’s Museum (1974), the Museum of Television and Radio (1975), the Ukrainian Museum, the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (1980), the Museum of American Illustration (1981), the Museum of New York City Fire Department (1987), the Museum of American Financial History ( 1988), and the Museum of Jewish Heritage (1997),

Additionally, many historic buildings were built in New York City in the late 20th century, including the General Motors Building (1968), the IBM Building (1982), the Jacob Javits Convention Center (1986), and the World Financial Center (1988). Also, Lincoln Center was built in 1962-1969.

World’s Fairs were held in New York in 1939-40 and 1964-64. However, in 1965 there were also race riots in Harlem. Also in 1965 New York suffered a blackout. Another blackout occurred in 1977.

In 1990 David Dinkins became New York’s first African-American mayor. In 1993 Rudolph Giuliani was elected. He managed to reduce crime in New York.

New York City today

Tragedy occurred in 2001 when the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack.

In the 21st century, New York continued to prosper. One World Trade Center opened in 2014 and the World Trade Center Transportation Center opened in 2016. New York remains a busy port. It is also an important industrial and financial center. New York City is also, of course, a major tourist destination. In 2017 the population of New York City was 8.6 million.

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