The History of New York- One of the Most Fascinating Cities in the World

New York officially marks its name thanks to the European discovery. The Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 was the pioneer of the Dutch people. In 1624, the Dutch established their settlement along the Hudson river.

New York is known as one of the original 13 colonies in the USA. Its leading status touched all cores of culture and economy until the 1960s. California took its role rather soon.

The landscape of New York characterizes many contrasts. Shaped by the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island, a similar melody shines upon the Great Lakes. The skyscrapers of Manhattan spice up the additional story. Brooklyn is a special place to discover as the world of movies and tv-shows.

In the middle of the 19th century, New York became a home to the millions of immigrants from Europe. This time drastically changed the image and economy of New York.

New York During Native Settlement

Lenape people inhabitated the modern area of New York. They were speaking the Algonquian language, now known as Unami. Manahatta is the name they gave to the region, meaning place of many hills. Lenape or Delaware people inhabitated today’s Delaware, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. New York City should also be included.

Lenape People,the native New Yorkers (New York would be a totally different place if they continued their story)
Lenape People,the native New Yorkers (New York would be a totally different place if they continued their story)- Credit:

The Dutch people established New Amsterdam in 1626, but the British took possession and renamed it New York in 1664.

Lenape people got different names by European settlers, considering the places in which they lived. Some of these names were „Raritan“ in Staten Island, Canarsee in Brooklyn and Hackensack in New Jersey.

Abundant waterways in New York were their source of fishing, hunting and trade. Lenape people developed the subtle science of agriculture using the slash and burn technique.

Pre-colonial Period

Serving the French ship La Dauphine in 1524, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano explored the Atlantic coast of North America. He named the area New Angoulême, taking into account the town of Angoulême in France.

The Statue of Liberty with the view of Hudson river
The Statue of Liberty with the view of Hudson river- Credit:

Henry Hudson was an Englishman that represented the Dutch fleet and in 1609 gave his name to the Hudson River. Hudson’s aim was to find a shortcut to Asia just like Christopher Columbus. The significance of the beaver population plays a huge part of New York City’s history. Its official seal pays a tribute to beavers also.

Dutch and British Colonial Period

Henry Hudson and his ship Half Moon represented the Dutch East India Company. The fur trade was developed in today’s Albany thanks to the efforts of Henry Hudson.

Several Dutch families found their new home on today’s Governor’s Island on the southern wings of Manhattan. Building Fort Nassau in 1614 gave the basis to the Dutch settlement, which served as a trading point. Joan Rodrigues was the first non-native on Manhattan Island.

Governor's Island at Manhattan, the aerial view
Governor’s Island at Manhattan, the aerial view- Credit:

Actually, Peter Minuit bought the Island of Manhattan in 1626. As the Governor of the Dutch West India Company, he named a colony New Amsterdam. The British people won the Island of Manhattan thanks to the Treaty of Westminster in 1674. Renaming it New York, they gave praise to the Duke of York.

The British gave wings to the commercial success of New York and founded Colombia University in 1754.

Province of New York

The Province of New York (1664-1776) was a British colony that shaped the United States. The colony developed from the Dutch Province of New Netherlands. After the second Anglo-Dutch War in 1664 England gained the power. The government ruled directly from England and applied English common law in the colony.

The province became officially the State of New York in 1776, giving power to its first Constitution in 1777. New York served as a military and political base of the British power in North America.

Finally, New York glorified the independence from the crown by the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

View of the Hudson Valley in New York and its waterfalls
View of the Hudson Valley in New York and its waterfalls- Credit:

New York focused economically on agriculture on Long Island and the Hudson Valley. The main tracks of agriculture were bread and lumber production for the British sugar colonies in the Caribbean. Trade and artistic crafts represented another source of economic activities.

New York in the American Revolution

The American War of Independence established the United States as a country separating it from Great Britain. New York during this time played an essential role. The Stamp Act in 1765 created a throne to the revolt and introduced direct tax on the British colonies in America. The printed material needed to be produced in London and paid in British currency.

The largest battle of the War was the Battle of Long Island in 1776, taking part in today’s Brooklyn. The battle led to the failure of Americans and a new British military and political base. The Battles of Lexington and Concord made compromise between merchants and the King impossible due to their huge losses.

The Trinity Church at Wall Street, the contrast of architecture
The Trinity Church at Wall Street, the contrast of architecture- Credit:

The Great Fire of New York in 1776 destroyed a huge number of buildings in the city, including the Trinity Church. New York became the capital of USA in 1785 just after finishing the war.

American Civil War (1861-1865)

During the Civil War, New York experienced a growth of population. The trade mostly depended on cotton produced in the city. The media became the powerful wheel of public opinion. The newspapers like The New York Times, New York Tribune, Harper’s Weekly and others appear. The agriculture of New York was the leading one in the country, especially grain production.

American Civil War in the painting
American Civil War in the painting- Credit:

The transport system enlightened its canals and railroads, taking into account that the Erie Canal was pivotal. Military force made drastic role in the USA and even New York Harbour had several forts and garrisons.

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 finally liberated the slaves. New York City didn’t experienced the Civil War but its troops took an effort in every major battle. The Battle of Franklin of 1864 was pretty serious while the three-day Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest.

New York City Draft Riots

The New York City Draft Riots were the violent revolts in Lower Manhattan during July in 1863. These days marked the opposition between the white-working class and new laws by the Congress. This event represents one of the largest urban disturbances in American history. President Lincoln organised several troops to control the city.

This week of protests turned into racial violence, also known as Draft Week. The damages during the Draft Riots week were pretty huge with at least 120 civilians killed. 1 million $ includes the total property damage. Many black residents of Manhattan moved to Brooklyn.

With many immigrants to New York and exports of cotton, fear appeared upon migration of black sleeves. The police were unable to stop the riots but they succeeded in putting it away at Lower Manhattan. At least 2000 people were injured.

Great Depression

Ten years of the Great Depression brought severe challenges and struggles in New York. It lasted from 1929 till 1939 when unemployment reached its highest level. Stock prices were the primary reason for the Great Depression. Every corner of the country fell upon the drastic change and even the financial savings didn’t survive.

Many people became homeless, which is a total opposition to the rich city as it was. Progressivism floated to the surface just before the Depression. It was a direct answer to modernisation bringing social justice.

Franklin Delano Roosvelt, ex president of the United States
Franklin Delano Roosvelt, ex president of the United States- Credit:

New York City was the cradle of the Great Depression and even after ten years, didn’t recover from the market crash. The New Deal accompanied the Great Depression, giving new programs for recovery by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The production reached the lowest level, which was the primordial cause of the Great Depression. The economy started to bloom shortly after the Depression.

New Deal and Its Goals

Creating as many jobs as possible was the pristine essence of the New Deal. Trying the most practical method to improve the situation was a step forward. Roosevelt’s speech gave the title to the program.

The First New Deal (1933-1934) brought the basis to recovery system and the Second New Deal (1935-1938).

Further legislative reforms. The Works Progress Administration initiated the millions of new jobs. Every core of life took a new shine, from constructing bridges to painting murals and writing plays.

The New Deal program was closely linked with the ideas of the British economist John Maynard Keynes. Selling more products and hiring more workers was the principal thought.

The New Deal was only partially successful and even the Supreme Court opposed several projects. The main principles of the New Deal still prevail, including the social security and regulation of hours.

New York After World War II

New York City during World War II experienced a complete transformation due to the war but also the Great Depression. The economic power of New York became unparalleled, leading it to the manufacturing reignity. More than 40 000 factories shined upon its life.

Wholesale was at the highest level in the whole America. Its economic dominance enlightens the fact that it was the world’s financial capital. Immense corporations define the life of New York City.

Sunset over New York City
Sunset over New York City- Credit:

The employment discrimination was officially banned in 1941. At the end of 1946, New York gained a new role as it began to host permanent headquarters of the United Nations.

Not only the economic bloom caught New York but it prospered culturally. The legendary mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, after 12 years finally stepped out in 1945. New York opened the doors of a new world after World War II.

The Modern Times of New York

The 20th century marks the continuous growth of the city, which reached 7 million people by the end of 1980s.

New York City got its first African American mayor in 1989- David Dickins. Real estate experienced the exquisite growth after its silent decline. Abandonded neighbourhoods became artistic zones, like Chelsea in Manhattan or Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

The early 20th century brought new bridges.  Precisely, this includes Williamsburg Bridge, Queensboro Bridge or Manhattan Bridge. Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn, was built in 1964.

Many museums opened in New York City in the 20th century. One of the earliest was the Museum of the city of New York from 1923. The Gugenheim Museum marks its beginning in 1939.

The Famous Buildings of New York

Many famous buildings were built in the early 20th century.

The Flatiron Building was one of the first New York skyscrapers, originally named the Fuller Building. Its triangular shape gave the exquisite feeling to Maddison Square on Manhattan. Dating back in 1902, it served small businesses. Its original purpose was dedicated to the main Chicago contracting firm- George A. Fuller Company. Nowadays, it’s empty for more than 60 years.

The Flatiron building with its triangular shape
The Flatiron building with its triangular shape- Credit:

New York Public Library opened in 1911, which became the second largest public building in the USA. Actually, it’s the fourth largest library in the world. Lion statues or Patience and Fortitude shine at the entrance.

Grand Central Station opened in 1913, covering an elegant design. The Woolworth Building from 1913 in downtown Manhattan shines with the Gothic style.

The Empire State Building started the life in 1931. The Rockfeller Centre holding the famous shopping complex was built in 1932.

Wall Street

Wall Street became the essence of the growing financial industry starting from the 1980s. Located in Lower Manhattan, it featured a wall from 1685 till 1699. During the 17th century, Wall Street was a centre of a slave trade. The first city hall took place here.

The legendary Wall Street in New York City
The legendary Wall Street in New York City- Credit:

40 Wall Street or Trump Building is the Neo-Gothic skyscraper and once the tallest in the world. Many businesses filled the street in the early 20th century.

The New York Stock Exchange, as the world’s largest stock market, was established at Wall Street. Many commercial banks and insurance companies take place here. The central banking system of the USA or Federal Reserve Bank found its home on Wall Street.

This narrow winding street flows from East River to Broadway. It lies in close proximity to the World Trade Centre site.

The significance of Wall Street became the symbol of elite and political power.

New York City of the 21st Century

The greatest tragedy of New York was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 21.09. 2001. More than 2000 people inside the building were killed. The city recovered quickly and the World Trade Centre re-opened in 2014.

The towers of the World Trade Centre
The towers of the World Trade Centre- Credit:

Hurricane Sandy in 2012 brought a destructive force to numerous streets, tunnels and subway lines.

New York City remains a strong financial centre and fascinating tourist destination.

Conclusion- The History of New York City

From New Amsterdam to the modern Big Apple, this unique city bursts in every aspect. It attracts numerous visitors thanks to its history, cultural shine and cosmopolitan vibration. Central Park is a fascinating oasis with a rural shine and touristic joy.

Intertwining between Manhattan, Brooklyn or Staten Island, New York City lives a colourful blend of cultures. Like the small countries, these neighbourhoods have their own history.


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