The year 2009 marked the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the river valley and hinterlands that became the Dutch colony of Nieuw Nederland. Nieuw Amsterdam, a trading post on the rocky southern tip of Manhattan Island, founded by the Dutch in 1625, was not a very suitable agricultural site. In the next 38 years, before the colony was ceded to the British in 1663, the Dutch West India Company granted charters to towns in what is now Greater New York City. These tours focus on the history and geography of some of these sites.
The Old Waterfront in Nieuw Amsterdam
Since Dutch colonial times the land area below Chambers St has more than doubled by the process of landfill and canal building refined by the Dutch in the Netherlands. We’ll follow the original shoreline beyond Battery Park and along Pearl St commenting on the evolution of the waterfront along the East River. Then we’ll ascend the hill to Broadway, the high point of Dutch New Amsterdam to Wall Street, its northern defense. Begins at the diorama exhibit in Castle Clinton in Battery Park.
In 1645 the Dutch West Indian Company granted a town charter in what is now northeast Queens to mostly English settlers seeking more religious freedom than prevalent in New England. The declaration of religious freedom, known as the Flushing Remonstrance occurred here in 1657. Vlissingen was named for Vlissingen in the Netherlands, a major port of embarkation for both the East and West Indies. The new town was accessed from the Flushing River and Flushing Bay and provided well drained land, later the site of the first nurseries in North America. The walk is based on the history and geography of the site.
Concrete Plant Park on the Bronx River, Huntington Library (Forgotten NY)
Bronck’s River and Oostdorp
In Nieu Nederland Jonas Bronck was granted land between the Harlem River and the river derived from his name. Further east, the village of Oostdorp (or East town) was settled by English coming west from New England. In English New York Oostdorp became Westchester and lent its name to Westchester County. We visit a redeveloped stretch of the Bronx River, cross the river and then travel by subway to historic Westchester Square.
Where Does Harlem Begin? (Nieuw Haarlem)
In what is a most remarkable transition from wealth to poverty, the grand apartments on the Upper East Side of Manhattan yield to the tenements and projects of East Harlem in just a few city blocks. The slope where this transition occurs actually stretches from the Hudson River to the East River and historically, has always marked a change in land use. The Dutch colonists in Nieu Nederland began this process when they established the agricultural community of Nieuw Haarlem in the Harlem Valley in 1658.