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The Fascinating History Of Manhattan

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The borough of Manhattan in New York City is home to 1.6 million people despite being just 23 square miles and has an absolutely fascinating history. 

Street in Manhattan near personal injury attorneyThe Dutch, led by Henry Hudson, landed in New York Harbor in 1609. The group of settlers spent the new few years discovering a territory that had only been previously occupied by the Native Americans and built a settlement. In 1626, the Dutch made a deal with the Canarsies to purchase Manhattan Island for 60 guilders. 

What does 60 guilders amount to today? Just under $24 dollars. 

The Dutch named their new home New Amsterdam and for the next several decades enjoyed their new home, building houses, farms, forts, and government buildings. Then in 1664, the English arrived. The English captured New Amsterdam and when they took it over, renamed it New York. 

A few years later the Dutch regained the settlement and once again renamed it, this time to New Orange. However, with the Treaty of Westminster, the English again recovered New York. 

Manhattan During The Revolutionary War

The settlement only continued to grow until it became a city and prospered until the American Revolutionary War. During the war, several great battles were fought in the city. Ultimately, New York became the military base for the English during the war and was only recovered by the newly formed American government when George Washington returned in 1783 as the British left American shores. 

The Civil War: A Complex And Tense Time In Manhattan 

During the Civil War, New York City was still only based on Manhattan Island. The city had attracted many immigrants, especially the Irish, Germans, European Jews, and Italians, because of its prosperity. But when the war started, New York residents had mixed feelings. Business owners in New York had many ties through trade with southern entities. Additionally, immigrants were worried that freed slaves would take their jobs, keeping them from their dreams. 

Riots broke out against the draft and more than a hundred people were killed due to civil unrest. 

Ultimately the end of the war brought about peace. 

Manhattan Officially Becomes One Of Five Boroughs

It was in 1898 that the “Greater New York” was formed by joining Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, and the Bronx. This decision was helped by the building of structures like the Brooklyn bridge. 

Since this joining of the boroughs, Manhattan has only continued to grow and to attract brilliant minds. This great area has survived several more wars, financial crises, and growing crime. Today, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of restaurants, can visit great locations like Central Park and the Guggenheim Museum, and can take in a show on Broadway.

This article on the history of Manhattan has been shared with you by the personal injury attorneys at Banville Law.


Laurence P. Banville
Date Published: November 4, 2019
Laurence P. Banville is the managing partner of Banville Law. As an experienced personal injury attorney, Mr. Banville helps clients recover compensation from those responsible for his clients' injuries. Our firm is located in New York City, serving clients from the five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
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