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The History of Manhattan

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The information in this article is kindly sponsored by the personal injury lawyers in Manhattan, NY, from Banville Law.

One of the most heavily populated of the five boroughs of New York City and considered the birthing place for New York is a symbolic location in the United States. However, an English takeover would supersede a long Dutch rule.

Early History

Manhattan originally belonged to the Native American tribe Lenape, or the Delaware Indians. The Lenape were the first to create a form of government known as the First Nations. However, during the British colonization in the 18th century, they were forced out of their land. One of the first explorers aboard the La Dauphine was an Italian Explorer named Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. He would call the newly founded territory New Angouleme, referring to King Francis I.

In 1609, Henry Hudson would disembark on Manhattan Island in search of shorter routes to Asia. He was an Englishman that worked at the Dutch East Indian Company. In hopes of increasing their already massive sales, the company sought after quicker passages. It would not be enough they held a 20-year monopoly on the spice industry, making them the first multinational corporation worldwide. Henry would later be the inspiration for the naming of the Hudson River.

Dutch Rule

In 1626, the Dutch purchased part of Manhattan from the Lenape Tribe and named it the New Netherlands. The deal consisted of exchanging goods worth 60 guilders or approximately 1,050 USD (in 2014). The area included New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, portions of Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Construction began on the citadel of Fort Amsterdam in 1925, giving the area a new name New Amsterdam. In 1630 there was a dispute between the Dutch and the English regarding the Connecticut Valley. This battle would lead to the English regaining the land in 1674, but not before the last Dutch Director-General of the colony, Peter Stuyvesant, incorporated New Amsterdam as a city in 1653.

British Rule to Present

The city would be named Manhattan as a tribute to the native Lenape language, meaning "hilly island." Due to trade, the city grew rapidly, and traces of the Dutch began to diminish. Presently, Manhattan is home to people from many heritages, but the Lenape language is long gone, and there are very few ascendants of the early Dutch.

However, not all of Manhattan’s history has faded away. In 2010, workers unearthed a ship dating back to 1773 during construction at the World Trade Center site. It was interesting to discover that the same type of white oak that helped build Independence Hall, the home of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, was used on the ship's hull.

Related Reading: The Lincoln Square in New York

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Laurence P. Banville
Date Published: March 5, 2021
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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