Manhattan History – New York Becomes A City

IN 1672, on the eve of the Dutch recapture of the city, New York is described as having from 400 to 500 houses, and these, according to an account ten years later, were of Dutch brick “alla moderna.” Tile roofs came into common use after the English occupation. The typical substantial house of the period […]

Manhattan History – The Money Mart – Old And New

THE old Dutch town, lying east of Broadway and north of the fort, was not mapped until 1656, though title to individual plots was granted as early as 1643, the first of record being a lot on Brugh Street (now Bridge Street), thirty by one hundred ten feet, for twenty-four guilders or somewhat less than […]

Manhattan History – The English Conquest

PETER STUYVESANT overshadows his predecessors in authority over New Netherlands as an historic figure, living in the folklore of America as a crotchety person with a wooden leg, frightening boys away from his famous pear trees. If any man could make these stubborn settlers respect distant rule, Stuyvesant was well fitted to make them do […]

Manhattan History – The British Fall To Rise Again

THE English, it has been observed, take things coolly, but they take them. For years they had been protesting against the Dutch occupation of New Netherland, basing their claims on Cabot’s voyages. Diplomatic representation had been made at various times since 1621. Friction had developed over the Connecticut occupation, the Dutch expansion to the Delaware, […]

Manhattan History – First Deals In Golden Earth

LATER generations have amused themselves by picturing Father Knickerbocker as an affluent old gentleman with ruffles and silver buckles. He did, indeed, acquire lands and riches; but to do so required long, hard years of toil plus persistent agitation to break down barriers raised by the trading company and the home government. So let us […]

Manhattan History – The Shell Game Of Manhattan

ALTHOUGH New York thinks of itself as a money-making town, the only money made here comes from counterfeiting operations. But some excellent money was made here in early colonial days, more than three hundred years ago. When the Dutch arrived, in 1609, they found the Indians using seashell discs as measures of value and as […]

Manhattan History – The Astors Grow Up With The Island

WHENEVER anyone wishes to point to a moral or a barb, in connection with great wealth, he has a go at the Astor fortune. It is a fair mark for either attention. While it had its birth in what were once supreme American virtues—thrift, hard work, adventurous energy, and stubborn shrewdness—some of the Astor gains […]

Manhattan History – Those Weird Wendels

OF all the families floated to affluence by rising waves of Manhattan real estate values, the Wendels were the quietest and queerest. They lived simply on the most expensive residential site in New York City, drew less fun from their fortune than a bricklayer gets out of his weekly wage, and ended by committing family […]

Manhattan History – The Dutch Settle Manhattan

LIFE is a progress in misapprehensions; history, a process of correcting some misapprehensions and creating others for good measure. Verrazzano, as we have seen, took slight interest in the land he glimpsed here, beyond surmising that there might be minerals in its rocks. Hudson saw in Manhattan only a pleasant shore bordering a strait opening […]

Manhattan History – Golden Earth After Three Centuries

A VISITING Dutch boy recently amused New Yorkers by saying that he would gladly pay double the price for Manhattan today than his ancestors paid to the Indians, which, as you will recall, was the trifling sum of $24 in trade goods. The island today is worth $8,000,000,000 on the assessment rolls, which is a […]