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Thursday, April 22, 2010

1625: Fort Amsterdam and the Founding of New York

I know we keep saying this, but...


Happy Birthday New York!


As you may remember, last year was the city's 400th birthday, a celebration that commemorated four centuries since Henry Hudson sailed into New York Harbor. However, while Hudson's voyage did spark later immigration and settlement, it wasn't until the mid-1620s that New Amsterdam started shaping up into a real town. And three hundred and eighty-five years ago today, on April 22, 1625, the Dutch West India Company voted to erect a fort in the fledgling town. That fort, dubbed Fort Amsterdam, continued to exist in some form well into the 18th century, surviving the American Revolution and ultimately being torn down in 1790 to make way for a promenade. It stood just south of Bowling Green, the city's first park, on the spot where the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House (today's Museum of the American Indian) now stands. Inside the fort was a barracks, the government house (which sometimes houses the company's highest ranking employees, such as Peter Stuyvesant), and a church.

The building of Fort Amsterdam came during the first year of major settlement on Manhattan island. Though Dutch merchants had previously lived on the island -- as well as on Governors Island and up the Hudson in Albany -- the building of the fort in 1625 was a signal that Manhattan would be, from that point forward, the focus of the Dutch West India Company's operations.



Today, if you look at the official seal of the City of New York (left), you'll even see the 1625 date prominently displayed as the year of the city's founding. Therefore, today seems as good a day as any to go out and raise a glass to the city's health. Happy Birthday, New York.





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Read more about the Dutch West India Company, New Amsterdam, and the city's founding in


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