GET UPDATES IN YOUR INBOX! Subscribe to our SPAM-free updates here:

GET UPDATES IN YOUR INBOX! Subscribe to our SPAM-free email here:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Beginnings of the NYPD

On August 12, 1658 -- 352 years ago today -- New York's first municipal police force was founded. Of course, back in 1658 New York was still New Amsterdam and the police force went by another name -- the rattle watch.

The name derived from the wooden rattles that the patrol would carry. Eight men walked the streets of New Amsterdam from dusk to dawn; they would call out the hours all night long and, if they heard anything, shake their rattles to scare the person away. It was a system specifically designed to avoid confrontation. Membership in the rattle watch rotated amongst the
burghers of New Amsterdam and if you tried to shirk your duty, you'd be fined. (You would also be fined if you were caught sleeping on the job or if your uniform was deemed untidy.)

Despite the fact that the rattle watch was paid for by a tax levied on all citizens, it was disbanded briefly in 1660 due to lack of funds. The patrol was reorganized the next year and continued through the English Colonial period until evolving into a paid, professional police force.

In our research, we came across this groovy WPA era poster (above) that was part of a series commemorating the "History of Civic Services in the City of New York." Note that the date used on the poster for the establishment of the rattle watch is less accepted by historians today, but it's a great poster nonetheless and a reproduction can be purchased at for just $7.90.

* * *

Read more about Dutch Colonial New Amsterdam
Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City.

To get RSS feeds from this blog, 
point your reader to this link.

To subscribe via email, 
follow this link.

follow us on Twitter.

No comments:

Search This Blog

Blog Archive