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Monday, September 12, 2011

Henry Hudson's Arrival -- September 13? September 11?

Today is the day traditionally held to be New York's anniversary -- 402 years ago today, Henry Hudson sailed his ship the Halve Maen ("Half Moon") into the river the bears his name and thus began European involvement in the place we now call New York.

Two years ago, it was on September 13, that the city celebrated its 400th birthday, complete with a royal visit from the Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima.

But why September 12 or 13, when--in fact--Hudson was already here days earlier?

We have a detailed description of Hudson's voyage thanks to the journal of his first mate, Robert Juet. Here's Juet's entry for September 13:
The thirteenth, fair weather, the wind northerly. At seven of the clock in the morning, as the flood came we weighed, and turned four miles into the river. The tide being done we anchored. Then there came four canoes aboard: but we suffered none of them to come into our ship. . . .

So, yes it appears that on September 13, the Halve Maen sailed four miles into the river. (A river which would only come to be known as the Hudson many years later; for a great portion of New York's history it was called the North River.)

This is what happened on the 12th:
Very fair and hot....we turned into the river two leagues and anchored.

And here is Juet's entry for September 11:

The eleventh was fair and very hot weather. At one of the clock in the afternoon we weighed and went into the river, the wind at south south-west, little wind. Our soundings were seven, six, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen fathoms. Then it shoaled again, and came to five fathoms. Then we anchored, and saw that it was a very good harbor for all winds, and rode all night. 

Thus, on September 11, Hudson also "went into the river" and anchored in the "very good harbor." That means that on September 11, 1609, the Halve Maen was at anchor somewhere in New York harbor. Today, of course, we cannot think of September 11 without turning to more recent New York City events, but there's still no reason not to commemorate Hudson on the day he actually sailed into the harbor.


Read more about Henry Hudson and early New York in
Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York

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