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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Postcard Thursday: The Stadt Huis

Today's postcard may be familiar to you, especially if you read James's article on Curbed a few months ago about places to seek out Dutch heritage in New York City.

The building pictured here is the old Dutch city hall, or stadt huis, which was originally opened in 1642 as the municipal tavern. As we write in Inside the Apple:
On February 2, 1653, New Amsterdam officially became the first legally chartered city in America. [Peter Stuyvesant] would be advised by a council of five schepens (aldermen), two burgomasters (chief magistrates), and a schout-fiscal (sheriff and district attorney)—all appointed by him. This body served as a civil court, ruling on everything from petty grievances to capital crimes. Lacking a proper place to meet, Stuyvesant granted them the use of the city-run tavern on Pearl Street, which was renamed the stadt huis (city hall). In 1656, a special bell was added, which rang to signal the beginning of the court’s sessions.
Notice, however, that in the postcard above it doesn't say that it is the Dutch city hall, but instead is labelled "New York City Hall When Occupied by the English" (even though that is clearly Peter Stuyvesant and his peg-leg in the foreground). While the caption might seem strange at first, it's not wrong. When the English first took over New Amsterdam, they used old city hall as their own. In October 1664—350 years ago this month—every Dutch citizen was forced to take an oath of allegiance to Charles II, including Stuyvesant, who had no intention of repatriating to the Netherlands. Maybe this is postcard of Stuyvesant moments after he'd become and English citizen.

Interested in knowing more about the 350th Anniversary of the takeover?? We have a few slots left for our walking tour on Sunday at 4pm.

The tour is $15 per person -- or $25 if you'd like a copy of Footprints in New York.

For complete details on how to reserve, visit

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