GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: Information to furnish the mind

The Changing Names of New York City

New Amsterdam in 1660
New Amsterdam in 1660

Before the City of New York was called New York, it was called New Amsterdam.

Working for the Dutch East India Company in 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson may have been the first European to sail past Manhattan Island. On the strength of Hudson’s voyage, the Dutch claimed the land that would become New York City.

New Amsterdam was founded on the tip of Manhattan Island in 1625. In 1626, Peter Minuit created a deed with the Manhattan Indians to establish Dutch ownership of the island. According to legend, Minuit gave the Indians about $24 worth of trinkets in exchange for the island.

In 1664, New Amsterdam fell into the hands of the English. King Charles II granted the newly acquired lands to his brother, the Duke of York, and New Amsterdam became New York.

In 1673, the Dutch briefly regained the city, re-naming it “New Orange.”

In 1674, The Dutch ceded New Amsterdam and the surrounding area (parts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island), to the English. “New Orange” went back to being called “New York.”

The City of New York claims 1665 as its founding date.

Seal of the City of New York
Seal of the City of New York. The Latin translates as "Seal of the City of New York." The Roman name for the city of "old" York in England was Eboracum.

NOTE: The word bowery is from Dutch bowerij, “homestead farm.” By 1787, the name had become attached to a road that ran from the built-up part of New York out to the plantations in middle Manhattan. By 1840, the road had become a commercial district “notorious for squalor, rowdiness, and low life.” (Online Etymology Dictionary)

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