New York City, undoubtedly one of the most famous cities of the world, has existed for centuries—four to be exact. Compared to many other major global cities, the history of New York is relatively short. Despite its brief existence, New York has developed a dense history from its rich cultural roots that continue to influence the look and feel of the city today. Some may find the history of New York surprising, but if you take a closer look you will notice signs of New York's rich past all around the island of Manhattan. The more you see and learn, the clearer it will become that New York City's fate to become one of the most diverse cosmopolitan cities in the world was laid early on in its history.
The city of New York, formerly known as New Amsterdam, has its roots as a Dutch colony of New Netherlands. Peter Minuit, the Dutch Director General of New Netherlands was said to have purchased the island of Manhattan from Native Americans for the equivalent of what is today 24 U.S. Dollars. The outpost was settled in the southernmost tip of Manhattan, and fortified to serve as protection for the Dutch East India Company, in their trade of beaver pelts, of which there was an abundant supply in the Americas. Originally a settlement of about 300 people, New Amsterdam was known for being a very diverse settlement; historians estimate that around half of the population was not Dutch but came from other European territories, with a moderate slave population as well. Dutch society was thought to be quite progressive, as slaves at the time were allowed to earn their freedom through work and move up through the social ranks. Interracial marriage was not unheard of. This early establishment of multi-cultural acceptance has played a role in the development of New York City, as it's reputation for diversity was established long ago amongst its earliest settlers.
Today you can see remnants of the original New Amsterdam settlement near the Financial District, Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Starting at the Dutch Pavilion in the Peter Minuit Plaza, visitors can walk through the streets that were originally laid during the days of Dutch rule. Many tours are available to introduce you to the history of the streets and where their names came from. Pearl Street for instance was the original Eastern shoreline of Manhattan, and was named so as piles of famous New York oyster shells were stored along this path. Battery Park has a reconstruction of what a Dutch farm was like during the 1600's, and you can see the location of the first New Amsterdam city hall.
The Dutch ruled the island of Manhattan from 1624 until 1664, when they surrendered the territory to the English, and the territory was then renamed in honor of the British King, New York. The British and the Dutch settlers continued to live relatively peacefully, and Dutch influence has remained strong to this day.
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