We will be running several installments of the 5 Most Intriguing Historical Facts About New York City for our Top Tuesday’s. We thought it would be interesting to see just how many facts are out there about different New York City neighborhoods that perhaps the average New Yorker or soon-to-be New Yorker might not even know about. If you already knew them comment below!
1. Giovanni Da Verrazano, hailing from the northern Italian region of Tuscany, was the first European to discover the present day New York area. Verrazano previously traveled to France and made ties with King Francis I, who fully supported the explorer’s dreams of discovering the New World. In January 1524, Verrazano set sail aboard his flagship,the Delfina, and reached New York Harbor on April 17, 1524.
2. In 1626, Dutch explorer Peter Minuit infamously purchased New Amsterdam (modern day lower Manhattan) for a mere 60 Dutch guilders, which was equal to $24 at the time. According to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, the modern day equivalent of 60 guilders is about $1,000.
3. “Manhatta” means “island of the hills” in the language of the Lenape tribe. The Lenape were Algonquin natives and the original inhabitants before the island was colonized in the mid-17th century. In 1624, the name was changed to New Amsterdam when the Dutch West India Company sent 30 families from the Netherlands to settle in the Lenape’s land of “Manhatta”.
4. The origin of the name “Wall Street” is literal. In 1653, the Dutch constructed a 12- foot- high wall in order to protect their new settlement from British and Native American attacks. The wall was ultimately dismantled following the British colonization of New Amsterdam in 1699.
5. New York City served as the nation’s first capitol in 1789. That same year, President George Washington was inaugurated at Federal Hall on the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street in what is now the Financial District.