On February 2, 1653, New Amsterdam, the capital of New Netherland, the Dutch colonial settlement in North America was incorporated as a city. The city later evolved to become the modern-day New York City (NYC). The official seal of New York City bears the 1625 date in honor of the founding of New Amsterdam.
Though the French and Spanish had discovered the region that now forms NYC, earliest exploration of the area was led by Henry Hudson, an Englishman who was serving with the Dutch East India Company, in 1609. He led his 10-day long exploration along River Hudson (named in his honor), on board the Halve Maen ship. The States General of the Dutch Republic soon commissioned private commercial enterprises to survey their newly owned territory, the New Netherland and the region that became NYC was chartered by these companies between 1611 and 1614. Within a decade this area called New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam) became a hub of fur trade. As trapping for pelts started to grow popular, the Dutch settlement on Governors Island started to extend.
In 1624, Noten Eylandt (Governors Island) was declared a provincial territory. In 1625, the Dutch embarked on the construction of a citadel and the Fort Amsterdam on what is now Manhattan Island. Settlers soon started to move here from Governors Island. The Dutch East India Company Director-General of New Amsterdam, Willem Verhulst was responsible for choosing the site for New Amsterdam. The Manhattan area was selected to be the capital of the province and quickly became the largest Dutch colonial settlement in New Netherland.
Peter Minuit soon replaced Verhulst. He prepared to legally gain all rights to the Manhattan region through a legal deed with the native Indians in 1626. By the time the city was incorporated in 1653, New Amsterdam was an important trading hub for the Dutch in the province with a population of about 800 residents. New Netherland at the time had 2,000 residents. Incorporation brought with it a steady stream of emigrants and started to build the cosmopolitan character of the city. By 1664, the city had a population of 10,000. The city was renamed New York after James II of England, the Duke of York and Duke of Albany, who claimed the region at the time.
The Dutch attacked the English troops stationed in the city with a fleet of 21 ships and regained control over New Amsterdam in 1673. At the time they renamed the city New Orange. The English permanently took possession of the city by a treaty with the Dutch in 1674 and the city reverted to its name, New York. The century to come, would soon propel the city to much greater heights.
New York City played an important role in the American Revolutionary War. The Battle of Long Island, fought in Brooklyn, was not only the first major conflict after the Declaration of American Independence in July 1776, but was also the largest battle in the revolutionary war in terms of the number of soldiers involved. The city became the capital of the United States between 1785 and 1790. George Washington, the first President of the US assumed his presidency here on April 30, 1789. By the early 19th century, NYC became the largest city in the US. The five boroughs of New York – Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx – were consolidated in 1898 to form the modern city as we now know it. In the 1920s, NYC outgrew London as the most populous urbanized area in the world. Through the rest of the century, the city grew into a dominant world-class city that invited immigrants from almost all corners of the globe. In the early part of the 21st century, NYC came under the spotlight for having suffered the greatest damages of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; both the losses in terms of casualties (2,978 deaths) and economic damages affected NYC the most.
With a population of about 8,336,697 residents, NYC is now the most populous city in the US and also one of the most densely populated around the world. It is one of the best-developed global cities and is now the headquarters to the United Nations. Over 55 million visitors head to NYC each year. An important center for higher education, technology, culture, fashion, and international diplomacy, New York City also houses one of the premier global stock markets at Wall Street. The New York Stock Exchange influences the financial markets of the United States and the rest of the world. New York has often been called the most photographed city in the world. It is a potpourri of many international cultures with as many as 800 languages spoken here. Times Square, referred to as “The Crossroads of the World”, is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections. It is a major hub of the world’s entertainment industry. The growth of NYC from its humble origins as New Amsterdam has been quite phenomenal.
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