The History of New York
One of the largest and most populous cities in the United States of America does not have as rich a history as many European cities, but its history is nevertheless very interesting. In 2009, the city of New York celebrated its one hundred and eleventh anniversary.
Although most people think that New York is all about modern buildings and sky-high skyscrapers, this is not the case. Upon arrival, many are surprised by how many colorful architecture and how many historic houses the city abounds.
According to ASK4BEAUTY, in ancient times, numerous Indian tribes lived on the territory of today’s New York, which were first discovered here in 1524 by the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano. The first settlement was founded on the southern edge of Manhattan Island in 1625 by the Dutch, who named it Nieuw Amsterodam – New Amsterdam. A year later, the first slaves were brought here from Africa, and settler leader Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for about $24 worth of trinkets, clothing, blankets, and other items. In 1628, the first Marble Collegiate Church was founded here, which still stands today. In 1639, the Dutchman Johannes Bronck settled north of Manhattan, where he founded another settlement, which became the basis for the creation of today’s Bronx urban district. These early colonists traded here mainly in beaver furs, which were then used to make hats in their native land.
With the arrival of 1664, the British took over control of the island, who named the emerging town in honor of the English King James II. originating from York, they renamed it New York. However, under British rule, the city did not flourish much and was not one of the prosperous ones. During the so-called Glorious Revolution in 1688, the Roman Catholic King James was deposed and this caused confusion in the governance of New York. For almost two years, the city was ruled by German merchant and militia officer Jacob Leisler, who was eventually imprisoned and executed. He was replaced by the new king William III.
The whole 18th century was spent in the spirit of the struggle for the rights of the colonists. In 1754, King’s College – today’s Columbia University – was founded in lower Manhattan. There was also much controversy over the so-called Stamp Act, which required the use of tax stamps in all business transactions. This led to protests and violent clashes. On October 7, 1765, the city of New York sent a message to London denying Parliament’s right to tax the colonies without their consent. The main actors of the protests were a group calling themselves the Sons of Liberty. There were numerous attacks on the homes and properties of British officials. In 1766, the tension calmed down, but it did not last long, and the very next year there was an armed skirmish between soldiers and citizens. This skirmish is considered the first bloody battle of the revolution. This was followed by the imposition of taxes on tea.
The next two years were relatively calm, but it was only the calm before the storm. The people of New York knew that if war broke out, their city would become a battlefield because of its strategic location. Unfortunately, they didn’t get away with it, and New York became the scene of a series of battles known as the New York Campaign during the American Revolutionary War. The British occupied the city from 1776 to 1783. During this time, around 600 buildings were destroyed and more than 60 thousand people left. The city thus became a camp for American prisoners of war. Everything was working in England’s favor and it looked like the British would continue to hold their sway over the city.
It was not until 1781 that fortunes turned in favor of the Americans when Lord Cornwallis surrendered. After the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, New York was liberated and American independence was recognized at the same time. In 1789, Congress met in New York to elect the first American president, George Washington. It was inaugurated in the Federal Hall building on Wall Street. At that time, New York was the capital of the state of the same name and at the same time of the entire United States of America. In 1790, it was decided to move the capital to Albany.
In the 19th century, the city began to develop rapidly and the number of inhabitants also increased. Before long, New York, with its 123,706 inhabitants, was the largest city in the country. Until 1811, the city was built completely randomly, buildings and houses had no order. A significant step forward was therefore the Commissioner’s Plan, thanks to which the city was supposed to get a networked and clear layout. 12 avenues were to run from north to south, intersecting numerous cross streets. The only road breaking all the rules was to become Blooming Road – today’s Broadway. This is how unusual Manhattan triangular squares such as Times Square or Herald Square were created.
Many buildings from this post-war period have also been preserved, such as Clinton Castle (1812), City Hall (1812), Federal Hall (1842) or the Holy Trinity Church (1846). Many important institutions also began to emerge here, for example the New York Stock Exchange or the Bank of New York, which today is one of the largest financial institutions in the country. New York gradually turned into the most important business center of America.
In addition, the entire 19th century was a period of great influx of immigrants and foreigners from perhaps all corners of the world for the city. As slavery still existed until 1827, there was a significant black community in Manhattan and many other parts of the metropolis. In 1835, tragedy struck the city in the form of a large fire that destroyed more than 600 buildings. During the Civil War, the people of New York did not get very involved, but in 1863 the first drafts were called anyway. Outcry over conscription for the Civil War sparked the largest civil disobedience in New York City history. Enraged mobs attacked police officers, destroyed offices and ransacked the houses of Republicans. It didn’t take long for the violence to turn against blacks who were killed and even a black orphanage was burned down. These riots, lasting approximately three days, are considered the most violent in the country’s history.
After the end of the civil war, the city experienced a boom, both economically and culturally. Many institutions were built, such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and the New York Botanical Gardens. In 1886, the Statue of Liberty was erected, and two years later, the first skyscraper, the Tower Building, was built. Its construction started one of the biggest building booms in the country’s history, and New York has never been the same. In 1897, the city limits were formed and the boroughs of Brooklyn, New York, Richmond and Queens were united.
In the 20th century, New York becomes the largest center of industry and trade, the city of skyscrapers and the most populated city in the world. In 1904, the construction of the subway began, which significantly contributed to the unification of the entire city. Today it is one of the most important transport structures in the world and transports around 5 million people every day. In 1916, New York became home to the largest black community in North America when descendants of slaves from the southern states began to move here. The 1960s were marked by economic problems, rising crime and racial unrest. People used to settle their accounts with guns on the streets, there were more than 200 haunted houses in the city, and criminal elements from the wider area moved here. Only in the 1990s did the situation calm down, which led to a reduction in crime and another mass influx of immigrants from Asia and Latin America.
The date September 11, 2001, was written into modern history in black letters, when two airliners crashed into the buildings of the World Trade Center during a terrorist attack, killing almost 3,000 people. It was a blow not only to the city, but to the entire American nation, and New York thus became a symbol of the war on terrorists. The place where the skyscrapers stood is today called Ground Zero, and a new skyscraper with the poetic name Freedom Tower is being built on it. According to the plans, it should be completed in 2012, that is eleven years after the tragedy.