The Dutch West India Company founded New York in 1624. The original name was Nieuw Amsterdam. The Dutch established the first settlement on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan. In 1664, the British conquered this settlement, and they changed its name to New York.
New York became the home town of the British for almost the entire duration of the war of independence. The city played a significant role as the most strategic British foothold during that war.
How New York City was built
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the importance of the port of New York increased considerably. The cause was the opening of the Erie Canal. Finally, a canal connected the Hudson valley with Lake Erie and therefore connected the whole of the Great Lakes region with the Atlantic coast.
Thanks to this channel, New York became the main landing point for goods and immigrants from Europe. Many of the new arrivals settled in the city. The population of New York grew dramatically as the city offered more jobs than anywhere in the world.
Between 1874 and 1898, the borders of New York City grew substantially. Until then, they included only Manhattan but soon expanded to include the Bronx. During 1874 and part of 1895, it finished inglobing the Bronx as well as the other three districts.
The big changes
To understand how New York City was built, you need to understand a couple of things. Native Americans occupied this land before the Dutch arrived. It was the Native Americans who gave the name Manhattan to that area. The name describes it as the island of the hills.
The Dutch didn’t just clear the area from marshes and swamps. They also brought their customs and traditions to that land, and windmills too. Lower Manhattan soon became the financial center of the town. A high fence divided it from the rest of the city.
They created roads that still exist today, like Broadway and Wall Street. Broadway was home to humble people. Wall Street got its name from the demolition of the wall that divided the city. Central Park was simply one swamp, among many others.
Due to the very high land prices on the island of Manhattan, between the 1920s and the 1930s, builders began to build taller buildings, the so-called skyscrapers. Today, they remain one of the most iconic features of the skyline of the city. The most famous of these is probably the Empire State Building, completed in 1931. It held the Guinness world record as the tallest building in the world until 1973.
Only in the eighteenth century, the city introduced noticeable changes. The first changes concerned land reclamation to obtain land for the growing population. More people means more confusion, and with the arrival of the eighteenth century, the city saw its most turbulent period.
Two other famous skyscrapers, the twin towers of the World Trade Center got their notoriety sadly because of another salient episode in the history of New York, the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, which led to their collapse and the death of about 2800 people.