In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian exploring for France, sailed into the New York Harbor. He was the first European to enter the harbor. Although Verrazano explored the area, no Europeans decided to settle or further explore the area until much later (Microsoft, New York).
The Dutch East India Company hired Henry Hudson, an Englishman, to explore northern America in search for a Northwest Passage to Asia. On September 3, 1609 he and his crew sailed into the New York Harbor on the Half Moon. After further exploration he sailed as far as Albany on the Hudson River, which naturally was named after him (Microsoft, New York).
The Dutch East India Company established the first permanent settlement in what is now New York City in 1624. A group of French-speaking Walloons came from Europe in the New Netherland. Almost all of the 110 men, women, and children continued on to Fort Orange, but about eight people stayed on Manhattan Island (Purvis, ?).
Soon, in 1625, the small Island community was backed up by more families, and was named community New Amsterdam. The same year the Dutch West India Company made New Amsterdam its North American trade headquarters (Purvis, ?).
For a while the colonists suffered good and bad times. Problems with the Indians and to many traders compared to the amount of people who really wanted to settle the colony and build farms. They lived in rude dugouts and bark huts clustered around a trading fort. But gradually things got better. The emphasis changed from completely trading to only partial. They began growing crops and wooden houses were replacing the huts. They started acting like New Amsterdam was their home (Rich, 49).
After several years the Dutch began really feeling like this was their home. This is when their life started getting a lot better. They got permanent houses like they had had in Holland. The houses were either built from red or yellow brick or wood with brick ends. The houses were tall and narrow with the side walls rising higher than the front one, and going down in steps, creating a sloping roof of thatch. Some houses were created with fancy brick patterns, and the owners name imprinted in the bricks. Soon red tiles replaced the thatch because the thatch caught fire too easily (Rich, 51).
The Dutch houses also had many other things different about them. The houses had doors with a lower and higher half of the door that opened separately. This allowed airflow without the door being opened. Another difference about Dutch houses is that they had steops. A steop is a porch without a hangover. These housing styles are still seen in some places today (Rich, 51-52.
New Netherlands first official was Peter Minuit. He arrived on May 4, 1626 and served as director general. Minuit set up Fort Amsterdam to protect the citizens from Indians, and the British. He later purchased Manhattan Island from the Canarsee Indians in 1626, for a mere 60 guilders ($24). Because of differences with the Dutch India Company, he was recalled to Europe in 1631. Later in 1637, he went back to America and built Fort Christina in what is now Wilmington, Delaware. A few months later he died at sea in a hurricane (Microsoft, Minuit).
The French initially were on good relationship with the Indians, but when settlers started taking more and more of Manhattan Island things changed. Although at first disputes were minor, Dutch cattle wandering onto Indian cornfields, an Indian dog attacking Dutch livestock, things really got bad when the Dutch tried taxing the Indians to help pay for building Fort Amsterdam. The Indians refused to pay (Americana, 237).
William Kieft, the third governor of New Amsterdam, responded by attacking an Indian village, killing more than 100 men, women, and children. The Indians counterattacked and the war lasted for two years before the Indians were forced to peace. He is also known for buying large amounts of land, for New Amsterdam (Americana, 237).
One person who was most responsible for making New York prosper was Peter Stuyvesant. Serving as director general after William Kieft, he improved the city. Stuyvesant straightened the streets, fixed fences and built a canal through the town. Under Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam began, for the first time, to have religious tolerance (Americana, 237).
Although the Dutch Reformed Church didnt like the religious freedom, but the government or the population didnt care if and where you went to church. Religious diversity spread through out New Amsterdam (Americana, 237). Today Roman Catholics have the largest amount, claiming 45% of religious adherents. The second largest group is Protestants followed by Jews. One quarter of American Jews live there (Microsoft, New York).
The Indians or the citizens of New Amsterdam did not like Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant did settle boundary disputes between the English and the Dutch, but he restrained the Indians in doing so. The citizens hated him because of his harsh policies and heavy taxes. By persuading the authorities in the Netherlands, the citizens were able to get a municipal government, in which they limited his power (Microsoft, Stuyvesant).
While Stuyvesant was governor, British and Dutch relations worsened. King Charles II decided to send his brother, James, duke of York, to take over New Netherland. James II landed in New York Bay on in 1644. Stuyvesant tried to convince the citizens to fight, but they surrendered to the British because the preferred British rule over the rule of Stuyvesant (Microsoft, Stuyvesant).
In honor of the duke of York, the British renamed New Amsterdam to New York and set up a strong-mayor type government. Under the government, the Mayor appointed the heads of city departments, members of commissions, judges of the Criminal Court, and many other offices. The average citizen had little influence or say in the government (Dictionary of American History, ?).
Ten years later the Dutch recaptured New York and named it New Orange, and reintroduced their government. However the Dutch soon gave it back to the British in the Treaty of Westminster in 1674 and it was renamed New York (Americana, 237).
The British re-setup their government and required all citizens to swear allegiance to Great Britain. The new government also required that all legal proceedings be in English, instead of one of the other eighteen languages (Americana, 237).
The Governors of New York gave away huge grants of land to their friends. This resulted in few landowners. Many of the landowners werent interested in population New York so growth was limited to or close to large cities. Some of the landowners had complete control over their land and turned them into manors, some what like the feudalism. One of these manors was 700,000 acres and covered central Manhattan Island from coast to coast. Although this slowed down growth, New York still grew at a slightly slower pace (Microsoft, New York).
In 1683, James granted, through Governor Thomas Dongan, a guarantee of representative legislature and personal freedoms. When James became King James II in 1685, he disallowed the charter and added New York to his multi-colony Dominion of New England (Microsoft, New York).
Some people werent happy with the government of New York. One of these men was Jacob Leisler, who had come to New Netherland as a soldier and then married a wealthy widow. He led a local revolt against the Jamess policies and established a government of his own. He considered himself a representative of Dutch residents who had lost power to British newcomers. Soon he seized control of Fort James (Americana, 237).
In 1691 King William III, who had succeeded James II, sent Colonel Henry Sloughter to take charge of New York. Sloughter sailed to Fort James and forced Leisler to surrender. Sloughter set up a special court to try Leisler. He was convicted of treason and was executed. King William III restored Dongans guarantee of a representative legislature and personal freedom (Microsoft, New York).
The next important event in New Yorks history was the slave revolt of 1741. At the time nearly 20% of the population was black. The slaves were generally treated bad, and were punished harshly. In 1741 fires swept through New York and it was rumored that the slaves had started it. The arrest of 174 people, of whom 154 were slaves, led to the execution of 32 blacks and four whites (Americana, 237-238).
Public services appeared around 1736. To deal with the growth of the city and the problem of poverty housing facilities were created. Soon a police force and volunteer fire department followed (Americana, 238).
New York has had one of the best and oldest educational systems. In 1784 a governing body, called the board of regents, was given control of secondary and higher education. Later in 1824, and school system was established.It had school districts in each town. In 1904 the two combined to form the State Education Department. It controlled primary, secondary, and higher public education, and it supervised private schools. The board sets such things as standards for state diplomas (Microsoft, New York).
On July 26, 1788, New York became the 11th state to join the United States. Since then New York has continued growing and New York City is one of the biggest cities in the United States (Americana, 23*)