New York City History

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History of New York City, New York

In 1524, Italian Giovanni Di Verrazzano first explored the New York Harbor. Prior to his arrival the Manhattan area was inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans. Although Verrazzano was the first European explorer to visit New York City, Dutch explorer, Henry Hudson, is credited with bringing Europe to the area in 1609. For the next 20 years the Dutch inhabited the area and called it “New Amsterdam.” The Dutch continued to settle “New Amsterdam” until 1664 when British ships took control and renamed it “New York.”

New York grew in importance as a trading port under British rule. In 1754 George II of Great Britain founded Columbia University in Lower Manhattan. During the Revolutionary War, a series of battles were fought in New York. It was not until 1783 that the British left New York City. By 1788 New York City became the first capitol of the newly formed United States of America. In 1789 George Washington became President of the United States at Federal Hall on Wall Street. New York remained the capitol of the U.S. until 1790 when the honor moved to Philadelphia.

New York continued to grow as an economic center. The New York Stock Exchange opened on Wall Street just before the new century. The Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and also caused great economic impact on the state of New York. Immigration resumed and the Great Irish Famine brought a large amount of Irish immigrants to New York. By 1850 the Irish made up one quarter of the city’s population.

During the 1840’s and 1850’s public schools were founded, as was the New York City Police Department- both in response to the growing population. The mid-1800s were also plagued by disease, political corruption, a weak economy and the growth of local gangs. During the Civil War (1861-1865) the city had divided sympathy for both the Union and the Confederacy, which led to the Draft Riots of 1863. The Draft Riots were a series of violent disturbances in the city in which at least 120 civilians were killed and many more injured.

In 1886 the Statue of Liberty was built by the French and given as a gift to America. The statue greeted many foreigners as they reached Ellis Island in search of a better life.

The 1900s in New York City are mostly known as a time of prosperity. The New York Subway opened in 1904, skyscrapers and bridges were built, and Grand Central Terminal opened. The city became a world center for communication and industry.

On March 25, 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Greenwich Village took the lives of 146 garment workers. Seven years earlier over 1,000 people were killed when a steamship caught fire and burned. Both events led to improvements in the city’s fire department.

In October of 1929 Wall Street suffered one of its worst days ever as the stock market collapsed. This sparked the beginning of the Great Depression. After the end of World War II the economy finally started getting back into shape. New York then emerged as the world’s leading city.

During the 1960’s New York suffered from race riots, gangs and industrial decline. The 1970’s were not much better for the city as the country was in a recession and the crime rates were high. By the 1980’s Wall Street was in much better condition but the crime continued. During the 1990’s the NYPD started new crime fighting techniques and cleaned up the city. New York also experienced much financial success.

On September 11, 2001 the world changed when terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,800 people. A new World Trade Center along with a memorial and three other office towers will be built on the site and is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

New York is currently the most populous city in the United States. In 2008 the population exceeded 8.3 million people. It is a leading city in the world with powerful influence over global commerce, finance, media, fashion, art, research, culture, education, and entertainment.

New York City Timeline

1524- Giovanni Di Verrazzano explores New York Harbor

1609- Dutch explorer, Henry Hudson, inhabits area

1664- British take over and name the area “New York”

1735- John Peter Zenger Trial; helps establish Freedom of the Press

1754- Columbia University founded

1783- British leave New York following Revolutionary War

1788- New York City becomes capitol of United States

1789- George Washington inaugurated at Federal Hall on Wall Street

1825- Completion of the Erie Canal

1850- Great Irish Famine brings many Irish Immigrants to New York City

1857- Opening of Central Park

1863- Draft Riots during Civil War

1904- Over 1,000 people killed in steamship fire

1904- First New York Subway opens

1911- Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

1929- Stock market crashes

1951- New York emerges as world’s leading city

1977- New York City Blackout

2001- Attack of World Trade Center

2008- Population reaches 8.3 million people