"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What if New York was still called Nieuw Amsterdam?

Maybe I am not much of a history buff, but I was shocked to learn that what we now know as the city of New York used to be called Nieuw Amsterdam. I first heard about this probably well-known fact when the newest Holland America ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam, was christened. I read about the ship and the history of the city. I found a photo on wikipedia of Nieuw Amsterdam harbor taken in 1664 as seen below. Note the windmill in the background. 

1664 photo of what is now New York harbor

According to wikipedia, Great Britain took Nieuw Amsterdam and the Dutch took Suriname in their agreement. Now I don't know about you, but I think a whole lot more people know about New York City than they do about Suriname.

Readers, my question is, what do you think New York would be like if it were still called Nieuw Amsterdam? 

More information on the history of Nieuw Amsterdam can be found here.

An exerpt from wikipedia:
"On August 27, 1664, while England and the Dutch Republic were at peace, four English frigates sailed into New Amsterdam's harbor and demanded New Netherland's surrender, whereupon New Netherland was provisionally ceded by director-general Peter Stuyvesant. This resulted in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, between England and the Dutch Republic. In June 1665, New Amsterdam was reincorporated under English law as New York City, named after the Duke of York(later King James II). He was brother of the English King Charles II, who had been granted the lands.

In 1667 the Treaty of Breda ended the conflict. The Dutch did not press their claims on New Netherland. In return, they were granted the tiny Island of Run in North Maluku, rich in nutmegs and the guarantee for the factual possession of Suriname, that year captured by them.
In July 1673, During the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch occupied New York City and renamed it New Orange. Anthony Colve was installed as the first Governor. Previously there had only been West India Company Directors. After the signing of the Treaty of Westminsterin November 1674, the city was relinquished to the English and the name reverted to "New York". Suriname became an official Dutch possession in return."

So it took three Anglo-Dutch wars for the city to be named New York. Wow, I never knew. How many of you knew this?

There is even a ranger-led walking tour offered by the New York Harbor Parks. Starting at Castle Clinton and ending at Federal Hall, the one hour walking tour through lower Manhattan tells of the first group of Dutch settlers. More information on this tour can be found here.

Another tour is offered by a company that I follow their blog ... Lower Manhattan tour from Real New York Tours. I will be in New York in a few months and will definitely try to take this tour.

And by the way, happy New Year!


  1. Reading on New York Tours site, it seems many people do not know the history of New York. Great post!

  2. I know, Heather. Maybe I am not so ignorant after all. LOL :)