Bird's eye panorama of Manhattan in 1873. The Brooklyn Bridge was under construction from 1870 until 1883.

A Brief History of a Dutch Island - Manhattan

(Read the article on one page)

Today, Manhattan is one of the iconic locations of the United States of America. It is also the place where New York was born. However, the origins of Manhattan are often forgotten these days. Modern Manhattan's history is related to people who conquered many colonies – the Dutch.

Nowadays, the island has a population of 1,626 million people (2013). It is the heart of New York City, and a symbol of the USA. Its name comes from the Algonquian language, which was spoken by the earliest inhabitants of the area. The name means ''hilly island'' or ''place of intoxication''.

The Land of Lenape

The area of Manhattan first belonged to the Native American tribe Lenape. This tribe is known also as the Delaware Indians, and they created the First Nations band government. Their territory included the area of New Jersey, the Lower Hudson Valley, the Delaware River, and western Long Island. Europeans pushed them out of their land during the 18th century.

Lapowinsa, Chief of the Lenape, Lappawinsoe painted by Gustavus Hesselius in 1735.

Lapowinsa, Chief of the Lenape, Lappawinsoe painted by Gustavus Hesselius in 1735. ( Public Domain )

Map showing the territory of the Native American tribe Lenape.

Map showing the territory of the Native American tribe Lenape. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The first European who landed on the island of Manhattan was the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. He was sailing in the service of the king of France and arrived to the current location of New York in 1524. He came on his ship La Dauphine and named the land around the modern Upper New York Harbor ''New Angouleme''.

This was a way to honor the King Francis I, because the name referred to his family name. Verrazano also named the Upper New York Bay as Marguerite de Navarre – the name of the elder sister of the king. A few months later, a Portuguese explorer, Estevan Gomez (who also “discovered” the Hudson River) arrived to the same place.

Verrazzano’s voyage in 1524.

Verrazzano’s voyage in 1524. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

A Dutch Englishman

In 1609, an Englishman who worked for the Dutch East India Company, Henry Hudson, reached Manhattan Island. Before his feet touched this area, he traveled through many lands and oceans. He wanted to find a prospective North-West Passage to Cathay, in modern China, and traveled to the Arctic Circle.

This speculative portrait from Cyclopedia of Universal History is one of several used to represent Henry Hudson.

This speculative portrait from Cyclopedia of Universal History is one of several used to represent Henry Hudson. ( Public Domain )

Hudson found the area of modern New York while looking for a western route to Asia. He was hired by a company, which was a chartered company that existed from 1602 to 1799 and is considered as the first multinational corporation of the world. They possessed quasi-governmental powers like the ability to wage war, negotiate treaties, establish colonies, imprison and execute people, and strike their own coins. The power of the company grew on the decision of the Dutch government, which granted it a 21-year monopoly on the spice trade. The Dutch East India Company was looking for new routes to make travel time shorter and their business more effective. The first Dutch settlements were just small camps, based on very primitive buildings.

Henry Hudson explored the Hudson River, which was named after him. He started the great history of the Dutch colony in New York. When he died, perhaps in 1611, he was already considered a hero by many people. He was a founder of the Dutch colonization of the region, but he also researched the Northwest Passage. He disappeared with his crew during while exploring.

Map of Hudson's voyages to North America.

Map of Hudson's voyages to North America. (CC BY-SA 3.0 )

When the Dutch Bought Manhattan

Manhattan became a part of the land known as the New Netherlands - a colonial province located on the East Coast of North America which covered the territory from the Delmarca Peninsula to Cape Cod, and included the territory of modern New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, parts of Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

In 1625, the Dutch began construction on the citadel of Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan Island, which was called New Amsterdam at the time. During this period a mysterious story appeared. According to a letter signed by Pieter Janszoon Schagen, the Dutch colonists acquired Manhattan officially on May 24, 1626. They bought it from the Native American Lenape tribe for trade goods worth 60 guilders, said to be worth 24 dollars. In 2014, that was about 1,050 USD. In the 1630s, a Dutch expedition went from New Amsterdam up the Connecticut River. That started a conflict between the Dutch and the English, who were already in Connecticut Valley.


Bought by a Belgian : Pierre Minuit (of French speaking extraction).

It is like here in the Western Cape, South Africa, which was also a Dutch and then British colony. It was Dutch from 1652 until 1795, and again from 1803 until 1805. So, longer than in New York area. One can for instance compare the influences of two places. The USA and South African have also overall had similar histories.

Yes Rudi there is Dutch influence even today in NYK. I was amazed to see a subway station there called VAN WYK (US pronounce it as Van Wick...yikes!) vice Fahn Vake.
Also front porches are STOEPS, sounds familiar?
The Bronx is a bad pronunciation of the Dutch surname Bronkhorst.
Tot Siens, Joburg

Brooklyn is named after Dutch city of Breukelen.
Wallstreet is Muurstraat.
Yankee is Jan-Kees (Dutch persons names).
Cookie is koek(ie).
Dyke is dijk and you could go on and on....
New York is a real sister city of Amsterdam: alive and tolerant.
The New York Times has often articles concercerning the Netherlands.
The US had even a Dutchman as president.
The USA flag is red-white-blue, same like the Dutch flag (except the stars).
Many famous Americans like artists, army officers, government people are of Dutch descendant.
Independent America was first recognized by the Dutch from the Dutch-Caribbean island of St. Eustatius.
The declaration of Independence is said a copy of a Dutch document.

Manhattan was bought, and also where other colonies, from the locals.
The Dutch culture back than was Reformation. The New Netherlands project discovered that freed slaves would live there also. The Netherlands had the Dutch United East India Company as a military tool during the 80-Year war against Roman Catholics, that controlled Spain and Portugal back than. In that way, is can not be compared to current Multinationals, because the United East India Company was working on orders of a government, that had freed itself from a multinational Tyranny by romanists.


Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article