If given half a chance I can prattle on like tour guide about the rich history of New York City’s boroughs but especially on the topic of the Dutch heritage as it utterly fascinates me having been to the Netherlands and seen the wealth the mighty merchant seafaring empire created and grown to love New York in a number of trips to the city over the years.

Henry Hudson is probably more familiar to Canadians for the bay that bears his name which he discovered in 1611 while trying to navigate a Northwest Passage to Cathay (China) but it was two years earlier on September 11, 1609 while employed by Dutch merchants that he sailed into what we now call Upper New York Bay while working for the Dutch East India Company searching for an Asia passage and explored  the river that also bears his name. Word of Hudson’s voyage helped lay the groundwork for Dutch founding of Fort Amsterdam in 1625 with the surrounding colony later named Nieuw Amsterdam before the English wrested permanent control of the colony in 1675 and renamed it New York after the English Duke of York, the future King James II.

The map below shows the Dutch colony complete with Fort Amsterdam upper left and a stout earthen wall running north and south forming the northern boundary offering some protection from both local native Americans and English colonial advances. The rough road that ran beside the wall was naturally called Wall Street and that name remains in use to this day although the only raiding conducted these days is of the corporate variety.


Map of New Amsterdam, c. 1660. Source: New York Historical Society, Maps Collection. Reuse permitted by Public Domain.

New York Stock Exchange located at 11 Wall Street


I had visited the inside of the stock exchange on a trip in 1998 but visitor access is no longer allowed due to security concerns.

Wall Street is but one of dozens of street, district and borough names that can trace their origin back to the Dutch including Brooklyn (Breukelen), The Bronx (named for Jonas Bronck), Staten Island (Staten Land), Harlem (Haarlem), Flushing (Vlissingen with the ‘V’ pronounced like an ‘F’ in Dutch), the Bowery (bouwerij), Long Island (Lange Eiland), Broadway (de Brede Weg), Coney Island (Konijneneiland  or ‘rabbit island’), Bleecker Street (blekers), Dutch Kills in Queens (kill meaning ‘little stream’ in Dutch) and Bedford-Stuyvesant – BedStuy for short – named for the last  director general of the  Dutch colony, Peter Stuyvesant.

Other than the names very little remains of the 17th century Dutch colony save for Wyckoff House, a home thought to have been built around 1652 which is now located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie.


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Wyckoff House by Dmadeo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The Wyckoff Museum is open to the public by guided tour only offering visitors a glimpse into life in the 17th century when all this area was a rural farmland and not the densely populated area it is today. The Wyckoff House is a registered New York Landmark as well as U.S. national Historic Landmark and there is more about it and the tracing of the Dutch influence in New York City in this excellent ifly TV video.

Creative Commons Licence
Dutch heritage in New York by iFly TV is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.