11    Sep 20094 comments

New York’s Dutch Roots

Click to view photo in full sizeWhen thinking about New York and its history, many of you may think of the Empire state building, the city's yellow cabs, 9/11 or the many communities that make up New York: the Italians, the Irish or the Eastern European Jewish communities.

Interestingly, however, while the Dutch have had a sizeable influence in shaping the city, sending a sizeable community the 'New World's' way.

In fact they can be considered the founders of the city of New York because 400 years ago this month, a man named Henry Hudson sailed on a Dutch ship called the Half Moon (a replica of which you see on the photo here) into what later became New York Harbor. He sailed by what is now Manhattan on his way to finding a western route to India. It was the prelude to the establishment of a Dutch trading settlement called New Amsterdam. Today's New York.

The Dutch are celebrating the anniversary of this historical event this year

with a series of festivities in New York including cultural events and quintessential Dutch traditions such as free bike riding around the city, as well as an official visit by Mayor of Amsterdam, the Dutch Royal family and two Dutch Navy frigates.

The celebrations are about continuing the economic, military and cultural ties between the city and the Netherlands. And about reminding New Yorkers of their past, which is well visible in the names of well known neighbourhoods such as Harlem (the Dutch Harlem is just above Amsterdam) or Staten Island (in Dutch Staaten Eylandt) and emphasise how the Dutch have played a role in what went on to become one of the most powerful nations of the world.

The celebrations will undoubtedly have some New Yorkers inspired to look into their past, possibly tracing there lineage back to the Dutch settlers that started New Amsterdam. One way of doing that is obviously signing up with our site, which has over 30 databases in which to search Dutch surnames. And if you want to get some ideas on how to conduct your research, you can have a look at some of the posts we wrote about tracing your Dutch roots, and Dutch surnames in English.

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Very nice post on one of the most exciting cities in the world. Yours is a very interesting piece of historical information!
  2. Thanks Nicolas. Hope others will be inspired too!
  3. This information is very interesting and timely for me. I have been doing genealogy research on branches of my family - our English branch arrived in the New World in 1629. My great -grandmother was a Courtright (also Van Kortryk, Van Cortright, etc). Our ancestors arrived from Beest in Gelderland, Holland and arrived in New Amsterdam in 1663 on the ship Spotted Cow. They initially bought land in the village of Harlem and had a farm on Staten Island. I will be visiting my daughter in Manhattan in October, so I was interested to hear that there may be some historical celebrations of the Dutch.
  4. When I hear about this history, it brings me back to middle school and high svhool. Its very interesting to learn about how citys were discovered and settled down.

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