Highlights of the Dutch Settlement and Streets in Old New York Part I


In 1614 a charter or monopoly of trading was granted by the States-General to an Amsterdam Association, and the territory was recognized for the first time under its new name of "Nieuw Nederland," which comprised the region, as set forth in the charter, between "New France and Virginia, the sea coast whereof extend from the 40th to the 45th of latitude."

In 1621 an exclusive charter, with almost sovereign powers, was given to the Dutch West India Company. This company immediately began the business of colonization and the construction of buildings for the occupation of the colonists, and sent out cattle and farming materials and implements. By the charter the West India Company became the immediate sovereign of new Netherlands, subject to the general supervision and control of the States-General, in whom the ultimate sovereignty resided, and to whom allegiance was sworn.

In 1626 Peter Minuit, one of the early directors purchased the island of Manhattan, for the Company, from the Indians, for sixty guilders, or about twenty-four dollars. The sum of twenty-four dollars, paid in wampum, was doubtless quite satisfactory to the Red man, who had most of the Continent at his disposal; and it is to be remarked that the dealings of our Dutch ancestors with the aborigines was characterized by a rigid regard for their rights, whatever they were, and no title was deemed vested and no right absolutely claimed, until satisfaction to the savage owner was made.

At this time, in the city of New York, the colonists lived in log-houses. Also visible were one or two buildings belonging to the Company and a block house for defense against the red men. Little "bouweries" or farms began to spring up even on adjacent shores, Long Island and Monacknong. The steady industry of the white man, gave bloom and beauty to the barren land. Lands were given to settlers, religious freedom guaranteed, and the tide of immigration began rapidly to flow.

Extensive meadow or marsh land, known subsequently as Stuyvesant meadow or swamp, extended from 14th street down to Houston street.

Near the present Tombs in Centre street, was a large pond or lake of fresh water, subsequently called the "Kalck-hoeck," with verdant hills and sloping banks. This pond was connected with the East River by a rivulet called the Versch Water, or fresh water, running eastward and crossing Chatham between Pearl and Roosevelt streets. An extensive swamp extended north of the present Laight street, subsequently called Lispenard's swamp or meadows, and joined the Kalck-hoeck to the north of that pond.

A marsh also lay between Exchange Place, William and New streets, called the "Company's Valley," whose waters were drained by the great ditches in Broad and Beaver streets. A swamp or marsh also extended over parts of Cherry, James and Catharine streets; and what was subsequently Beekman swamp covered what is still known as "The Swamp," over the region about Ferry and Cliff and Frankfort streets.

Wolves roamed at large through the wilderness. Difficulties with the red men at times brought rapine and ruin. The desolating war with the Indians, initiated through the unwise policy of Gov. Kieft, lasted nearly five years with hardly a temporary cessation and "Nieuw Amsterdam" became nearly depopulated.

The City of "Nieuw Amsterdam," sometimes called the town of the Manhadoes," or "Manhattans," or of the "Manatthanes," the capital of New Netherlands, somewhere about the period between 1658 and 1660, was under the administration of his Excellency Petrus Stuyvesant, the last of the Dutch Governors, and a few years before the surrender of the province to the English.

New Amsterdam at this time contained 220 houses and a population of about 1,400, among whom it is said there were spoken eighteen different tongues. The greater part of the houses were of wood, covered with reeds or shingles, some them with wooden chimneys; others, of a more pretentious character, were built of little shiny, yellow, glazed bricks, baked in Holland,. There were a few residences built of stone. Outside, under projecting eaves, was the "stoep," the place of social interchange and domestic repose. The small size of the lower windows, indicated a residence amid peril and apprehension of the savage foe.

At one end, in an alcove, is the great four-posted family bedstead, the pride of the house, the family heirloom covered with its patchwork quilt in front of flowered curtains. In another place is the great cedar chest, where reposes the valued store of household linen. The fire-place, where the family would gather close to it, feeling its warmth as the master of the house would read from the old bible or tell his stories. There was always work to be done as the loom made home-spun cloth. Though these homes were humble they were filled with scenes of content where the family circle formed a tie of strength as they worked together being industrious at all times.

The corner of Broadway at the head of Wall__at the old city gate, called the Land-gate, closed nightly by the city watch, where was the outlet from the city walls or palisades, called the "CINGEL," running a little north of the line of the present Wall street. These palisades were originally erected for defense against the savages, under Governor Kieft's administration.

Residents of the area were Dominie Megapolensis, Peter Simkan the tailor, and Jan Joostan the skipper, and Jan Stevenson the schoolmaster, and the tavern of the doughty captain and ex-burgomaster, Martin Cregier. On the east side of Broadway, going down from Wall, the proximity of the marsh, or Company's Valley, called "Schaap-Waytie," or sheep's walk or pasture, a swampy meadow surrounded by ills, running from Wall street and Exchange Place to Broad and Beaver, not making the east as desirable as was the west side. One of these hills was called "Verlettenberg" and terminated the little canal that led up Broad street. This name was subsequently converted into "Flattenbarach" Hill.

The movement of the cattle from the highways to this meadow made the then rural path, or Schaap-waytie, which now is known under the more business-like title of Exchange Place, and was known, under the English regime as Garden street.

This region was drained by the ditches dug on the site of Broad and Beaver. The old ditch, the "BEVER-GRAFT" or "STRAAT," which, east of Broad street, was known as "DE PRINCE STRAAT." On this street lived many well-to-do citizens.

Passing down Broadway, we come to what was called the 'OBLIQUE ROAD," also the 'MARCKVELT-STEEGIE," or the MARKETFIELD path, now still Marketfield street. This road or path led from the Broad street canal to the MARCKVELT, or market-place on the east side of Whitehall street, near Stone street, and extending as far up as Beaver. Beside the market-place on the east, there was the fort at the foot of Broadway, just south of the present Bowling Green.

Also towards the North river, near Battery Place, was the great town windmill, to which farmers carried their wheat in ox-drawn wains or on the backs of some of the horses.

At the Marckvelt was held, the great annual cattle fair, in October, and beasts driven from Straatfort and New Haven, and Suidhampton and Oosthampton, might be seen in competition with those raised on the island, or transported from Heemstede and Esopus and Rensselaers-wyck from Oost-dorp (Westchester) and Rust-dorp (now Jamaica).

Another market was held on Saturdays at the Strand, near the house of Dr. Hans Kierstede, then on the north side of Pearl street. At these two markets flocked the country folk, some for purchase, some for sale; coming in farm carts or on horse and pillion, or from the Jersey or Long Island shore by the ferry, or in their own boats. Here, too, the farmers' gathered from "Breuckelen" and Vlake-bos (Flatbush); an New Utrecht, and New Amersfoordt (Flatlands) and Ompoge (Amboy), Sapokanican (now Greenwich) and from the new village of "New Haerlem," and Vlissingen (now Flushing) to buy cattle or poultry, or seeds for their farms.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Highlights of the Dutch Settlement and Streets in Old New York Part I
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 The Old Streets of New York under the Dutch. A paper read before the New York Historical society, June 2, 1874. Author: James W. Gerard
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