The history of
New York City
Article added in July 2001; last update: November 6, 2013
On November 5, 2013 over 73% of New Yorkers
voted for their left-wing populist Bill de Blasio (*1961) to be their new
mayor. He once told the journalist Chris Smith: My worldview is one part
Franklin Roosevelt - the New Deal - one part European social democracy and
one part liberation theology.
Bill de Blasio has no executive experience, but will have to run one of the
world's most important cities.
Since 1993, the Republicans Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg - who had
joined the GOP before his first election and left it again towards the end
of his years as mayor - had cleaned up a half-way ruined, dirty and crime
city. They made it an attractive place of investment and attraction again.
Will the outspoken socialist Bill de Blasio undo the successes of his two
direct predecessors? More public
housing and more taxes for the rich earning over $500,000 are on his agenda.
We will soon find out.
A history of New York City
Article added in July 2001
Indian communities were camped around the mouth of the Hudson River when, in 1524, the New York Bay was
"discovered" by the Florentine Giovanni da Verrazzano. He was
exploring the North American coastline for the French king Francis I.
In 1609, Henry Hudson was seeking a water
route to the Orient for the Dutch East India Company. He was the first
white man to set his foot on "Manahtin", as the place was called by the Algonquin Indians.
Hudson explored the harbor region and sailed upriver to the site of Albany.
In 1625, the first permanent settlement was
made in lower Manhattan and named New Amsterdam. It was
founded as a trading post on the periphery of the Dutch mercantile empire
which received little attention from the colonial power.
In 1626, the Governor General Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island from
the Indians for 60 guilders (according to the Blue Guide New York estimated
In 1664, New Amsterdam was forcibly
appended to the rising British Empire and renamed after James, Duke of
York, the brother of King Charles II. In 1673, the Dutch recaptured New
York and renamed it Nieuwe Oranje (New Orange). The following year, the treaty of
Westminster made New York British again. In 1689, King James II facing
rebellion abdicated and fled to France. In New York, Jacob Leisler lead an
uprising against the British.
New York became a vital
seaport supplying agricultural products from the Caribbean sugar islands and
serving as a British strategic base for military actions against the French.
In 1763, the French and Indian War ended with the Treaty of Paris which
confirmed English control of North America.
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence
marked the beginning of the American
revolution after which New York
emerged as the linkage point between industrializing Europe and the
agricultural hinterland of North America. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris
concluded the War of Independence as Britain recognized the independence of the
13 colonies. The British army left New York which, in 1784, became the
capital of the state and nation. In 1789, the United States Constitution
was ratified and George Washington was sworn in as the nation's first
President in Federal Hall on Wall Street. In 1790, the capital moved to Philadelphia,
in 1800 to Washington, D.C.
In 1792, the Buttonwood Agreement led to
the formation of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1811, a plan to redesign
Manhattan was born. Hills, swamps, springs, ponds and forests were eliminated in favor of today's
street grid. In 1820, New York became the
nation's largest city with a population of 123706. In 1825, the Erie Canal
opened, linking NYC with the Great Lakes; it was to be an essential factor in the city's successful
In 1725, the city's first newspaper, the New-York
Gazette, was founded by William Bradford. In 1851, the New York
Daily Times, now the New York Times, began publication.
After the Civil War 1861-1865, New York
became the principal facilitator of the industrialization of the United
States as well as of its imperial westward expansion, the home of
America's great banking houses and exchanges, the preeminent portal for
immigration, the leading export port, in short the economic, social and
cultural capital of the US.
In 1891, Carnegie Hall and the New York
Botanical Gardens opened. The following year, an immigration station
opened on Ellis Island. In 1898, Greater New York was created by joining
the five boroughs under a single municipal government. The population of
3.4 million made New York the world's second largest city behind London (4
After the First World War, New York City
rivaled London. In 1929, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression
began. In 1941, the United States entered the Second World War. New York,
as the major Atlantic port, became important. Brooklyn Navy Yard operated
at full capacity.
In 1945, the Second World War ended. Since
then, New York is the Blue Planet's first city. The same year, an army
bomber crashed into the Empire State Building. The United Nations charter
was passed and, in 1946, the U.N. selected New York as their permanent
headquarters. The same year, another army plane crashed into the Bank of
Manhattan Co. building's 58th floor. New York was booming and its
population reached over 7 million people.
On January 1, 1990, David Dinkins took over
as New York's first African-American mayor. Tax income declined, severe
cuts in public spending became necessary. A recession in connection with
the Gulf War hit the city. Tourists stayed away. Big corporations left
NYC. In 1993, Muslim terrorists bombed the World Trade Center.
In the troubled times of 1993, the
Republican Rudolph Giuliani was elected as the 107th Mayor of the City of New
York. Before, as an US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he
had a record of 4125 convictions with only 25 reversals. He had
successfully fought drug dealers, organized crime, corruption in
government and prosecuted white-collar criminals. In his two terms as
Mayor, crime decreased by over 50%. He reduced taxes and cut welfare rolls in
half . His welfare-to-work initiative made the number of people on social
welfare decline by over 600,000 people. In 1997, Giuliani became the first
Republican mayor to be re-elected in over 50 years although his sometimes
ruthless methods were not appreciated by everybody (especially in his
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four passenger planes, two
from American Airlines and two from United Airlines. In an unprecedented
act of terrorism, the hijackers crashed two of them into New York City's
110-storey twin towers of the World Trade Center, killing some 3000
On January 1, 2002, billionaire Michael Bloomberg was sworn in as NYC's 108th
mayor. The successful media tycoon had spent $69 million in his electoral campaign.
Besides being the world's financial center, "the city
that never sleeps" is the
capital of entertainment (the Broadway, jazz clubs, concert halls, night clubs) and the world's artistic
capital with the leading art market, famous museums and galleries. The Big Apple is a melting pot, uniting African, Anglo-Saxon, Chinese, German, Irish,
Italian, Jewish, Latin American and other influences.
Added on November 9, 2005: Michael Bloomberg was re-elected mayor of New
NYC's financial district. Photograph: Abramson: Skyscraper Rivals.
The AIG Building and the
Architecture of Wall Steet.
The Plaza Hotel, Fith Avenue & Central Park South (Photograph: Reiseführer
Marco Polo New York).
The Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Avenue (Photograph:
Reiseführer Marco Polo New York).
city guides, books, literature on NYC
The sources for the article on the left
AIA Guide to New York City. Elliott Willensky, ed. Paperback, Times
Books, 2000, 1024 p. Probably the best English guide for today's
traveler. Get it from Amazon.com,
Blue Guide New York. By Carol von Pressentin Wright. W.W. Norton,
3rd ed. 2002, 862 p. Get it from Amazon.com
Not brand new and with no photographs.
Still, this is a very detailed and well-informed
guide on the history of NYC. For people who want to dig deeper.
The Park and the People: A History of Central Park by Roy Rosenzweig
and Elizabeth Blackmar. Paperback, 1998, 640 p., reprint edition, Cornell
University Press. Get it from Amazon.com
New York's 50 Best: Places to Discover and Enjoy in Central Park by
Karen Putnam and Marianne Cramer. Paperback, 1999, 112 p. City & Co.
Cass Gilbert: Inventing the Skyline. New York Historical Society,
Columbia University Press, 2000, 312 p. Get it from Amazon.com,
Daniel M. Abramson: Skyscraper Rivals. The AIG Building and the
Architecture of Wall Steet. Hardcover, Princeton Architectural
Press, December 2000, 176 p. Get it from Amazon.com,
Mike Wallace, Edwin G. Burrows: Gotham - A History of New
York City to 1898, Paperback, OUP, October 2000, 1383 p.
The 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner. A history of New York as rich and detailed
as never seen before. Get it from Amazon.com,
New York. The PBS documentary by Ric Burns. Get it from Amazon.com
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass. Originally published in 1855.
Paperback from Amazon.com,
Paul Auster: New York Trilogy: City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room.
Penguin, paperback. Get it from Amazon.com,
German edition: Amazon.de.
Paul Auster: The Book of Illusions: A Novel. Henry Holt & Co.,
2002. Get it from Amazon.com,
Amazon.co.uk. German edition, Rowohlt:
Maps of NY and NYC
Map of the state of New
York. Order a custom map of NY.