Dutch New York with Historian Barry Lewis

The year 2009 marked the 400th anniversary of explorer Henry Hudson’s voyage to New York State and the river that bears his name. Click here for this 56-minute video describing the 17th century history of New Amsterdam.

Historian Barry Lewis (pictured above) takes us back in time to rediscover the first European settlers in New York — the Dutch. A replica of Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon, plies his namesake’s river and is shown in a contemporary painting showing trade with the Native population.

New Netherland began as a forested island occupied only by a small number of Indigenous people who were soon forced out by the Dutch as they claimed the southern portion of the Island below today’s Wall Street. Thomas Willett, who is buried in the Ancient Little Neck Cemetery in East Providence, RI, served twice as Mayor when it became New York City in 1665.

The Dutch West India Company laid out New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island in 1624. The company envisioned New Amsterdam as a transportation hub from which they could ship timber and furs from the area. In addition, it would serve as a hub for ships trading into South America and the Caribbean, including the trade in enslaved people.