Patricia Cleveland-Peck visits the Big Apple in search of its blossoming.
The area known now covered by New York was, until the arrival of the Europeans, who effectively destroyed their existence, home to various indigenous tribes including the Algonquin. It was the Dutch who, having arrived and in 1642, established the first trading post up the Hudson and sent the first thirty families out as potential settlers. Most went up to Fort Nassau but eight families settled on Nut Island, now Governor’s Island, situated just off the tip of Manhattan and thus became the first immigrant New Yorkers. Governor’s Island has played a very important strategic role right up to the Second World War when it was home to 10,000 military personnel and it is somewhere no lover of history should miss. Now it is a ghost town with hundreds of uninhabited historic houses and buildings in the course of restoration as a new National Park.
The original Dutch Nut Island community grew as more settlers arrived and so they gradually moved across the water and began to settle in the mainland area known as Manna-Hatta, This consisted of 14,000 acres which, in 1626, the first Dutch governor Peter Minuit purchased from the local Native tribes (who had no concept of land ownership) for trinkets said to be worth in today’s currency, around $500.