It must have been a wonder to the Delaware (Lenape) Indians
living along the shores of the water course now known as the Hudson River when in 1609 saw Henry Hudson’s ship, the Halve Maen
(Half Moon), coming across Manhattan Island. It must have also come as a surprise to Henry and his crew, at the time sailing on behalf of the Dutch East India Company, to arrive to and enter a great natural harbour and a wide waterway which failed to be the passage to China he was looking for.
Nonetheless, Henry Hudson
and his Dutch crew-mates had the opportunity to admire, from the deck of the Halve Maen, the wide mouth of the big river, trade furs with the Indians, and in 1614 claim the region for The Netherlands and call the area New Netherlands. In 1626, the Dutch “purchased” the island (Manhattan) from the Manahatta band of Lenape Indians. In what is considered one of the most memorable, although somewhat legendary, real-estate bargains in history, the Dutch became owners of Manhattan in exchange of
“10 boxes of shirts, 10 ells of red cloth, 30 pounds of powder, 30 pairs of socks, 2 pieces of duffel, some awls, 10 muskets, 30 kettles, 25 adzes, 10 bars of lead, 50 axes and some knives.”
Historians have assessed the value of the goods
at about 60 Dutch guilders of 1626, which at the exchange rate of 2011 would be equivalent to about US$ $951.08. That transaction led to the founding of the city of New Amsterdam and the establishment of Fort Amsterdam at the tip of the island of Manhattan. In 1664, the British took possession of New Amsterdam and quickly renamed it “New York”. In 1667, at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War
(1665–1667), on the basis of the Treaty of Breda
, the Dutch officially surrendered New Amsterdam/ New York to the British.
And the rest is history. Over the years, the estuary of the lower Hudson River and Manhattan’s coastline changed from a series of small coves and tidal marshes with sprawling natural oyster beds
to become a dazzling city with a huge human population. Today, with about 1.6 million people living in an area of almost 60 Km2, Manhattan is the most densely populated area in the United States (27,000/Km2), and along with Kowloon, Hong Kong (43,033/Km2), one of the most densely populated areas in the world
. Manhattan possesses some of the most valuable real estate in the USA and is a major financial, cultural, media and fashion center.
As most likely Henry Hudson appreciated it in his time, Manhattan is today, as the images in this photo-essay show, an extraordinary place to look at, either from the Upper New York Bay, the Hudson River, or the East River.