An Early American City: Manhattan History and Facts

Manhattan Has an Epic History

Manhattan is one of the five boroughs comprising the city of New York. It is the smallest and most densely populated of the bunch. Manhattan is an island site at the mouth of the Hudson and East Rivers. New York City was first established along the southern tip of Manhattan and grew northward to encompass the entire island along with mainland regions to the east that were annexed to the city between 1874 and 1898.

Manhattan is one of the most densely populated places in the world. According to figures from the latest census, there are 1,585,873 people living on its 22.96 square miles which works out to 69,464 people per square mile. This is a greater density than any other American city. Manhattan is also one of the wealthiest places in the U.S. The per capita income exceeds $100,000.

To a large extent, Manhattan serves as financial, commercial, and cultural capital of the U.S., and the GDP generated by this locale has been estimated to be $1.2 trillion. Both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ are headquartered here as are a number of radio and television stations. Manhattan is home to many publishing firms and serves as headquarters of some of the country’s largest corporations.

Isle  Filled with Renowned Attractions

Manhattan is full of landmarks and tourist attractions. It has multiple museums and universities. The U.N. is headquartered here at a site along the East River. In the language of the Lenape Indians who once inhabited the region, Manhattan means “island of many hills.”

Giovanni da Verrazano was the first European to visit the place in 1524. The area was first mapped by Henry Hudson in 1609. Hudson travelled up the river that now bears his name all the way to the present site of Albany.

A Dutch fur trading post was established on Governors Island in 1624. The following year, the citadel of Fort Amsterdam was built on Manhattan. Pieter Schagen gained the rights to the island from Native Americans in 1626 for goods said to be the equivalent of $24. A figure of about $1,000 in current dollars is the generally accepted figure.

Original Colonial History Goes Back a Long Way

Peter Stuyvesant was the last Dutch Director appointed in 1747 of the colony of New Amsterdam. New Amsterdam was incorporated as a city on February2, 1653. The British conquered New Amsterdam in 1664 and renamed the place New York. Stuyvesant managed to get various guarantees of rights for Dutch settlers including freedom of religion.

A precursor of colonial opposition to British rule was the Stamp Act Congress that met here in 1765. Their Declaration of Rights and Grievances was the first document made by representatives from the various colonies to assert the right of “no taxation without representation.” It marked the first time the colonies took a unified political stand and set the stage for the Continental Congresses that followed.

The full history of Manhattan will very much follow the benchmarks of the history of the United States as a whole.

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