Jean Leon Gerome Ferris’s painting “The Fall of New Amsterdam, which shows New Amsterdam residents begging Peter Stuyvesant to surrender to the British. Via The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
On September 8th, 1664, Dutch Director-General Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam to the British, officially establishing New York City. To take part in the fur trade, settlers from the Dutch West India Company first established the colony of New Netherland in 1624, which would eventually grow to include all present-day boroughs, Long Island, and even parts of New Jersey. The following year, the island of Manhattan, then the capital, was named New Amsterdam. But when Stuyvesant’s 17-year run as Governor (from 1647 to 1664) turned unfavorable, he ceded the island to England’s Colonel Richard Nicolls, who had sent four ships with 450 men to seize the Dutch Colony. The name was promptly changed to honor the Duke of York and his mission.
Get the whole history
September 7th is often credited with being the date, in 1813, that the United States received its moniker Uncle Sam. It’s said that upstate New York butcher Samuel Wilson was the real-life inspiration behind the unofficial “human face” of the U.S. Government. The Troy, NY butcher supposedly stamped cuts of meat he delivered to American troops during the War of 1812 with the initials “U.S.” But the NY Times tells us that a Nebraska professor who has been tracing the origin of the top-hatted elder statesman has turned up an earlier reference. History professor and War of 1812 expert Donald R. Hickey from Wayne State College brings the origin of Uncle Sam back to New York City–the nation’s first capital–and a young midshipman’s use of the Navy slang of the day.
So what’s the Brooklyn story?
Häagen-Dazs’ store in the Bronx, via Yelp
Despite its European-sounding name, Häagen-Dazs is actually born and bred right here in New York. In fact, there’s a fascinating history behind how the brand reached national success under a seemingly random title, picked by two immigrants from Poland. It all started in 1921, when the Polish Jewish couple Reuben and Rose Mattus emigrated to New York, according to Atlas Obscura. They worked for the family’s ice cream business, selling fruit ice and ice cream pops from a horse-drawn wagon in the busy streets of the Bronx. In the 1960s, Reuben and Rose struck out on their own, starting an ice cream company with three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee.
Here’s why they named it Häagen-Dazs
An illustration of the first Labor Day parade, via Wiki Commons
Though Labor Day has been embraced as a national holiday–albeit one many Americans don’t know the history of–it originated right here in New York City. The holiday is a result of the city’s labor unions fighting for worker’s rights throughout the 1800’s. The event was first observed, unofficially, on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882, with thousands marching from City Hall up to Union Square. At the time, the New York Times considered the event to be unremarkable. But 135 years later, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of every September as a tribute to all American workers. It’s also a good opportunity to recognize the hard-won accomplishments of New York unions to secure a better workplace for us today.
Keep reading for the full history
Early public floating bath. Image: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
With summer winding down, New Yorkers are treading water til fall arrives–with late-season heat and kids that still need to be kept busy, back-to-school or not. The good news: Most city pools are open until September 10. This form of easily-accessible fun has been keeping NYC cool since the early days of the 20th century. The New York Times tells of the first city pools and their origins as public baths as early as 1901–and the even older pontoon-pools that floated in the Hudson and East Rivers.
More on the history of the floating pool, this way
Known for its record-breaking height and sophisticated Art Deco style, the Empire State Building is one of New York City’s, if not the world’s, most recognized landmarks. While the building is often used in popular culture as light-natured fodder—such as the opening back drop to your favorite cookie-cutter rom-com or the romantic meeting spot for star-crossed lovers—the building’s past is far more ominous than many of us realize. From failed suicide attempts to accidental plane crashes, its history casts a vibrant lineup of plot-lines and characters spanning the past ninety years.
Read about the dark side of the empire state building
Photo via Wiki Commons
US Open fever has once again swept the city, and though nowadays it’s all Venus and Serena and craft beers and lobster rolls, there’s a long history behind the world-famous event. Here, 6sqft takes a look at how the international tournament made its way from an elite, private club in Newport Rhode Island, to Forest Hills’ West Side Tennis Club, and finally to its current home in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, even uncovering a little connection to the 1964 World’s Fair.
All the tennis history right this way
Mrs. Astor’s House on 65th Street and Fifth Avenue. Image via Library of Congress
Last week, 6sqft went through the many mansions, predominately lost, along Millionaire’s Row on Fifth Avenue up to 59th Street. Most of this stretch has been converted into upscale luxury retail and corporate skyscrapers, but Millionaire’s Row continued northwards along Central Park, which opened in 1857. Though some have been lost, a significant number of these opulent Gilded Age mansions still stand within this more residential zone. The AIA Guide to New York City calls this area of Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 78th Street the “Gold Coast,” and rightly so.
Walking up 5th Avenue, you’ll first pass the decadent Sherry-Netherland Hotel with its recently uncovered 1927 Beaux-Arts mural and the Stanford White-designed Metropolitan Club, founded by J.P. Morgan in 1891 for friends who were rejected from the old-money Knickerbocker Club. But even before the construction of the Metropolitan Club, a mansion was rising less than a block away on 61st Street and Fifth Avenue.
Find out more about these incredible mansions here
Monument to Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square via edenpictures via photopin
Earlier this week, the de Blasio administration said it would give “immediate attention” to a proposal from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to remove Central Park’s Christopher Columbus statue based on accounts that the explorer enslaved and killed many indigenous people. And it looks like Peter Stuyvesant might be next on the chopping block. The Post reports that Jewish rights group Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is “demanding Mayor de Blasio scrub all traces of the anti-Semitic Dutch governor from city property” as part of the city’s 90-day review of symbols of hate. Not only do they want monuments of him removed, but his name erased on everything from the public Stuyvesant High School to Stuyvesant Square Park to the entire neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Find out the full history
The most notorious bank robbery in New York City history took place on August 22, 1972, during the decidedly dog days of that long hot summer. Immortalized in the film “Dog Day Afternoon,” it was an unlikely anti-hero tale with a backstory that began in Greenwich Village, interwoven with the social and political currents running through the city at the time, most notably the growing LGBT movement that had taken hold after the Stonewall Riots.
Get the whole surprising history this way