did the Dutch name their colonial town in America, Nieuw
is New York’s first archeological dig?
did the nations send their gold for safe-keeping?
was George Washington sworn in as the nation’s first
was the Bill of Rights adopted by Congress?
do millions of immigrants pledge to become new Americans?
you find the most ethnic cuisine in less than a half square
mile of land?
is the neighborhood that has the most concentrated public
to all these questions: Downtown New York.
rich and varied history, from Colonial settlement to world-famous
urban complex, spans close to four centuries. This compact area
at the tip of Manhattan Island – half of it built on land
reclaimed from surrounding waters of about one square mile –
has played an outsized role in the development of both the city
and the nation, and is rich in both memories and monuments."
(Statement by Downtown Alliances, a non-profit civic group
for downtown businesses)
The tragedy of September 11th
has placed Downtown in the spot light of the world stage in this
new century. The tragic events did not destroy downtown, on
the contrary, they made Downtown emerge stronger. The tragic events
could not obscure the history accomplished by immigrants to this land. Before the
arrival of European colonists, Downtown was home to a thriving
Native American culture. The early settlers built the city.
The famous Broadway, Downtown’s major thoroughfare, follows
the path of an ancient Algonquian trade route hundreds of miles
long – and today it ends at Bowling Green, where the Smithsonian
National Museum of the American Indian helps keep Native American
history and culture alive. Later came more European, African,
Asian and South American immigrants, they brought in more multi-ethnic
culture and diversity, characteristics of Downtown New York.
centuries ago, the first Dutch traders arrived around 1612.
Later thirty families of Dutch colonists, sponsored by the Dutch
West India Company arrived in New York in 1624. Peter Minuit,
a Dutch colonist, bought Manhattan island from Native Americans
for 60 guilders (about $24) and named the island New Amsterdam.
(The Dutch called their Downtown settlement Nieuw Amsterdam)
Though, today, nothing remains above ground from the half-century
of Dutch rule, but the winding streets – the famous Downtown
canyons – inherited the plan laid out by the Dutch colonists.
Early Settlement and British Rule (Historical facts and web links see reference
New Netherland colony became English New York after Gov. Peter
Stuyvesant surrendered to the British following a naval blockade
in 1664.The English renamed the colony for the Duke of York.
Downtown’s Hanover Square takes its name from the Hanoverian
dynasty that still occupies the British throne. The population
of New York reached 5000 at 1700, second next to Boston, 7000
and reached to 7000 in 1720 next to Boston and Philadelphia.
The New York Bar Association was founded in New York City back
in early 1747, perhaps, this explains why there is a high population
of lawyers in Downtown New York. In October, 1765, the Stamp
Act Congress convened in New York City, with representatives
from nine of the colonies. The Congress prepared a resolution
to be sent to King George III and the English Parliament. The
petition requests the repeal of the Stamp Act (taxation imposed
on American settlers by the British government) and the other
Acts of 1764, such as the Currency
The petition asserted that only colonial legislatures could
tax colonial residents and that taxation without representation
violated the colonists' basic civil rights. On November 1, the
stamp act went into effect, nearly all colonists refused to
use the stamps. In New York City, violence broke out as a mob
burned the royal governor in effigy, harassed British troops,
then looted houses. In December, British General Thomas Gage,
commander of all English military forces in America, asked the
New York assembly to make colonists comply with the Quartering
Act. (to house and supply his troops) Also in December, the
American boycott of English imports spread, as over 200 Boston
merchants joined the movement. In August 1765, violence broke
out in New York between British soldiers and armed colonists,
including Sons of Liberty members. The violence erupted as a
result of the continuing refusal of New York colonists to comply
with the Quartering Act. In December, the New York legislature
was suspended by the English Crown after once again voting to
refuse to comply with the Act.
built a statue of King George III in Bowling Green with a fence
to guard it from rebellious colonists around 1765. The
statue was later toppled by the colonists in 1776 but the fence
was left, which still encircles the park.
During the dozen
years of conflict leading to the American Revolution, and a few
years later ultimately to her independence in 1781, New York
played a prominent role in history. The American revolution
broke out on April 19, 1775. On May 10, the American forces
led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga
in New York. The fort contained a much needed supply of military
equipment including cannons which were then hauled to Boston
by ox teams. Captured British artillery from Fort Ticonderoga
was placed on Dorchester Heights to enforce the siege against
the British in Boston. The British evacuated Boston and set
sail for Halifax. George Washington then rushed to New York
to set up defenses, anticipating the British plan to invade
New York City, in March 4-17, 1776. In June, 1776, A massive
British war fleet arrived in New York Harbor consisting of 30
battleships with 1200 cannon, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors,
and 300 supply ships, under the command of General William Howe
and his brother Admiral Lord Richard Howe. On July 4th, the
Congress formally endorses Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
On July12, as a show of force, two British frigates sailed
up the Hudson River blasting their guns. Peace feelers were
then extended to the Americans. At the request of the British,
Gen. Washington met with Howe's representatives in New York
and listened to vague offers of clemency for the American rebels.
Washington politely declined and left. August 27-29, Gen. Howe
led 15,000 soldiers against Washington's army in the Battle
of Long Island. Washington, outnumbered two to one, suffered
a severe defeat as his army was outflanked. The Americans retreated
to Brooklyn Heights, facing possible capture by the British
or even total surrender. But at night, the Americans crossed
the East River in small boats and escaped to Manhattan, then
evacuated New York City and retreated up through Manhattan Island
to Harlem Heights. Washington then changed tactics, avoiding
large scale battles with the British by a series of retreats.
A peace conference
was held on Staten Island on September 11 with British Admiral,
Lord Richard Howe, meeting American representatives including
John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The conference failed as Howe
demanded the colonists to revoke the Declaration of Independence.
After evacuating New York City on September 16, Washington's
army repulsed a British attack during the Battle
of Harlem Heights in upper Manhattan. Several days later,
fire engulfed New York City and destroyed over 300 buildings.
On September 22, Nathan
Hale was caught spying on British troops on Long Island,
he was executed without a trial, his last words, "I only regret
that I have but one life to lose for my country." After evacuating
his main forces from Manhattan, Washington's army suffered heavy
casualties in the Battle
of White Plains from Gen. Howe's forces. Washington then
retreated westward on October 22. The revolution war lasted
till October 17, 1781. Finally, off Yorktown, Virginia, a major
naval battle between the French fleet of de
Grasse and the outnumbered British fleet of Adm. Thomas
Graves resulted in a victory for de Grasse. The British fleet
retreated to New York for reinforcements, leaving the French
fleet in control of the Chesapeake. The French fleet established
a blockade, cutting Cornwallis off from any retreat by sea.
French naval reinforcements then arrived from Newport. As Yorktown
was about to be taken, the British sent out a white flag. Gen.
Washington and Gen. Cornwallis then worked out terms
of surrender. The revolution war was won.
Bits of Local History in
and Federal Hall
plotters met secretly at the Queen Charlotte Tavern (named for
the wife of George III). Renamed Fraunces Tavern at the end
of the Revolutionary War. The tavern played host in 1783 to
General George Washington’s famed farewell dinner for
his officers. New York served as the new nation’s first
capital. In 1789, Washington took the presidential oath of office
at Downtown’s Federal Hall on Wall Street. The original
Federal Hall has disappeared, but a few blocks to the north
on Broadway, Washington’s original pew is preserved in
Downtown’s Colonial-era St. Paul’s Chapel.
prosperity grew out of its prominence as the nation’s
most important port. Early 19th-century China clipper ships
sailed from South Street, the “Street of Ships,”
on the East River, while the blocks around Bowling Green grew
into Steamship Row. Immigrants to New York
first also disembarked
at South Street, until a processing center opened in Downtown’s
Castle Garden – predecessor of nearby Ellis Island and
now called Castle Clinton. Today’s South Street Seaport
is a tourist attraction, a blend of preserved buildings
and ships and the skyscraper offices of the Cunard line standing
above lower Broadway.
Houses of Worship
houses of worship were established by colonists and immigrants
as early as in seventeen century. They also represented some
of the early American architecture. Trinity Church was founded
in 1699 as a parish of the Church of England. After the Revolution
it became one of the nation’s first Episcopal congregations.
State Street is home to the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton,
baptized in 1803 at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street.
Shearith Israel, the first Jewish congregation in North America,
built its synagogue on Mill Street in 1654. John Street Methodist
Church is the descendant of the 1768 Wesley Chapel, the nation’s
first Methodist Church; an off-shoot, the African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church, became one of the nation’s most
prominent African-American congregations.
and Publishing Industry
set up New York’s first printing press in 1693 at a Downtown
office located on Pearl Street. In 1725, he published the first
New York Gazette. His apprentice, John Peter Zenger, was
arrested and accused of seditious libel by the Governor in 1734.
Next year, John Peter Zenger was brought to trial for libel
but was acquitted after his lawyer successfully convinced the
jury that truth is a defense against libel, a landmark case
for freedom of speech. By the 19th century, so many publications
had moved to Downtown’s Park Row that it became informally
known as Newspaper Row, and the surrounding area as Printing
House Square. As media technology advanced beyond printing,
downtown is now emerging as a center of new media.
has been synonymous with banking and finance for two centuries.
Wall Street projects the image of wealth, stocks, bonds, gold
and money. The New York Stock Exchange traces its origins to
an informal group of brokers meeting under a buttonwood tree
on Wall Street as early as 1792, just two years after Alexander
Hamilton, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury,
issued bonds to pay the Revolution’s debt. Numerous banks,
insurance companies and express offices built their headquarters
in downtown around Wall Street. The financial services are well
represented in the DBCC II Directory presented below.
Technology and Architecture
is the birth place of American skyscrapers thanks to technology
and high valued real estate. The World Trade Center's twin towers
combined modern skyscraper technology and architectural beauty.
The destruction of the towers will not impede the continuous progress made and to be made in Downtown. Downtown is the best representation of two
centuries of human progress. Starting with the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway, built at
the end of the 1860s, skyscraper development brought a succession of major towers: The
Woolworth Building, the 140 Broadway and others. Take a virtual tour of Downtown, you will
find a feast of architecture, culture and history.
Tour of LOWER Manhattan
as an historic center beautifully set between the Hudson and
East River, displays a majestic harbor, stunning architecture
variation, tall ships of sea, and the city’s most dramatic
skyline and streetscape views. Downtown will continue to make
progress and history in all dimensions. As ideas and plans are
being contemplated for the recovery and reconstruction of Downtown
after the 9-11 attack, Downtown can reflect on its glorious
past and anticipate an even brighter future.
descriptions about downtown's history and interesting places
are not a comprehensive story. This CD attempts to draw your interest to Downtown New York, to help
you get around Downtown to do business or for pleasure. You may find that this CD only
offers you threads of clues not a complete picture of the Lower Manhattan. The mini movies
scattered in this CD and the virtual tour presented below are camera views of Lower
Manhattan. We let you take in these images and urge you to find them in the real world and
then write your own captions.
a moment to enjoy a virtual downtown tour.
The Downtown Alliance produces
a broad array of materials to help make the experience of living
in, working in, and visiting the Downtown area easier and more
valuable. Reports, newsletters and market surveys are available
for downloading. If you do not
find what you are looking for, prefer to receive hard copies
or require any informational materials in bulk, you may send
an e-mail to: ContactUs@DowntownNY.com
a word in the dictionary, Downtown is defined as the central or lower part of
especially the main commercial area. However, in the big apple, downtown has numerous
definitions depending on who is defining it. In this project, our main objective is to help
promote New York businesses that are most seriously affected by the 9-11 tragedy.
Therefore, we are going to take an all-inclusive definition of Downtown New York. Hence we
will use Downtown and Lower Manhattan interchangeably. Naturally, the closer
the business to the World Trade Center site the more the
business was affected.
Downtown New York has a long
history and there are many interesting places. It will not
be possible to introduce them all here. However, we welcome
suggestions to include anything that is of interest to our
intended audience of this CD