There are different cities that allure visitors from all over the world. Each of them has a unique history that makes it original. New York is one of such famous cities, and a real cradle of business and culture. In fact, a vast number of immigrants that came to this place have significantly shaped social and economic life in this city.
The history of modern New York dates back to colonization era. In 1609, the Half Moon sailed in the Hudson River and encountered Indians that were eager for trade. These natives were willing to exchange different goods, such as tobacco, beans, and oysters. Europeans swapped their knives, beads, furry for local products. Europeans were quite fascinated by the beauty of the city. New York was numerously called an Eden and even “the Land flowed with milk and honey”. As a result, New York became a platform of European trading and a symbol of New World for European people.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Europeans already appeared in the river Manahata. In 1614, the Captain Block called this island Hellegat (“hell passage”), because it had tricky sides. Manhattan was always surrounded by hills and its name meant something special to the Indians, who lived there. The Captain instantly sent 18 families to discover the land. Other families of the colonists settled along western and eastern boundaries of the Manahata River.
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At the same time, New York’s economic life was influenced by the Dutch. There are many prominent Europeans that could have discovered New York. For example, Giovanni da Verrazano and Henri Hudson were both brilliant navigators that passed through the city, but eventually failed to discover the New York Bay. However, Dutch were the first to understand that New York has an enormous trading possibility. Starting from the beginning of the 16th century, the Dutch traders started to import European goods to New York. Europeans offered a vast number of goods. For example, they imported iron drills, hoes, knives, combs that could be exchanged for other commodities. Nevertheless, Europeans did not have any fixed settlement, only a shelter in the winter. As a result, New York was later named New Netherlands or New Amsterdam.
The city had to be transformed in the community that can appeal to the Dutch. This area had to be changed in an urban center. A number of streets and buildings were completely removed. In the middle of 16th century, the war on animals was also officially declared. Animals were no longer allowed to walk through the town and damage public properties and orchards. In addition, residents of the area were forbidden to throw any kind of rubbish into the streets, while house owners were obliged to clean the road leading to their buildings. A police force was not established until 1658, when the government started to fear the Indian gang. Then police was commanded to walk around the town and call how late it is. They were walking at all corners of the streets, starting from 9 p.m. till the dawn.
The Street names gradually evolved. In 1657, New Amsterdam already had numerous roads and houses. The most famous road was leading north end of Manhattan through the woods to the river Hudson. The natives brought beaver skins for trade along this road, and it was later named the “Beaver Path”. It was a convenient trading location and was more described as “Breede Wegh” or “Broad Way”. The Wall Street took its original name from the road that was running just inside the walls that were built across the island.
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Immigrant transformed commerce to the most popular activities in the city. Nevertheless, there were no direct regulations in the 16th century. Consequently, the city government decided to direct a municipal market every Monday for different farm products, such as cheese, roots, bacon, and meat. However, later Saturday became the official day when people from countryside could offer their products to town folks. Strict controls were imposed on merchants and artisans on such enterprises as brewing or baking.
Soon the New Amsterdam became a convenient location for slave trade. Slaves were brought from Western Africa and by 1660s, there were around 20% of slaves in the city. The population of this place was rapidly growing and became extremely diverse. For instance, the newcomers hailed from Germany, France or England. By the mid 1660s,just 40% of New Netherlands were Dutch, while 90% were German and 15% English. However, they all had different occupations and one in eight was laborer of servant.
The physical transformation of the city was remarkable. Nevertheless, the economic and class structure was even more striking. Immigrants were extremely materialistic. The principle of their life was based on the art of making money. On the top were wealthy private merchants from Holland. They were new phenomenon in the city and dominated the colony’s trade. These “persons of quality” exchanged basic items, such as skins, furs or tobacco. This new elite had Dutch taste and manners. They commissioned comfortable brick town houses with luxury furniture and flowered gardens. Wives were dressed in fashionable clothes from Amsterdam or Paris.
However, the city was mostly inhabited by common folks. Hundreds of skilled craftsmen and their families constituted the middle class. They lived in wooden houses with moderate furniture and equipments. Free white inhabitants mostly occupied lower class works. They were soldiers, sailors or apprentices. The town was always noisy, with a vast number of taverns, gambling and grogshops. Despite the nine o’clock closing law many places, such as the Wooden Horse managed to entertain people, although some of them could easily lose license.
Despite geographic and democratic diversity, Indian inhabitants did not suffer from political pluralism. Different Indian tribes managed to establish independent alliances with European colonists from England and Netherlands. Although New York was economically dependent on Europeans, it was pronounced as a free land. Accordingly, government eagerly negotiated agreements with different Indian tribes.
Provincial New York was a part of colonial empire and that is why it resembled many European cities. In 1789, a federal government was established and seated in the New York City. In fact, most of American cities emerged as a result of thorough government planning. Nevertheless, in spite of established legal system, there were a lot of discrepancies. For example, there was inconsistency between what people do and what government expects them to do. The city has been transforming over the time. A vast number of immigrants still come to New York in search for better life. Nowadays, this city is quite multilingual and multicultural, filled with millions of people from all over the world. People are allured to this place, because it, in fact, represents American life and its financial centers have huge influence in the country.
Social and economic life of New York has been significantly shaped by immigrants from Europe. Nowadays, New York is popularly called a “Big Apple”, because it has large metropolis with massive business centers. Moreover, this city is usually associated with economic opportunities. Throughout the years, it was an international trading center and imported goods from all over the world. For example, the New York port has always been an essential spot for different European goods. However, New York is an artistic city and many writers and artists still visit this city in search of inspiration. Overall, New York represents a New World of opportunities, as well as cultural and economic enrichment.
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