Mayor Eric Adams
Eric Adams become the 110th Mayor of New York City and moves into Gracie Mansion with only his mattress.
On January 21, 1672, Anthonÿ Backers wed Mayken Arta on Stuyvesant’s bowery (originally denoting a plantation or farm, not a specific thoroughfare as later became renowned), located about sixty blocks south of today’s Gracie Mansion site. Their names linked them to one another but also to the history of the place. “Mayken” was the name of one of the first African women to arrive in New Netherland, who as an elderly person successfully petitioned for her freedom, which was granted with the stipulation that she continue to clean Stuyvesant’s house. “Backers” was the family name of Jacobus Backer, the man whom Petrus Stuyvesant’s half-sister, Margietje, wed. Anthony was, or presumably had been, the slave of Jacobus Backer or another member of this family closely allied with Stuyvesant.
On November 17, 1672, Willem Anthonissen and Margariet Pieters were married on this bowery as well. The Anthonissens had gained their freedom under Dutch rule, and Margariet Pieters was descended from the Pieters family who were also freed and had been granted land grants surrounding the plantation.
Four other couples would follow the pattern of these first two, and marry on Stuyvesant’s bowery, a public profession of their desire to build lives that were connected to the history and community of the surrounding neighborhood inhabited by many like them of African and African- descent. They would bear names that were woven into this community of Africans like those who preceded them during the entire Dutch colonial period since its advent.
Reach and Magnitude
New Netherland was part of a larger system of enslavement that spanned the Western Dutch Empire, from Recife and other locations in Brazil, through Caribbean islands like Curaçao, and into the North American mainland along the Delaware and Hudson River Valleys. While an outpost, this northernmost colony was important to solidifying the reach of the empire further into the continent, and an enslaved workforce was critical to this expansion. As a share of total population, more people of African descent or origin lived in the colony of New Netherland between 1630 and 1670 than in any of the other colonies that would one day join the United States (3-12% of total population, surpassed only by South Carolina in 1670).
New Amsterdam, located at the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, was a settlement on the edge of an empire. Bordered by powerful native nations and confederacies, like the Mahican, Haudenosaunee, Mahicannituck, Wappinger, and Lenape, the town was part of the northern outskirts of the Dutch colonial holdings. Until its final loss to Portugal in 1654, the sugar-producing colony of Brazil was the main focus of the Netherlands in the Western Hemisphere. New Netherland, on the other hand, was seen predominantly as a region which could supply the empire with furs, timber, and food, and was administered in concert with the Dutch Caribbean settlements.
Enslaved people were brought to the colony of New Netherland to support its growth and augment its workforce. The Dutch West India Company – the corporation that managed the Dutch colonies in the Western Hemisphere, also known as the WIC – declared in 1629 that the Company would try “to supply the colonists with as many blacks as it possibly can (om aen de Coloniers soo veel Swarten toe te stellen / als haer moghelijck wesen).” While individuals were permitted (and encouraged) to purchase enslaved people, the WIC also held slaves. These “company blacks” were managed by the directors of the colony and their administrators, and were put to work building fortifications, farming foodstuffs, or serving in the various battles against local native groups. Many practiced skilled trades, such as carpentry, masonry, milling, smithing, or horse grooming. Some were also loaned out to private individuals to support increased workloads at times of harvest or for other purposes.
New Amsterdam was not the only settlement within the colony of New Netherland where enslaved people were held. Fort Orange (modern day Albany), at the head of the navigable Hudson River was a key trading location between the Dutch, the Haudenosaunee, and other native groups, and the surrounding land of Rensselaerswyck was one of a series of patroonships—or large landholdings spanning hundreds, thousands, or more acres—that covered the Hudson River Valley. Rensselaerswyck was the largest of the patroonships, and the only one to survive intact through the fall of the colony to the English. Enslaved people were owned and exploited by the patroons, traders, and merchants throughout this region, and were occasionally exchanged with or sold to merchants and administrators living in New Amsterdam.
Enslaved people were also involved in the expansion of Dutch colonial reach to the lands south of New Amsterdam. The southernmost portion of New Netherland lay along the Delaware River Valley, between modern-day Baltimore and Philadelphia. Formerly known as New Sweden, the “South River” colony was captured by Dutch forces in 1655 and incorporated into the broader colony of New Netherland. Local administrators saw the value of enslaved labor to their efforts to grow the colony and requested that “50 negroes who are particularly adapted to the preparations of the valleys… and other heavy work” be sent to the settlement by the WIC. These enslaved people were intended to be the core of the agricultural workforce that would advance the productive output of the valley.
Because of the interconnected nature of the Dutch colonies, enslaved people often found their lives frequently uprooted. One man, a horse groom named Andries, had been enslaved in Curaçao to the vice-director of the colony, Lucas van Rodenburgh. He traveled with the van Rodenburgh family, first to Amsterdam, then to New Amsterdam. When van Rodenburgh died, he was taken to northern New Netherland by van Rodenburgh’s widow, who then sold Andries, for the “sum of 50 beavers” to the largest landholder in the area, the patroon Jan Baptist van Rensselaer. When Jan Baptist moved back to Amsterdam, he wanted his best horse groom Andries to follow, but Jan’s younger brother Jeremias who remained in New Netherland, would not part with Andries, though he complained that he frequently resisted his enslavement.
The first non-Native inhabitant of Manhattan was an Afro-Portuguese man from Spanish Santo Domingo named Juan (Jan) Rodriquez, who arrived on the island alongside some Dutch colleagues in 1613. Skilled with languages, he learned the local Algonquian dialect and married into the Lenape community, choosing to stay behind as a trader and merchant when his ship, the Jonge Tobias, returned to the Netherlands later that year. While the remainder of the seventeenth century during the period of Dutch colonization would see close to one thousand people of African extract arrive on the island of Manhattan, nearly all of them would arrive in bondage.
Many of the people who were held in bondage on the island of Manhattan during Dutch rule were not born in the Americas. Most of the enslaved in New Netherland arrived in the colony directly from Africa. The Caribbean would become an increasingly important waystation as the seventeenth century progressed, particularly the Dutch island of Curaçao. St. Joris and other landholdings on the island became prime “seasoning camps” during the later decades of the seventeenth century, where enslaved people from Africa were held and acclimated to a life of slavery in the Western Hemisphere before being transported to their final destinations. But this was not the case during most of the years of the Dutch administration of New Netherland. The Witte Paard, for instance, sailed directly from Loango (in modern-day Republic of the Congo) to New Amsterdam, where 391 enslaved people disembarked in 1655.
The enslaved community came from various colonies across the Caribbean, Brazil, Spanish South America, as well as from Western Africa. According to the Slave Voyages Database, records exist for eight slaving vessels who transported people from Brazil or the Caribbean to New Amsterdam between 1626 and 1664, with approximately 200 people arriving on the island of Manhattan. In contrast, the two ships that transported people from Africa during that time period, the Witte Paard and the Gideon, carried over 700 people. Many of those enslaved in New Netherland developed or arrived with a knowledge of multiple languages, spanning European (Dutch, English, Spanish, Portuguese, or others), African (Bantu, Kikongo, Kimbundu, or others), and Native North American (Algonquian, Mohawk, or others).
Work and Life in New Amsterdam
Large farmlands, or boweries, existed north of the Wall that formed the northernmost border of the town of New Amsterdam, and many enslaved people were forced to work these lands. New Amsterdam and its boweries were among the first sites of enslaved work on a large scale in the Northeast, as well as places for creating networks that underpinned an interconnected black community.
This black community of New Amsterdam included both enslaved and free people. In 1644, eleven of them successfully argued for freedom for themselves and their spouses. Citing their long tenure of service, among other factors, they were released from captivity and granted parcels of land. But in exchange for this liberty, they were required to make annual payments to the colony’s director under pain of re-enslavement, and their children remained enslaved. Several other individuals would follow in their footsteps and gain freedom before the fall of the colony to the English twenty years on. Free black communities that survived into the English period were founded by these manumitted individuals.
Enslaved and free black people working on and around the boweries of New Amsterdam would spend their days farming a variety of crops, including rye, wheat, barley, peas, and beans, tending cattle, or clearing woods. Some were tradespeople, and provided essential services like smithing, horse grooming, and milling. Others would work as domestics or housekeepers. In fact, several of the women freed in 1644 were obligated to clean and tend to Director-General Stuyvesant’s house as a condition of such a step to full freedom, including an Angolan woman named Mayken, who was one of the first three black people to arrive in the colony.
The WIC would sometimes place its enslaved workforce of “company blacks” in a chain gang, where they were tasked with general construction and infrastructure upkeep, such as re-liming the fort and constructing the palisade that surrounded New Amsterdam. The company blacks were also deployed to augment other workforces. On the eve of the fall of New Netherland, Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant sent his personal servants and the company blacks into the fields to harvest and thresh the wheat growing there in order to replenish the stores of the fort when he was unable to redirect the efforts of other settlers to this task.
Beyond the toil of work, the boweries acted as a hub of the black community, and Stuyvesant’s bowery, in particular, functioned as a sort of village. Some of the enslaved workforce occasionally lived in the surrounding area, and many of the free blacks (both men and women) were granted parcels of land (known as “Negro lots”) nearby. Stuyvesant relocated many of those in the free black community onto plots of land along the Bowery Road in the run-up to the second Esopus War, ordering them in 1659 to “take down their isolated dwellings for their own improved security… to establish and erect the same along the common highway near the honorable general’s farm.” Whether this was for their security or to help protect his farmland from Native attack is, of course, debatable, particularly as he advised his secretary to have them keep a good watch on his farm.
The idea of using black people to help defend the bowery was already well-established by this point – there was a longstanding practice of employing the company blacks to support the various war efforts of the colonists, whether as soldiers, builders, or messengers. During the next summer, in 1660, an enslaved man arrived at Rensselaerswijck carrying a note of vital importance. The note allowed the man to traverse the distance between the Esopus River and Rensselaerswijck without concern for slave catchers, which was a considerable asset as the countryside teemed with bounty hunters keen to capture runaways. Even after he arrived at the patroonship, the details of his journey crossed the Atlantic to Holland. Later that year, Jeremias van Rensselaer wrote to Jan Baptist, “There came the Negro of Mr. Lamontagne, bringing with him a note saying that in the Esopus there had been trouble between the Dutch and the Indians and that on both sides people had been killed.”
The Bowery Road extended from De Heere Straat (commonly referred to as the “brede weg” or “wide way,” which is now present-day Broadway) north of the Wall through both the company-owned and privately-owned farmlands. Stuyvesant’s Bowery was a farm on a large tract of land, which was formed when the Director General acquired and combined two smaller boweries. It was seen by many – both enslaved and free – as a gathering place for those spending time north of the town. Domine Henricus Selijns, the Dutch Reformed minister contracted by Stuyvesant to lead worship service at the chapel on his Bowery, wrote to his leadership back in the Netherlands, describing the African world that he encountered, a world that included both free and enslaved black people who attended service at the chapel.
There was a bustling weekly market nearby the bowery and the so-called “Negro lots”, at the crossroads of the roads to Fort Orange and New England. Many of the free and enslaved people would buy and sell goods at this market, recreating, as scholars have noted, a semblance of the market life that they would have known in the bustling cities of their homeland. A hospital had also been erected in the area in 1650, intended to treat the wounds received by soldiers and tend to the health needs of the company blacks. A segregated burial ground was erected in the mid seventeenth century and set apart from areas used to inter other colonists, which remained in use until the later decades of the eighteenth century. The site, the oldest and most extensive black burial site excavated in the United States, is currently a National Monument.
Free communities and landholding
Free blacks in New Netherland were not resigned to merely be tenants for the remainder of their days, but could, and often did, become landholders. Each of the enslaved people manumitted in 1644 were granted and received plots of land in addition to their freedom, a practice that would continue for many of those freed from slavery during the later years of the colony. Among those granted land alongside freedom was Catelina, the widow of a man named Jochim Antony. Women in the Dutch colonies were able during this period to own land and property, and to pass it down legally and officially through inheritance rights and customs. This was uncommon in most European lands, where women themselves were often treated as property of their male relatives, whether “free” or not.
Double Standards of Punishment
New Netherland’s black residents lived lives constrained by racial inequity and their punishments diverged from those of other colonists. One little girl, a free black person named Lysbeth Anthonissen, was charged with theft of wampum (also called sewan) the native shell currency that fueled local markets. Her sentence punished not just her, but also her parents, as she was to be publicly whipped by her mother in front of the magistrates. Several years following the public whipping, as a young teenager, Lysbeth reappeared in the court record, this time facing a death sentence in an arson case. She had been forced to work as a sex worker by the couple who held her indenture and she attempted to set fire to their house. At the last minute her sentence of death was commuted and she was sold into lifelong heritable slavery to her abusers (although they quickly put her up for sale).
Being made to work like or alongside black people was seen as dishonorable in New Netherland, and it was used as a punishment meted out to several white colonists. Gysbert Cornelissen Beyerlandt was branded a troublemaker in 1639 for wounding a soldier at the fort in New Amsterdam and was sentenced to “work with the Negroes for the Company until such time as the first sloop shall sail for the South river and to serve the Company there.” In 1658, soldier Peter Hendricksen deserted his post and received a sentence that included having his head shaved and being made to work with the Negros for two years. In 1661, another man named Gerrit Pelser was condemned to two months of hard labor “with the negroes.”
Transition to English rule
The lives of enslaved and free black people were, like many of the inhabitants of the colony of New Netherland, impacted by the capture of the land by the English. When the colony fell in 1664, those who had gained their freedom and landholdings remained free property owners. When it was retaken by the Dutch in 1673, several of those landholders swore oaths of allegiance to the Dutch in an effort to ensure their property rights. But, when the colony was given to the English at the end of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the black community suffered retaliation, with some ultimately losing their landholdings. For those who were able to maintain their property, they faced racism and discrimination from both their remaining Dutch and new English neighbors. When a slave uprising broke out in 1712 in New York City, which resulted in the deaths of several white colonists a dragnet ensued, leading to mass arrests and the swift and draconian public torture and execution of those black people convicted. In its wake, free blacks were blamed and most lost control of their property on the island of Manhattan. Nonetheless, some communities that had been seeded by such free black founders during the decades of Dutch rule, such as those on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, remained into the middle decades of the eighteenth century.
Slavery continued to grow after the fall of the colony, as other large, patroon-style landholdings, called “manors,” were established along the Hudson River Valley. Among the manorial estates granted patents were the Manor of Livingston, Phillipsburg Manor, and the former patroonship of Rensselaerswyck, which were located in modern-day Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, and Putnam Counties. These large landholdings had correspondingly large slaveholdings, and their manor lords held the greatest number of enslaved people in the northern colonies.
Vestiges of the original Afro-Dutch culture continued, however, remaining in the language, culture, and religious practices of some black New Yorkers well into the nineteenth century; a history essential to any understanding of New York’s colonial origin story despite many enduring myths and lapses.
Nicole Saffold Maskiell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History, University of South Carolina, Columbia
Author of the upcoming book, Bound by Bondage: Slavery and the Creation of a Northern Gentry
August 20, 1659
van Rensselaer, Jeremias
New York State Library. Van Rensselaer Manor Papers. Correspondence of Jeremias van Rensselaer. Letter books of Jeremias van Rensselaer SC7079 Box 4, Folder 17.
This record is not part of the New York State Archives’ collection and is presented on our project partner’s behalf for educational use only. Please contact the home repository for information on copyright and reproductions.
Burial 254 is of a child between 3 ½ and 5 ½ years old. A silver pendant was recovered during laboratory cleaning of the skeletal remains. It was found near the child’s mandible and may have been worn as an earring or strung around the neck. The original artifacts were reinterred with 419 ancestral remains in 2003; however, replicas of some of the original artifacts are displayed at the Visitor Center.
Rights: National Park Service
Patent. Catelina, widow of Jochim Antony, negro; 4 morgens and 91 rods of land on the island of Manhattan, next the above, a common double wagon road remaining between both.
July 13 1643
New York State Archives. New Netherland. Council. Dutch colonial patents and deeds, 1630-1664. Series A1880. Volume GG.
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Eric Adams become the 110th Mayor of New York City and moves into Gracie Mansion with only his mattress.
Joe Biden becomes the 46th president in the United States. Kamala Harris becomes the first Asian and Black woman to be Vice-President of the United States
New York city become the epicenter to the coronavirus 3 weeks after the first case was discovered.
Gracie Mansion celebrates its 75th Anniversary with an installation titled New York 1942.
New York City introduces 3-K for all early childhood education program for 3-year-olds.
Queens native, Donald J. Trump is elected as 45th president.
Mayor de Blasio unveils a plan to seek public, private, city and state funds to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units, making it mandatory for developers to incorporate inclusionary housing.
Pope Francis becomes the third pontiff to visit New York; his visit includes an address to the General Assembly, Interfaith Services at the 9/11 Memorial, and mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Ticker tape parade along the “Canyon of Heroes” honoring the USA following its historic run at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup win to give the country its third title, becoming the only nation to achieve that feat.
The Gracie Mansion Conservancy marks its 35th anniversary in 2016 with renewed public access and programming.
The New York metropolitan area becomes home to the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, constituting the largest metropolitan Asian American group in the United States and the largest Asian-national metropolitan diaspora in the Western Hemisphere.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is elected 109th mayor of New York City, he and First Lady Chirlane McCray move into Gracie Mansion with their children Chiara and Dante; they are the first Mansion residents in 13 years.
Mayor de Blasio unveils his ambitious plan to provide free pre-kindergarten classrooms by the 2015-2016 school year.
Hurricane Sandy causes approximately $65 billion in damages in New York and 23 other US states.
The 9/11 Memorial opens 10 years after the attack.
Governor Andrew Cuomo introduces the Marriage Equality Act which passes the Assembly
New York City gain the largest population of American Indians and Alaska Natives of any location within the United States.
After two successful referenda, the period of service by a Mayor and other municipal office holders is limited to two successive four-year terms
Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office.
The Great Recession shakes the global economy.
Citi Field is built as a replacement of Shea Stadium in 2008 and becomes the new home of the New York Mets.
Port Authority reaches a deal to own the One World Trade Center in 2006
Reopening of the Museum of Modern Art after the designs of Yoshio Taniguchi and Kohn Pedersen Fox.
Second major restoration of interior and exterior of Gracie Mansion as “the People’s House;” Mayor Bloomberg opts not to move in.
The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act is passed by the New York State Legislature.
9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon; the 4th plane, likely intended to destroy the White House, is downed by passengers in western Pennsylvania
Michael Bloomberg is elected 108th mayor of New York City
Hillary Rodham Clinton elected Senator for New York
Rudy Giuliani is elected 107th mayor of New York City; takes up residence in Gracie Mansion with wife Donna Hanover and children Andrew and Caroline
Guillermo Linares wins his race for New York City Council becoming the first Dominican elected to municipal government.
David Dinkins is elected 106th mayor of New York City, the first African American to hold the post; takes up residence in Gracie Mansion with wife Joyce
NYSE registers its first 100 million share day.
Local playwright and novelist Larry Kramer helps to establish the Gay Men’s Health Crisis ACT UP.
The epidemic later known as AIDS/HIV is discovered and announced; the New York LGBT community is hit hardest.
Immigration of Dominicans to New York emerges as a major force in New York City demographics in search of greater social and economic opportunities. Within a decade Dominicans constitute New York’s second largest Hispanic population.
Mayor Edward I. Koch and philanthropist Joan K. Davidson create the Grand Central Conservancy as an ongoing public/private stewardship partner for the care of public interpretation of the mayoral residence.
John Lennon is killed while returning home to the landmark Dakota on Central Park West.
MTA workers goes on strike on April 1, 1980 to protest for higher wages.
Ed Koch is elected 105th mayor of New York City; takes up residence at Gracie Mansion.
Blackouts in New York City become symbols of urban decline and the city-wide fiscal crisis.
Origins of hip-hop and punk music in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
The “Op Sail” celebration of the tall ships for America’s Bicentennial and the Democratic Convention nominating Jimmy Carter signals New York’s resilient revival.
Daily News headline: “Ford to City: Drop Dead” as the city prepares for bankruptcy.
Abraham Beame is elected 104th mayor of New York City, the first Jewish mayor; takes up residence in Gracie Mansion with wife Mary.
Hip hop and rap emerge for the first time at African American Block Parties held in or near the 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartments in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. Here such pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc, Kurtis Blow, Grandmasters Caz and Flash introduced a new vocal style and the percussive breaks of manipulated turntables.
Completion of Tower 2 of the World Trade Center.
Herman Badillo takes the oath as Bronx Borough President to become the first Puerto Rican elected to New York City government
Stonewall Riots in New York spark the modern gay liberation movement; Mayor Lindsay cooperates in getting questions about homosexuality removed from New York City hiring practices. Brooklyn native and educator Shirley Chisholm is elected to the US House of Representatives from New York City’s District 12, becoming the first African American woman ever to serve in Congress. Her resolute motto is “unbought and unbossed.” In 1972, she would become the first African-American to run for a major party’s Presidential nomination, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts completes its campus after seven years of construction
Two hundred thousand students take part in a giant anti-war rally in Central Park
Mayor Lindsay opens the Susan F. Wagner Wing of Gracie Mansion conceived by the former First Lady who fell victim to cancer before completion. Architect Mott B. Schmidt designed the new ceremonial rooms in the Federal-revival style.
Mayor Wagner signs the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission into law.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 caused a revival in Chinese immigration, and the community’s population gradually increased until 1968, when the quota was lifted and the Chinese American population skyrocketed nowhere more so than to New York City.
John Lindsay is elected 103rd mayor of New York City; takes up residence in Gracie Mansion with wife Mary and children John Jr., Anne, Katharine, and Margaret.
Robert F. Wagner initiates a plan for an addition to Gracie Mansion, a simple two-story wing, unobtrusively attached to the main house later named the Susan B. Wagner Wing in memory of her death during its construction; New York architect, Mott B. Schmidt, is hired as lead architect for a federal-style design reflects the original 1799 mansion.
Opening of a second World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow, Queens
Shea Stadiums is built and becomes the home to the Mets
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.
Opening of the Pan Am Building by Emery Roth & Sons, Pietro Belluschi, and Walter Gropius.
Demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s Pennsylvania Rail Road Station gives rise to the Historic Preservation movement
President John F. Kennedy comes to Gracie Mansion to give a speech about medical care for seniors to a group of Mayors across the United States.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum opens on Fifth Avenue.
Large-scale immigration of Haitian to New York City begins amidst the reign of terror unleashed by the dictatorship of Francis Duvalier
The Village Voice is launched by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer on October 26, 1955 from a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village, its initial coverage area.
Subway and bus systems are put under management of the Transit Authority; demolition of 3rd Avenue “el” train.
Robert F. Wagner Jr. is elected 102nd mayor of New York City; moves into Gracie Mansion with first wife Susan and their children Duncan and Robert III.
The first mass-produced token to be put into use was coined in 1953 when the fare was fifteen cents. This version was used until 1970 when the fare rose to twenty cents.
Opening of Lever House on Park Avenue, designed by Gordon Bunshaft – the city’s first “glass box” International Style office building
The Census reports that 56% of the city’s population is foreign-born, or of foreign or mixed parentage
Vincent R. Impelletteri becomes acting mayor upon resignation of William O’Dwyer.; elected the 101st mayor, the first since the consolidation of greater New York in 1898 elected without a major party’s ballot line; election is a populist uprising against the political system; moves into Gracie Mansion with wife Elizabeth
New York native Gore Vidal’s publishes his third novel, The City and the Pillar; it one of the first American novels depicting an opening gay and thriving protagonist.
The Met Gala is founded by Eleanor Lambert.
Jackie Robinson signed by Branch Rickey and his Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American to play Major League baseball.
New York native and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is named by President Truman as a delegate to the nascent United Nations, where as head of its Human Rights Commission she issues the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the core principle of the new world body
Establishment of United Nations on a plot of land purchased by the Rockefeller family at the behest yet again of Robert Moses; first performances of the Ballet Society, formed by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirsten and later called the New York City Ballet
New York City Victory Parade:82nd Airborne Division; chosen as the “All American Division” to represent the Army and the end of WWII
William O’Dwyer is elected 100th mayor of New York City; moves into Gracie Mansion with his first wife Catherine; upon their divorce second wife Sloan moves in
The end of World War II brings Times Square ticker tape on V.E. Day, May 8, and V.J. Day, August 14, following use of the atom bomb in Japan
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected 32nd President of the United States.
New York Fashion Week is established by the Council of Fashion Designs of America (CFDA) founder Eleanor Lambert to promote American designers
Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and his family move in to Gracie Mansion as the first official residents of New York’s “Little White House,” as always sought by regional public servant, Robert Moses, then near the pinnacle of his broad powers; Moses uses war time security as the catalytic imperative for the move.
Construction begins on Idlewild Airport, now known as JFK.
The New York World’s Fair takes place in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, heralding “the world of tomorrow” at the threshold of the greatest cataclysm in global history.
City enacts 2% sales tax for unemployment relief.
City enacts 2% sales tax for unemployment relief. Robert Moses becomes Parks Commissioner for New York City.
Robert Moses becomes Parks Commissioner for New York City.
Fiorello H. LaGuardia is elected 99th mayor of New York City
Dedication of Empire State Building; Whitney Museum of American Art opens; George Washington Bridge connecting Manhattan to the American mainland opens; first television station opens in New York.
The Chrysler Building is completed.
Construction of the Empire State building begins.
Museum of Modern Art is founded.
“Black Tuesday” stock market crash marks onset of the Great Depression in the U.S.
Charles Lindbergh is given an enormous ticker-tape parade to celebrate his solo flight across the Atlantic; opening of the Holland Tunnel; the Bell Telephone Laboratory sends first television pictures from New York to Washington.
The New Yorker magazine is founded by Harold Ross.
Gracie Mansion houses the newly-created Museum of the City of New York.
The first baseball game is played in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
The beginning of Prohibition.
The Daily News is founded by Joseph Medill Patterson, the first U.S. daily printed in tabloid format.
The Yankees sign Babe Ruth; nicknamed “The Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat”, he begins his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieves his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees.
The United States enters World War I; wartime curfew is set at 1 AM, canceling all-night license for the sale of intoxicating drinks. The American entry into World War I prompts Congress to allow Puerto Ricans to migrate freely to the United States. New York is their primary destination. The Great Migration to New York continues through the 1970s with barrio neighborhoods taking hold in every borough. On November 2, the women of New York gain the right to vote for the first time, three years preceding the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution making universal suffrage the law of the land.
The Apollo Theater opens in Harlem.
World War I breaks out in Europe; the New York Stock Exchange is closed for 42 months.
The RMS Titanic sinks; Colonel Archibald Gracie IV, an American writer, amateur historian, and real estate investor, survives the sinking of the RMS Titanic by climbing aboard an overturned collapsible lifeboat only to die 8 months later from the lasting damage of hypothermia; he is the last survivor to leave the ship and first adult survivor to die.
Completion of Manhattan Bridge linking Manhattan and Brooklyn; National Negro Committee forms; reorganizes at a conference in New York City’s Henry Street Settlement to become the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, aka NAACP.
Motor buses replace the last horse-drawn stage coach; metered Taxi cabs appear; the first of the Ziegfeld Follies is staged on Broadway.
The Julliard School is founded in 1905 and becomes one of the leading schools in the world for performing arts education.
Construction for Penn Station begins (1905)
The General Slocum catches fire and sinks in the East River on a chartered run, carrying members of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (German Americans from Little Germany, Manhattan) to a church picnic; an estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 people on board die; the General Slocum disaster is the New York area’s worst in terms of loss of life until the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Stuyvesant High School is founded in 1904 as the first specialized high school in New York City. It started out as an all-boys school but would become co-ed in 1969.
Construction for Grand Central Terminal begins
New York City native Theodore Roosevelt becomes the 26th President of the United states after the assassination of President McKinley
Race riot on Eighth Avenue from 27th to 42nd Streets triggers movement of African Americans to Harlem.
With victory in the Spanish American War, Puerto Rico becomes an American territory.
Opening of the Bronx Zoo by the New York Zoological Society.
Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island become Greater New York City led by the brilliant political tactician Andrew Haswell Green.
The New York City Borough of Queens is authorized on May 4, 1897 by a vote of the New York State Legislature; It is believed that the county is named after Catherine of Braganza, queen of England in 1763 when it was one of twelve counties comprising New York colonies; the county was founded alongside Kings County (Brooklyn,) which is named after her husband, King Charles II, and Richmond County (Staten Island,) named after Charles’s illegitimate son, the 1st Duke of Richmond)
The Brooklyn Museum opens in the former Brooklyn Apprentice’s Library.
The “Dow Jones Industrial Average” is officially launched. It is the first of several indices of stock and bond prices on the New York Stock Exchange.
New York’s municipal government acquires Gracie Mansion from private owners
Formation of New York Public Library; electric street lighting reaches 42nd Street
Ellis Island opens as city’s depot for immigrants.
The New York Botanical Garden opens on the former Lorillard Estate in the Bronx.
Carnegie Hall opens its doors in 1891
Reporters Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser found The Wall Street Journal, which is published for the first time on July 8, 1889, and begins delivery of the Dow Jones News Service via telegraph.
New York’s first ticker tape parade takes place for President Grover Cleveland.
First use of electric streetcars
A newspaper is created in Staten Island by printer John J. Crawford and businessman James C. Kennedy as the Richmond County Advance, later re-named The Staten Island Advance. It remains the only daily newspaper published in the borough, and the only borough to have its own major daily paper.
The U.S. receives the Statue of Liberty as a gift from France; the “el” trains extend to the Bronx.
Brooklyn Bridge opens as an engineering marvel linking Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Metropolitan Opera opens its first dedicated theater on Broadway.
The greatest wave of Italian and Russian-Jewish immigration to New York begins as impelled by hardship and persecution across Europe.
New York City’s first electric street lights installed.
Opening of the first Madison Square Garden.
Opening of the American Museum of Natural History.
Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates the telephone in New York City?
Completion of an expanded Central Park to its full present 843 acres.
The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice is founded, an institution dedicated to supervising the morality of the public.
Manhattan’s first elevated railroad or “el” begins operation; first trans-continental rail car from California reaches New York City.
Metropolitan Museum of Art opens; the American Renaissance gains momentum in order to beautify the built landscape.
Chinese immigrants begin arriving in New York City, coming to Lower Manhattan around 1870, looking for the “gold” America has to offer, however, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, causes an abrupt decline in the number of Chinese who emigrate to the City and the rest of the United States.
Harper’s Bazar is founded in New York; William Randolph Hearst changes it to Harper’s Bazaar in 1929.
The War concludes with a Union Victory and slavery ends eight months later with the passage of the 13th Amendment
Publication of the Report of the Council of Hygiene and Public Health of the Citizens’ Association of New York upon the sanitary condition of the City, the first such sanitary survey of any American city which spawns the creation of the Metropolitan Board of Health.
Archibald Gracie III, dies serving as a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War after moving his family to Mobile, Alabama in 1857 to work for his father’s firm. Looking out at the Union lines through his telescope, an artillery shell explodes in front of him, breaking his neck and killing him instantly, however he is credited with saving General Lee’s life during the Siege of Petersburg.
President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
In the Proclamation’s wake, the Civil War Draft Riots in New York result in the deaths of at least 119 people, as Democratic Party stalwarts incite the white working class to violence against both the Federal Government and black New Yorkers, whose new freedom is distorted as a threat to their livelihoods
Firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina marks of the opening of the Civil War, finding New Yorkers torn in their chosen allegiances
The Brooklyn Academy of Music presents its first public performance.
Abraham Lincoln speaks at Cooper Union.
The blueprint of America’s first landscaped public park, named simply “Greensward” and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, is selected by the Board of Commissioners of Central Park from 33 competing entries.
Cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Cathedral laid.
Ah Ken arrives in New York City; he is the first Chinese person credited as having permanently immigrated to what becomes known as Chinatown.
Gang feud between the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits is quelled by militia in the notorious Five Points neighborhood.
To accommodate the growing number of immigrants to the United States who use New York as their first port of call, an official immigration center is established at Castle Garden.
Great Irish Famine leads to the first major influx of Irish immigrants to New York.
Henry Jarvis Raymond, an American journalist and politician co-founds with George Jones The New York Times, initially published as the New-York Daily Times.
The Astor Library opens as New York’s first free public library in the building now home to the Joseph Papp Public Theater on Lafayette Street.
City College, later known as City University of New York (CUNY) is founded in Harlem as the Free Academy of the City of New York by wealthy businessman and president of the Board of Education, Townsend Harris.
Opening of Croton Aqueduct supplies the city with fresh water.
The Great Western, the first regular transatlantic steamship service, sails from the Battery.
New York native Martin Van Buren becomes the 8th President of the United States.
December 16-17: fire destroys much of the property between South Street, Coenties Slip, Broad and Wall Streets; the loss of 700 buildings and property worth $22 million plunges most of the City’s insurance industry into bankruptcy.
The first recorded U.S. bank robbery occurs at the City Bank in New York $245,000 is stolen. This amount in 2017 would be approximately $4,200,000,000!
Archibald Gracie dies from the skin disease still known as St. Anthony’s Fire.
Abolition of slavery in New York State; the first black newspaper in the United States, Freedom’s Journal, is founded in New York.
Coney Island remains isolated until the Coney Island Road and Bridge Company constructs a bridge and toll house on Coney Island Creek; horse-drawn carriages soon speed south to the beach; Coney Island is transformed into the “Playground of the World”.
Mercantile Library is founded to discourage young merchants’ clerks from spending their evenings lounging on street corners or frequenting houses of ill repute.
First motorized ferry between New York and Staten Island, commanded by Captain John De Forest, the brother-in-law of Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1838, Vanderbilt, who had grown wealthy in the steamboat business in New York waters, buys control of the company.
Formation of New York Stock and Exchange Board.
Namesake War begins against Great Britain and causes a loss in ship trade that nearly bankrupts Archibald Gracie, forcing the sale of Gracie Mansion in 1823 to his son-in-law Joseph Foulke.
The Mayor approves the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 for the streets of Manhattan
President Jefferson’s embargo on foreign trade shuts down New York ports.
The cornerstone of City Hall is laid following the design of architects Joseph-François Mangin and John McComb, Jr., the same architect likely responsible for Gracie Mansion as well as Alexander Hamilton’s nearby Grange homestead.
The Gracies move into their new mansion overlooking the waters of “Hell Gate,” where the Hudson River, East River, and Long Island Sound powerfully converge. Alexander Hamilton launches The New-York Evening Post after recruiting investors at an outing at Gracie Mansion with Archibald Gracie as host and business partner.
Alexander Hamilton launches The New-York Evening Post after recruiting investors at an outing at Gracie Mansion with Archibald Gracie as host and business partner.
Work begins on Gracie Mansion
Governor John Jay signs into law an Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, granting eventual freedom to children born of slaves in New York.
George Washington dies at Mount Vernon, VA.
New York City adopts the dollar, dime, and cent for public use.
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the City’s first black church, is founded.
“Yankees” from New England make up the first great wave of domestic migration. Most of the migrants who come to New York City between l790 and 1840 are descendants of the original colonial settlers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
New York City serves the first national capital.
George Washington becomes first President of the United States, sworn in on the upper balcony of the original Federal Hall on New York’s Wall Street.
The African Free School, the City’s first black school, is founded by the Manumission Society.
The devout, enslaved Catholic Pierre Toussaint arrives in New York City, where his owners seek refuge from Haiti’s nascent revolution against it French colonizers. As a successful businessman, who secured his freedom and used a growing fortune to serve New York’s poor, Toussaint was venerated Pope John Paul II in 1996 on the path to Catholic sainthood
Founded. Archibald Gracie sails to America with a cargo of goods; uses the proceedings to invest in a mercantile company in New York City; later moves to Petersburg, Virginia, and engages in the export of tobacco to Great Britain; in 1793, he moves back to New York and becomes a commissary merchant and ship owner (Archibald Gracie and Sons, East India Merchants); Gracie is a business partner of Alexander Hamilton’s and a friend of John Jay’s.
Law of May 12 bars Loyalists from voting or holding office. This law disqualifies more than two-thirds of all of the inhabitants of the City and County of New York.
British occupy New York City during the course of the American Revolution.
November 30, 1782 – John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens and John Adams sign preliminary articles of peace with
Britain. Definitive treaty signed September 3, 1783. Evacuation of British Army and
Loyalists occurs via Staten Island.
July 4th, publication of The Declaration of Independence at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia; five days later on July 9th, 1776, New York’s Provincial Congress joins the other 12 colonies by approving it.
Establishment of the New York Chamber of Commerce to promote the “general interest of the Colony, and the commerce of the city in particular”.
The Continental Congress meets in New York to organize resistance to British
Parliamentary authority after passage of
the Stamp Act.
Monthly packet ship service established
between New York and London.
Last slave market in New York City closes at Clark’s Slip on the East River shoreline at the foot of Wall Street, where business leaders and traders gathering at the nearby Tontine’s Coffee House finally reject its savage blight.
New York City passes first laws requiring medical practitioners to be examined and licensed.
On June 25th Archibald Gracie was born in Dumfries, Scotland, destined for a career in the West Indies shipping trade.
Columbia University is found as Kings
College in New York City.