Mayor Eric Adams
Eric Adams become the 110th Mayor of New York City and moves into Gracie Mansion with only his mattress.
Imagine that it’s a warm summer morning in the year 1660. You are strolling through the Manhattan farm of the carpenter Sybout Claessens and his wife Susanna Jans overlooking the East River, today the site of Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz Park. Inland to your west stretches a rural landscape of red maple, black cherry, and sweetgum trees and underbrush; sharp-shinned and red-tailed hawks hover overhead, alert for signs of meadow voles and deer-mice darting around below. Wolves and black bears are known to range through this wooded countryside, so you keep your eyes peeled for them. Facing east into the morning sun, you peer across the expanse of water known as Hellegat (Bright Strait, or Clear Passage, part of the East River) to Lange Eylandt (Long Island, specifically Astoria, Queens) where the farmhouse of William and Elizabeth Hallet stands near the shoreline. You can also view the northern tip of Varckens Eylandt (Hog Island, today Roosevelt Island), owned by François Fyn and recently farmed by Laurens Duyts. Peering northwest along the wetlands that hug the East River shore to the mouth of Harlem Creek (between what are now East 107th and 109th Streets at the FDR Drive), you also see the two islands originally known to the Dutch by their Lenape names as Tenkenas and Minnahanonck (Wards and Randalls Islands). Beyond, out of sight, sit the emerging village of Nieuw Haerlem (East 125th Street at First Avenue) and the 680-acre grain and tobacco farm established across the Harlem River by Jonas Bronck, who will bequeath his name to the surrounding region on the North American mainland—the Bronx.
In every direction, you survey a landscape in the process of being transformed by Dutch colonists, other Europeans, and enslaved Africans who have gradually been occupying this territory ever since the first arrival of transatlantic settlers under the direction of the Dutch West India Company in 1624. Some six miles to the south at the tip of Manhattan stands the compact but thriving port city of New Amsterdam, home to some 1,500 souls, and administrative headquarters for the entire colony of New Netherland (what is now the New York City area, western Long Island, northern New Jersey, and the Hudson and Delaware River valleys). Facing New Amsterdam at the mouth of the East River sits the small Nutten (Nut, today Governors) Island, where Claessens co-leased a sawmill from the West India Company in 1639. Like other colonists, Claessens has been in and out of New Amsterdam’s court as both plaintiff and defendant in various lawsuits over debts, for slandering a miller named Abraham Pietersen (the offending comment is not recorded), at least one dispute over his work as a house builder, and a drawn-out wrangle over payment for a house lot he bought in 1651 facing the harbor close to the mouth of the Heere Gracht, the canal running along what is today Broad Street. Claessens is also one of the settlers who has protested the allegedly despotic ways of director-general Petrus Stuyvesant, making a trip home to the fatherland in 1649 to submit a memorial to the Dutch governing body, the States General, “complaining of Stuyvesant’s conduct.”
Claessens named his farm Hoorn’s Hook after his birthplace, the town of Hoorn in the Netherlands. The property, granted to him by an earlier director-general, Willem Kieft, in 1646, contained 50 morgen (about 100 acres) along the river, running inland to a point at about York Avenue, bounded approximately by the current locations of East 83rd and East 90th Streets. Yet there is much that we don’t know about this bouwerie (Dutch for farm). Did Claessens occupy and farm this land, or hold it in reserve? Did he, perhaps, send a servant or tenant to farm, while he stayed in his house in New Amsterdam? Did he build some form of shelter on the farm? We do know that later in the century, farmers in northern Manhattan were harvesting “hay meadows” and rotating crops—planting buckwheat, pumpkins, turnips, and “summer fruits,” while also pasturing cattle and oxen—and perhaps Claessens did likewise.
We also know that Claessen’s occupancy—along with that of his neighbors — set in motion the making of a Dutch colonial world along the wooded shores of the East River. That world, however, was never exclusively Dutch. Indigenous people, enslaved Africans, and other Europeans played crucial roles in shaping the topography and history of a territory that would one day be an integral part of the world’s largest and most influential city, as well as the official residence of its mayors. That intermingling of peoples, in fact, a hallmark of New York City’s history, began as a defining trait of the city’s Dutch origins.
First to come were the Native Americans. Some six thousand years ago, bands of people arrived in the area, migrating between seasonal campsites they used for hunting, gathering, planting, and fishing. These were predecessors of the Lenape, the people Henry Hudson encountered on his voyage of exploration in 1609, and among whom colonists started settling in 1624. It’s possible that Lenape bands used the shoreline of what are now the East Eighties to fish in the East River. The landscape ecologist Eric W. Sanderson believes that one of six possible Lenape East River fishing camps may have existed at the foot of East 80th Street, where a natural fresh-water stream ran into the river. For centuries, the Lenape had been using and controlling this land and waterscape–“wild” to untrained European eyes—to sustain themselves without disrupting the seasonal and yearly cycles of plant growth and animal migration they relied on. In Claessens’s day, the Lenape used a trail they had established running Manhattan’s north-to-south length for inland traveling. Known to Europeans as the Wickquageck Road, it was later appropriated to be part of the Boston Post Road linking New York City to New England. The road’s closest proximity to Hoorn’s Hook was at about Fifth Avenue and East 85th Street. But Claessens’s farm also sat to the south of a possible Lenape settlement at Lexington Avenue and East 98th Street (called Konaande Kongh in a 1669 deed) and a fishing beach on the Harlem River at about East 106th Street.
The coming of the Dutch engaged the Lenape in a complex relationship that turned their world upside down, starting from the moment the Lenape discovered Henry Hudson and his Dutch East India Company crew entering their waters in 1609. The Lenape-Dutch relationship evolved through the trade of European cloth, hardware, alcohol, and other goods for beaver and otter pelts that colonists shipped back to Europe to be sold and made into hats and garments. Before Claessens was granted his land, the colonial director-general Pieter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from one group of Lenape in 1626—a transaction the Indigenous people probably understood as a mutual sharing of resources rather than as a permanent cession of property. By 1640, however, the relationship was being stretched to the breaking point by mutual mistrust, Dutch encroachment on Lenape settlements, and Dutch attempts to tax the Native people. Kieft’s War, a conflict that erupted intermittently between 1640 and 1645, devastated both Lenape and Dutch communities across what is now the Greater New York area. Claessen’s wife Susannah, in fact, was the recent widow of Aert Teunissen Van Putten, killed fighting the Lenape in 1643. (Kieft’s and Stuyvesant’s refusal to lease Susannah the farm and brewery that Aert had developed at “Hoboquin”– Hoboken, New Jersey– helped motivate Claessens’s complaint before the States General in 1649.)
Among those who suffered from Kieft’s War were settlers who preceded Claessens to the remote woods of northern Manhattan. In 1644, the farmhouse of Jochem Pietersen Kuyter and his wife Lentje Martens burned down, possibly as the result of a Lenape attack. Kuyter’s 400-acre farm stretching along the East River above East 127th Street was a prime example of how ambitious farmers had spread out onto outlying lands, making them vulnerable during war. Claessens’s 1646 title to Hoorn’s Hook, in fact, was part of a strategy to repopulate New Amsterdam’s outskirts after Lenape sachems and Dutch leaders concluded a peace treaty in 1645. When continuing tensions triggered another Dutch-Lenape war in 1655, the remote farmers once again became easy targets. Lenape warriors killed settlers, reportedly including Kuyter’s widow. Hoorn’s Hook was part of this war zone, although Claessens survived unscathed (again, whether he was living at Hoorn’s Hook or—more likely– safe in his downtown house is an open question).
One consequence of the 1655 war was the determination of the next director-general, Petrus Stuyvesant, to create a fortified village in northern Manhattan as a bulwark and early-warning system against future Lenape attacks. Established as Nieuw Haerlem in 1658 at what is now East 125th Street near the Harlem River, and home to over twenty families by 1661, this outpost would eventually give its name to an entire neighborhood—Harlem. The village would draw the Hoorn’s Hook farm into its orbit, well beyond the Dutch period of New York’s history.
A final series of battles fought in the Hudson Valley between 1659 and 1663 broke Lenape resistance, although Native people remained a presence on the periphery of the lower Manhattan settlement that became New York City after the English took it from the Dutch in 1664. Yet Lenape people were not the only non-Europeans in the vicinity of Hoorn’s Hook. The Dutch had introduced slavery in New Amsterdam as early as 1625-1626, and they sent enslaved Africans to work on the city’s rural outskirts. In 1639 a map clearly shows “The quarter of the blacks, the Company’s slaves” near the mouth of a creek running into the East River at what is now 74th Street. Ordinarily these enslaved African men owned by the Dutch West India Company had to live in a barracks several miles distant in New Amsterdam. This rural “quarter” may have been a temporary campsite where the enslaved laborers cut timber at a sawmill for use in the construction of the growing city to the south.
During the 1640s officials freed and granted land to a group of older enslaved men and women in lower Manhattan on the condition that their children remain in bondage, but this “half-freedom” did not apply to many other Africans owned by the Company and private masters. In founding Nieuw Haerlem, Stuyvesant and his governing council suggested using “the Company’s Negroes” to build “a good wagon road” between New Amsterdam and the new village. By 1664, at least three Nieuw Haerlem farmers (Nicholas De Meyer, Daniel Tourneur, and Johannes Verveelen, the latter two future owners of parts of Hoorn’s Hook) owned enslaved workers. As we will see, slavery would remain a reality after the period of Dutch rule.
The Dutch language, Dutch Protestantism, Dutch legal and political practices, and Dutch cultural traditions shaped every aspect of life in New Amsterdam and northern Manhattan. Claessen and his wife Susanna Jans were born in the Netherlands, and during his lifetime (he died around 1680; Susanna’s death date is uncertain) his fellow northern Manhattan colonists included Dutch immigrants Jan Louwe Bogert (an ancestor of Theodore and Eleanore Roosevelt), Resolveert Waldron, Johannes Verveelen, and others. But under the Dutch, Manhattan Island also became one of the most diverse places in the transatlantic world, a location where some eighteen different languages were purportedly spoken by 1643.
This pluralism represented a mix of principle and policy on the part of the Dutch West India Company. Headquartered in Amsterdam, a richly cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant city, the Company repeatedly overruled its more conservative employee, director-general Stuyvesant, ordering him to permit Jews and English Quakers to live unmolested in New Netherland. (True, liberality went only so far: Reflecting religious politics in the Netherlands, the Company did not extend protections to Lutherans or Catholics, although small numbers of both were present in the colony).
To populate New Netherland, tolerating specified religious minorities (as well as fellow Calvinists from across Europe) made practical sense. Convincing Dutch families to cross the Atlantic to start new lives in a remote American outpost at the height of the Dutch Golden Age, an era of unrivaled commercial prosperity at home, proved a hard sell. At the same time, northwestern Europe was a world in motion, unsettled by economic change and new religious movements while also scarred by wars and persecutions. To populate the colony and build its economy, Stuyvesant and the Company accepted many non-Dutch Protestants, and by the 1660s other tongues besides Dutch, Lenape, and African languages could be heard in the vicinity of Hoorn’s Hook. Claessens’s neighbors across the East River in Queens, the Hallets, were English, while the early trailblazer Jochem Pietersen Kuyter had been Danish, and Jonas Bronck was either Danish or Swedish. Non-Dutch settlers outnumbered Netherlanders among Nieuw Haerlem’s early male residents. Villagers there included the couple Glaude and Hester Du Bois le Maistre, Protestant refugees from Catholic France, a German named Adolph Meyer, and Maria Vermilye, of Walloon (French-speaking Belgian Calvinist) descent.
A New Era:
Following the English takeover of New Amsterdam in 1664, the Dutch imprint endured in and around Hoorn’s Hook. By 1668, when the leaders of “New Harlem” confirmed that Claessens’s farm was legally part of their village as one of its “outside lands,” the varied European landholders of the village proper had already come together to establish a Reformed Church (originally located at what is now 125th Street near First Avenue), covenanting themselves under Dutch Calvinist doctrine.
In 1677 New Harlem’s officials presided over the division of the Hoorn’s Hook land (no longer in Claessens’s possession) into ten land lots that changed hands in a complex series of transactions into the eighteenth century. As several generations of “uptown” farmers intermarried and jockeyed for property, members of the Meyer, Bogert, Verveelen, le Maistre (Delamater), Tourneur, and other families bought, sold, and exchanged the ten lots. By now, Hoorn’s Hook was fruitful and profitable, with “good wheat, rye, barley, peas and buckwheat” grown there by 1687. In the same year Pieter Van Oblinus, owner of four of the ten lots including the Gracie Mansion site, planned to build a home for himself, the first documented dwelling to stand here, although its precise location is unknown.
Profitability also brought conflict. In 1679 Pieter’s father Joost Van Oblinus, then owner of Lot Number 10 (encompassing the Gracie Mansion site), and his neighbor Jan Louwe Bogert went to court over a salt meadow along “the Bay of Hellgate,” valuable for its hay as winter cattle fodder. A court ruling divided the contested meadow between them. Bogert had previously gone to court in 1675 to prevent other local farmers from trespassing on his land, just northwest of the Hook, as a shortcut “to the mill, the village, and church” at New Harlem. Between 1690 and 1710, members of the Delamater family bought and re-consolidated most of the acreage of Claessens’ original plot, and in the latter year Samuel Waldron—son of Resolveert Waldron, a Dutch immigrant who had been one of Stuyvesant’s functionaries—purchased it. In 1770 a Waldron heir would sell land fronting Hellgate Bay to merchant Jacob Walton, builder and occupant of the Bellevue mansion marking the site of Gracie Mansion, which followed it in 1799.
The relationships between people of color and Europeans that commenced in 1609 also continued beyond 1664. Though increasingly displaced during the Dutch era, the Lenape remained a local presence in the early English period. Despite Minuit’s 1626 “purchase” of Manhattan, some sachems asserted their continued claim to specific local tracts, probably calculating that the anxiety of farmers to secure unchallenged legal title under the new English regime worked to Lenape advantage. In 1669, for instance, a deed written in Dutch confirms that farmer Jan La Montagne agreed to buy from the sachem Rechewack and six other Lenape the area called Rechewanis or Montagne’s Point, a peninsula jutting out into wetlands along the Harlem River at 106th Street. La Montagne’s French Protestant family had originally been granted the land by Kieft in 1647, shortly after Claessens obtained Hoorn’s Hook.
While a small number of Lenape descendants remained in the New York City area, most moved west in a series of land sales and migrations that eventually brought survivors to Ontario, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. The activist stickers currently to be seen on Manhattan walls and lampposts affirming that the area is Lenape land remind us that the long history of Native dispossession began just as surely in Dutch New Amsterdam and English New York as everywhere else in the North American colonies.
More continuous was the African-American presence. The slavery instituted by the Dutch continued and expanded under the English. In 1667 New York City mayor Thomas Delavall leased to Johannes Verveelen (later an owner of one of the ten Hoorn’s Hook lots) a ferry connecting New Harlem village to the “Bronck-side,” provided he also establish a tavern and inn near the foot of East 123rd Street. Verveelen made his enslaved African man Matthys work as the ferryman, transporting passengers, cows, and oxen for stated fares in silver pence and wampum that went into Verveelen’s pocket, not Matthys’s. (“All cattle that are swum over pay but half price.”) White landowners nearby in the Bronx also owned Black people who worked as farm laborers. In 1681, for example, Colonel Lewis Morris, owner of much of the South Bronx (an estate soon to be called the Manor of Morrisania) sent enslaved workers across the river in canoes to bring back hay from meadows on the Manhattan riverfront that he claimed as his, triggering a lawsuit by New Harlem farmers who won title to the land. And English farmer-brewer Thomas Codrington, an early eighteenth-century owner of part of the Ten Lots originally granted to Sybout Claessens near what is now Gracie Mansion, was also reported to possess “half a dozen slaves.”
Slavery near Hoorn’s Hook could be brutal. In 1687 New Harlem court documents recorded “the beating to death of a negro child.” Yet some enslaved people devised ways to resist their bondage. In 1684 an enslaved man belonging to New Harlem farmer Jan Nagel burned down Nagel’s barn, killing several of his owner’s cows, although the man then apparently took his own life. Running away was a tempting option. In 1669 “a Negro Servant… big and tall, about 25 or 26 years old” belonging to Daniel Tourneur, a future owner of a Hoorn’s Hook lot, vanished. Tourneur surmised that the man was heading “toward New England,” and New York Governor Francis Lovelace alerted Westchester County’s constable to keep a look-out for him. Other African Americans made lives for themselves in the area. A “Negro Burying Ground” on East 126th Street, near the original Nieuw Haerlem village center, became the final resting place of both enslaved and free Black people between the seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries (New York State did not end slavery until 1827). Rediscovered in 2009, the site inspired the creation of the 126th Street Harlem African Burial Ground Memorial and Mixed-Use Project—a reminder of the continuous presence of Black New Yorkers in northern Manhattan from the Dutch period onward.
Lenape, African, European: All shaped the history of the neighborhoods we now know as the Upper East Side, Yorkville, and Harlem. The property successively known as Hoorn’s Hook, the Ten Lots, the Waldron Farm, Bellevue, and the Gracie Estate has stood as witness and participant in changes effected by Native, Dutch, African, French, German, Scandinavian, English, and many other New Yorkers who have benefited from this site over hundreds and, indeed, thousands of years.
Steven H. Jaffe, Ph.D.
Public Historian, Curator, and Lecturer
Author of New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham (Basic Books, 2012) and Activist New York: A History of People, Protest, and Politics (NYU Press, 2018).
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.