stood on the site now occupied by the former U.S. Customshouse at the end of Broadway, below Bowling Green. More on the fort.
NEXT STOP: BATTERY PARK
From the front of the Customshouse, detour due west toward the Hudson River. Enter Battery Park, veering toward the north side. Aim for the flagpole at the north end of the mall running into Castle Clinton.
"The large oysters are proper for roasting and stewing. Each of these will fill a spoon, and make a good bite. I have seen many in the shell a foot long."
-- Adriaen van der Donck in A Description of New Netherland, 1655.
The Dutch arriving on the Hudson River found one of the great oyster beds of the world, by some estimates containing half the world's supply. The Indians had long enjoyed the delicacy, piling great mounds of oyster shells along the Manhattan waterfront. And so the lane running along the shore eventually became known as Pearl Street. Landfill has since extended the island, but originally the shore ran from a jut of land below the fort known as Schuyler's Hook up the East River along today's Pearl. More on Pearl Street.
NEXT STOP: CITY TAVERN
Walk along Pearl Street to the corner of Coenties Alley (which is past Coenties Slip). Turn left on Coenties Alley.
"People ought to give [Director Kieft] a letter of recommendation to Master Gerrit."
-- Hendrick Kip in 1643 suggesting the current Director-General
be sent to the public executioner of Amsterdam.
Hendrick Kip was one of the more colorful characters living along Bridge Street, so named for the bridge over the ditch flowing out of Blommaert's Vly, a bog lying about where the New York Stock Exchange sits today. The ditch was later widened into a canal running along Broad Street. More on Bridge Street.
NEXT STOP: WHITEHALL
Continue along Bridge Street to Whitehall Street. Turn left and walk to the corner of State Street.
"Nearly the just fourth of New Amsterdam consists of brandy shops, tobacco or beer houses,'by the multitude whereof. . .the common people and the Company's servants are seriously debauched; and what is still worse, the youth. . .are drawn from the path of virtue."
-- Peter Stuyvesant, 1648.
Stone Street was the heart of New Amsterdam's drunkenness and debauchery. Actually the street took that name only in 1657 when it was the first street paved with stone blocks. Before then the people called it "Brouwer" Street for the breweries that lined it. More on Stone Street.
NEXT STOP: BROAD STREET
Continue along Stone Street to Broad Street.
Whitehall Street takes its name from the home Peter Stuyvesant built on a hook of land at the corner with State Street. The spot was called Schreyer's Hoek, "the Weepers' Point," as it was where New Amsterdamers bid fearful farewell to friends and relatives boarding ships. An Englishman named Tom Baxter lived in a shack on it until he backed his home country in one of the occasional wars the Dutch and English fought. Stuyvesant confiscated the property and built a not-particularly-imposing mansion surrounded by formal gardens. Known as the Great House, it was dubbed Whitehall by the conquering English, presumably in mockery after the palace in London. On market days, the lane running along Whitehall Street filled with farmers hawking their produce.
NEXT STOP: PEARL STREET
Go back on Whitehall Street to Pearl Street. Turn right.
"They have purchased the Island Manhattes from the Indians for the value of 60 guilders."
-- from a 1626 letter written in Amsterdam, the sole evidence that Peter Minuit bought Manhattan.
Battery Park was underwater when the Dutch arrived. At the northern entrance of the park along the mall leading to Castle Clinton, a flagpole marks Manhattan's original waterline. To celebrate the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, an enterprising artist painted a blue and green stripe all around the shoreline before landfill expanded the island. One of its last remnants passed over the subway grate a few feet from the pole. The base of the flagpole presents a sculpture of Peter Minuit and an Indian, commemorating the supposed purchase of Manhattan for sixty guilders in trade goods.
NEXT STOP: STONE STREET
Return to the front of the Customshouse. Proceed around the east side of the Building and turn left onto the first block of Stone Street.
"The Company's beer was so bad the profits couldn't service the mortgage on the City Tavern even in a hard-drinking town like ours."
-- Jackie Lambert in The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan.
In 1642, the West India Company built the Stadts Herbergh, the City Tavern, at the corner of Coenties Alley and Pearl Street. While the stone building was intended to be a respectable inn for travelers visiting the growing colony, its patrons were more frequently brawling drunks, refugees fleeing the Indians after Director Kieft's infamous massacres or men jailed for running afoul of the authorities. More on the City Tavern.
NEXT STOP: MILL LANE
Continue along Coenties Alley one block to Stone Street. Turn right and go to Mill Lane.
"Our first Domine couldn't stand the savage devils, the profanity of us settlers or the stale bread and gray peas that covered his plate."
-- Jackie Lambert in The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan.
Mill Lane runs for a single block between William and Stone Streets. Its name harkens back to 1626, when the original Manhattan settlers built a horse mill on the spot. A spacious second-floor room served as Manhattan's first church. Bells stolen from the Spanish in Puerto Rico rang from a tower over the mill. The Domine Jonas Michaelius held the first communion in 1628. More on the first Domine.
NEXT STOP: WALL STREET
Continue along Stone Street to William Street. Turn right and walk to Pearl Street. Turn left and walk to Wall Street.
"New Netherland is ... imminently exposed to invasion, surprisal and to the besieging of the cities and fortresses there."
-- Resolution of the States General of the Netherlands, 1652.
With that resolution, Wall Street came into being, not as a center of finance or wall of skyscrapers but as a palisade of wood between the East and Hudson Rivers. War between England and the Netherlands was beginning and English soldiers must be kept from attacking New Amsterdam by land. More on Wall Street.
NEXT STOP: MAIDEN LANE
Continue along Pearl Street to Maiden Lane.
According to one legend, Maiden Lane takes its name from three sisters whose father owned a farm where the lane met the East River at Pearl Street. Christine, Marie and Rachel Vigne came with their parents on the first ship of settlers in 1624. Originally the families split into three groups, up the Hudson River, down on the Delaware and east on the Connecticut. Within two years, the settlements had consolidated on Manhattan and the girls' parents Guillam Vigne and Adrienne Cuvelier had planted the farm. More on Maiden Lane.
END OF TOUR
To return to the start, you can turn left on Maiden Lane and veer left onto Liberty Street when it splits off. Liberty will take you by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a massive Florentine fortress that houses more gold than Fort Knox. Past the Bank, turn left on Nassau Street, which turns into Broad Street as you pass Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Follow Broad Street to Beaver Street and turn right. Beaver will take you back to Bowling Green and the Customshouse.
"The mud smelled like eggs left too long on the boil. Soon the stench would be gone. Blommaert's Vly would drain into the canal. The tide would sweep in and sweep frogs and sewage out, leaving me only the memory."
-- Mevrouw Jackie Lambert remembering how her son loved to play in Blommaert's Vly in The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan.
Broad Street runs along what the Dutch knew as the Ditch. Look at any re-creation image of Manhattan from those days and you will see a huge cleft running south-southeast from where the Stock Exchange sits today at Broad and Wall Streets. Back then, the site of the Stock Exchange was Blommaert's Vly, a bog that drained into the bay via the Ditch. In the 1650s, the town widened and deepened the Ditch and planked its sides, creating a canal. Lanes ran along each side, lined with houses. When the canal was filled in after the English took over, the canal and lanes combined to create a "Broad" street.
NEXT STOP: BRIDGE STREET
Turn right on Broad Street. Go one block and turn right on Bridge Street.