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New York History

In 1626, the first building was established in Manhattan. It was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. While missionary zeal conquered much of the New World, “New Amsterdam,” as this city was originally called was always (and continues to be) about money. It’s no surprise the city is one of the world’s great banking and trading capitals (Wall Street, anyone?). And that for most of the twentieth century, there were more millionaires per square mile in Manhattan than anywhere on earth. But New York’s history isn’t entirely about making millions. The Dutch sold the land to the Native American tribe, the Lenape, for 60 gilders (which is about $1,000 today). The city soon grew in importance and by the American Revolution in 1776, it was the obvious choice for the first capital of the new nation. By 1790, New York surpassed Philadelphia as the most populous city in the United States. By the end of the next century, the city would be flooded by immigrants (mostly from Europe), escaping despair and hoping for a new start, an “American dream.” At this time Brooklyn—then a separate city—would be consolidated into New York City. Throughout the 20th century, the city attracted the best and brightest. Everyone who was anyone—artists, musicians, scholars, intellectuals, scientists, writers—felt a yen to spend time in New York City, like it was essential for one’s education … something that still holds true today. Even the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 did not put an end to this artistic and intellectual pull to New York City. And with crime rates continuing to drop and the city becoming more pedestrian friendly, it’s likely the lure of New York will not end anytime soon.