400 years since Hudson landed in Manhattan

January 28, 2009 5:32:50 PM PST
If a Dutch ship hadn't veered off course and landed in New York Harbor four centuries ago, New York City might be very different today. From its Dutch roots come names like Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Greenwich Village and Staten Island - not to mention the colors in its orange, white and blue flag.

Now, New York City is embracing its Dutch heritage with a yearlong celebration marking the anniversary of when Henry Hudson is believed to have landed in Manhattan, around September 1609.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen on Wednesday in Battery Park, declaring that all New Yorkers are a little bit Dutch because of Hudson's discovery.

"We are a relatively young city, but we really do have a very deep history, and it can be traced back to Hudson's arrival, and the small settlement that sprang up in its wake," Bloomberg said.

Hudson, an English explorer, arrived aboard the Dutch vessel "Half Moon" on a trip sponsored by the Dutch East India Company. He was seeking passage to Asia, but instead stumbled upon what is now Manhattan.

His voyage soon attracted Dutch traders to the island, who established New Amsterdam and the New Netherland colony.

Hudson's accidental discovery "planted the seeds of democracy, entrepreneurial spirit, freedom of expression and freedom of religion that we know now as New York, the unofficial capital of the world," Cohen said.

New York is planning a number of events to celebrate its Dutch connection. Those include a special exhibit of tulips at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and an exhibit of art from Amsterdam at the Museum of Modern Art.

And in the summer, a fleet of old-fashioned ships will retrace Hudson's trip from New York Harbor up the river to Albany.

The Netherlands government also unveiled designs on Wednesday for a pavilion it is building in the Battery as a gift to New York City. The public space, set to go up by the end of 2009, will serve as a tribute to the connection between the Dutch and New York City, officials said.


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