Lower Manhattan

Manhattan History

The name Manhattan (“hilly island” or possibly “place of intoxication”) is from the Algonquian languages of the earliest known inhabitants of the area. Legend has it that the island was purchased from the natives for $24 in beads and other such trinkets. The first European discovery of Manhattan is generally credited to English explorer Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch, who first entered Upper New York Bay on September 11, 1609, and sailing up the lower Hudson River, anchored off the tip of northern Manhattan that night. However, the earlier Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano explored New York harbor in 1524, and a few months later so did the Portuguese Estevan Gomez; the latter also recognized the Hudson River (calling it the Rio de San Antonio), and both, in all likelihood, saw Manhattan island while in New York Harbor.

The island was settled by the Dutch in 1624.

New York County is named in honor of the Duke of York, later to become the Catholic James II of England, after whom the City and State of New York were also named. New York County was an original county of New York State, one of twelve created in 1683. At the time of creation of New York County, it was coextensive with Manhattan Island, and occupied the same area which it occupies today. In 1873, the western portion of the present Bronx County was transferred to New York County, and in 1895 the remainder of the present Bronx County was transferred to New York County. In 1898, when New York City was constituted as five boroughs, the separate boroughs of Manhattan and of the Bronx were formed, though both remained within the single County of New York. In 1914, those parts of the then New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County were constituted the new Bronx County, and New York County was reduced again to its present boundaries.

From the 1960s onwards Manhattan suffered from urban flight as the middle-class fled to the outer boroughs and suburbs due to an increase in crime. However, as with many other American cities, there was an increase in population growth in the latter part of the century due to a renewed interest in the urban lifestyle, a trend which began in the 1990s and has continued to present day. It was thought that the September 11, 2001 attacks would initiate a new exodus from the City due to a fear of terrorism, but this has not come to pass.