From New Amsterdam to the Big Apple — Little-Known Facts about New York City
Do you know who first called New York “The Big Apple” and why?
Did you know that New York was declared a Dutch colony by an Englishman?
Discover these and other little-known facts about the vibrant, fast-paced “city that never sleeps”.
How New York Became a Dutch Colony
New York was already a popular place to live when the first European explorers arrived in the sixteenth century. It was populated by thousands of people from the Iroquois, Algonquian, and Lenape tribes.
New York and its surrounding area was declared the Dutch colony of New Netherland in 1609 by Henry Hudson, who was actually English but his voyage of exploration was funded by the Dutch East India Company.
In 1626, Dutch settlers bought the island of Manhattan from the Lenape tribe for 60 guilders. This would be equal to paying around $1,000 today.
From New Amsterdam to New York
In 1643, New York City was called New Amsterdam. Its 500 inhabitants spoke a total of 18 different languages. Today, it is still a culturally and linguistically diverse city with around 800 languages being spoken by 8.4 million residents.
On September 8 1664, New Amsterdam was renamed New York, after it was captured by the English.
The First Capital City
New York was the first capital city of the United States for a short time after the ratification of the Constitution. George Washington’s inauguration as the first US president took place in New York on April 30 1789.
The Big Apple
New York’s nickname of “The Big Apple” was first used in 1921 by John Joseph Fitzgerald, a horse racing reporter. In New Orleans, he had heard stable hands describing New York’s racetracks as “the big apple,” meaning that they offered jockeys their best chance of success.
The Melting Pot
More than four centuries after it was first inhabited by Europeans, New York now has a unique character as a “melting pot” of people from a wide variety of different cultures living side-by-side.