Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New York – A City Steeped in History

New York or New Amsterdam to give its original name has a history dating back to 1624, when Dutch colonists first sailed into what is the world’s largest natural harbor. This city has always been a draw for people from around the world looking to make a new life, and the 19th and 20th century saw millions of immigrants arrive, take their place and play their role in creating America’s largest city.


New York is rightfully proud of its exciting and illustrious history, and in this city it’s easy to find a museum or historic location in which to explore the Big Apple’s past.

The city’s first museum

A city with this much history deserves a dedicated museum and that’s exactly what the New York Historical Society is, founded in 1804. This was the city’s first museum and has held a number of ground-breaking extensive exhibits such as the history of slavery in New York, as well as being home to one of the oldest libraries in America. Exhibitions, documents and artifacts explore events such as the Civil War and the New York City Draft Riots, as well historical figures including President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave but became a free man in New York. This museum is probably one of the best resources in which to explore the city’s history right up until present day and many of the exhibitions can be viewed online.

A historic building

The Lower East Side is today popularly associated with the city’s arts scene; and writers, musicians and artists have been drawn to this neighborhood mainly due to the previously inexpensive rental accommodation. However, if you want to walk in the footsteps of the 20 million immigrants who lived in the 97 Orchard Street building between 1863 and 1935, then the Lower East Side Tenement is the place to go. Restoration has turned this building into a time capsule allowing visitors to view how immigrants lived over 150 years ago when they first arrived in the city. Visitors can also visit a recreated family run store as well as obtain information from actors who portray residents of this time period.

Spot the history

New York today is of course vastly different from its first humble beginnings, but you can walk around this city and discover its history in the iconic buildings and landmarks. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge and you’ll be walking on 130 years of history, or take a trip to Ellis Island where millions of immigrants were processed before either being permitted or denied access to the city. The Statue of Liberty, which sits on Liberty Island, has been standing as a symbol of freedom since 1886 and visitors can climb to Lady Liberty’s crown to view the waterfront area. Once the tallest building in New York, and arguably it’s most famous, the Empire State Building has been a cultural icon for almost 75 years – if you get the chance to visit, it will only take around two minutes to travel to the 86th floor observation deck.

New York is undoubtedly one of the most incredible cities and this may be why it’s sometimes regarded as the capital of the world. It’s an ever-changing metropolis with each generation building on the last, leaving their mark and shaping this great city’s history.

Image by Justin in SD used under the Creative Commons license

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