Governors Island

New York City was not where the first Europeans settled in the area. They bypassed it. Maybe they knew something?

The reality is that the area was heavily populated by Native Americans. Oyster beds in the harbor, long since destroyed, were bountiful and helped sustain a large number of inhabitants.

While the English settled Jamestown in 1607 and Plymouth in 1620, the Dutch established a trading post, Fort Orange, in the vicinity of Albany in 1614 bypassing the New York City area. Fort Orange was five miles south of where the Mohawk joins the Hudson River.

Ten years later, in May, 1624, 30 families landed at Governor’s Island in New York harbor. This was the beginning of New Amsterdam.

Some eventually moved to Manhattan Island.

They chose the island first because they were greatly outnumbered by Native Americans in the area, and it wasn’t encroaching on their land as much and more easily defended.

The original island was much smaller than the present one, given there have been lots of landfill over the years, much like the shoreline of Manhattan.

Governors Island was called Paggank by the native Lenape, translated at Nut Island. Perhaps they had an idea of who would be living in the city?

Excerpted from: New York City Little Black Book 1: Secrets, History, and Trivia of the World’s Greatest City.