THE NEW YORK CITY OF THE DUTCH.
The region below Wall Street relates almost entirely to the city of the Dutch. New Street, a few steps from Broadway, is particularly redolent of these cradle days. It was the last street opened in this vicinity and although it is now nearly three hundred years old, it is still called "New" Street.
At the beginning of things during the Dutch Occupation, the northern limit of this little hamlet, then on the edge of a wilderness, was fixed at Wall Street; and for half a century the settlement was hemmed in by a wooden wall or palisade, which extended from river to river. That's how the street got its name—Wall Street.
There was first a cattle guard built along this road by felling trees and piling them, roots out, in a row along the path. A few years later the inhabitants were ordered by Stuyvesant to erect a substantial barrier in place of the guard. This answered the same purpose and in addition protected the settlers from the depredations of bears, wolves, foxes and other animals, but principally against Indians and nearby settlers.
The Dutch were continually in danger of a quarrel with the English on account of European politics, and feared an attack at any time. This structure stood until about 1699, when it was torn down. Meanwhile, it had confined the growth of the city to a very small section and retarded an orderly arrangement of streets. That is why the city below Wall Street is so irregular and confusing. Many of the streets follow the old cow paths.
Yet the visitor, with a soul for the past, would do well to begin his pilgrimage in the footsteps of the first settlers. This section contains the earliest pages of New York's history and witnessed the little fur trading post become a hardy pioneer city of almost twenty-five thousand inhabitants, ere the dark days of the Revolution all but encompassed its destruction.
Unlike other historic American cities, New York has preserved few buildings erected prior to the Revolution, a neglect which has since been keenly regretted. Consequently, while there are many interesting locations in the neighborhood below Wall Street, all of the original buildings have disappeared, and the best we can offer the tourist is a tablet placed on the site of some of the most interesting ones, recalling the former building which stood there.
For example, in the corridor of the Customs House will be found a tablet containing the history of this site from its inception as Fort Amsterdam.
With these few explanatory remarks we will now begin our tour through New York, which we hope will enlighten and entertain our visitor. In order to present the various sections consecutively and in the order of their development, we shall start where the Dutch started, and travel uptown, following the march of the city itself and recording its history as we proceed.
Assuming that you are in the hotel district at 42nd Street, we will take a Subway Express downtown, or the Elevated, it doesn't matter which, and get out at Bowling Green Station. Time, 12 minutes.
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