New York City
New York City has a long, interesting history. It is certainly time to describe its history and culture. A lot of people love NYC. I love NYC too. New York City has people of tons of ethnicities, creeds, and other backgrounds. It is truly an international city and one of the world’s largest cities in terms of population. The first human inhabitants of New York City were the Native Americans. One major Native American tribe living in New York City was the Lenape. The Lenape Native Americans grew corn, beans, and squash to supplement their hunting and gathering. Their society is matrilineal. It was also peaceful and well organized. The first European who came into New York City was the Italian explorer Giovanni Da Verrazano. He worked for King Francis I of France. He came into New York Bay at 1524. Esteban Gomez sailed into New York Bay on 1525. The English explorer Henry Hudson would anchor off Manhattan’s shore. He worked for the Dutch. The Lenapes would help the Dutch fur merchant Adiaen Block when his ship (called the Tyger) burned. They even feed Block and his stranded crew. The Dutch West India Company was established in 1621 to trade in the Americas. More Dutch people traveled into New York City. The Dutch called NYC the New Netherlands. The first Europeans came into Brooklyn by 1625. In 1626, the Dutch acquired Manhattan from the Native Americans. The Lenapes wanted to share the land for a season or so while the Europeans believe that the deal is final. In the same year the southern tip of Manhattan is named New Amsterdam. 11 African men are brought into NYC as slaves in 1626. The island of Staten Island was once controlled by the Dutch government. Jonas Bronck buys land from the Native Americans in 1639, which is now the Bronx. Soon, Dutch settlement came to New York on 1629. For a time, the Dutch people gradually controlled New York City from the Native Americans. The Dutch militia massacred 120 Lenapes in 1643 and the Native Americans fight back in the Kleft’s war. 11 African men soon petition for their freedom. The massive buying and selling of human beings (who were Africans and Native Americans) started in New York City during 1646. One Dutch leader in New York City during the 17th century was Peter Stuyvesant. Jewish people arrived to NYC from Brazil since they were fleeing the Inquisition during 1654. One aspect of us as people is that we want religious freedom promoted in the world. By 1662, the principle of religious tolerance was born via the Quaker John Bowne’s case. The British colonists soon controlled the area from the Dutch by 1674. Kings County is named after King Charles II. Queens is named after his queen (or Catherine of Braganza). Richmond County is named for the Duke of Richmond (or the King’s illegitimate son). The Lenape population declined heavily by 1700 because of wars, displacement, and epidemic. Slavery is an abomination and the slave market was found in the old City Hall on the East River. African slaves rebelled and were punished with brutal violence in 1712. Black people rebelled again in 1741.
The Colonial Period.
The colonists rebelled against the imperialist British Empire. Alexander Hamilton was a college student in 1774 when he spoke out against British aggression in New York City. The Sons of Liberty had a huge power base in NYC. Members of the Sons of Liberty harassed British authority in the city. Members of the 13 colonies met in NYC to organize resistance to not only the Stamp Act, but to British occupation. NYC was a strategic area of the activities of the Revolutionary War. George Washington at first had many defeats during the early part of the Revolutionary War. George Washington’s army arrived in New York during 1776. He builds fortifications to protect against British invasion. He also lost the Battle of Brooklyn to a huge number of redcoats. He escapes by night across the East River. He won the Battle of Harlem Heights, which was his first victory of the war. The British Army controlled New York City and made it their base on the continent until late 1783. Loyalist refugees were found there. On 1783, General Washington marches in NYC as the victor and the patriot troops march from northern Manhattan to the Battery. NYC became the state capital in 1784. The New York Manumission Society was created in 1785 to abolish slavery. America’s national capital was once in New York City during the Article of Confederation era and briefly under the United States Constitution. New York City was the place which hosted the inauguration of George Washington as President, the drafting of the Bill of Rights, and the first Supreme Court of America. On 1799, New York State’s Act for the Gradual Emancipation of Negores and Other Slaves is passed. The law freed all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799, but it didn’t immediately end slavery. It only freed certain slaves. On July 4, 1827, the African-American community celebrated final emancipation in the state with a long parade through New York City. Slavery ended in New York gradually, but many New Yorkers were dedicated, heroic abolitionists. The New York Historical society was created in 1804.
The Free School Society or the Public School Society was created in 1806 to educate poor children. Black people could pass down property to their children in 1809. New York City became the nation’s largest city by 1820. New York University is founded in 1831 and Union Square Park opens at the union of Bowery and Broadway in the same year. Brooklyn receives its city charter on 1834. The Great fire of 1835 destroys 674 buildings.
During the antebellum period, New York City was a city where the Underground Railroad flourished. The Underground Railroad was a network of locations in cities and towns of the North and Canada that helped slaves escape slaves states in order for them to be free from tyranny and oppression. A community of free African Americans back during the 19th century lived in the community of Weeksville (in Brooklyn, NYC).
Another 1845 fire destroys 300 buildings. The first issue of the New York Times was established in 1851. As the 1800’s go forward, more immigrants came into New York and Central Park starts. Macy opens in 1858. By 1860, about 1/3 of New York City is Irish and half of the city is foreign-born. When the Civil War starts, we see some New Yorkers joining the Union. Others resisted the draft. The Draft Riots of 1863 involved white racists killing innocent black men, black women, and black children. The draft riots in real life were even worst than what was shown in the film "The Gangs of New York." After the Civil War, the elevated train tracks go up. St. Patrick Cathedral is dedicated on 1879. One of the famous structures of New York City was the Brooklyn Bridge. It took 14 years of construction and it opens on 1883. The opera house called the Metropolitan opens at 39th Street and Broadway. The Statue of Liberty is dedicated on Bedloe’s Island. Bartholdi was involved in its construction. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 as a gift from France to America (in celebrating liberty and freedom). The people of New York voted for the subway system by 1894. The Bronx Zoo opens in 1899. The public library system grows and 65 public library branches are funded by Andrew Carnegie. The tenement system has so many problems that a new tenement house law begins to improve life for the 70 percent of the city living in 83,000 tenements.
From 1900 to 1945, New York City dealt with many radical changes from the Progressive Era, the various reforms, the Harlem Renaissance, immigration (as in 1907, 1,200,000 immigrants would arrive in America. They came mostly from Europe. Ellis Island was one major location where the immigrants arrived at), education, and the two World Wars. New York City’s population by 1900 was 3.4 million people. In 1903, a bronze plaque with Emma Lazarus's stirring words is affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . " There were still fights for workers’ rights and economic justice. The mainstream party bosses and machines wanted the status quo. The city expanded its bridges, traffic, school system, and other infrastructure during the early 20th century.. Public health programs existed and hundreds of new elementary and high schools were built. The political machines wanted massive corporate profits even at the expense of the workers while the reformers wanted changes in the system so workers would be treated equitably. Tammany Hall (whose head was Charles Murphy from 1902-1924) grew since the 1800’s and was supported by middle class ethnics. During the depressions of the 1890s and the 1930’s, the reformers gained key offices in New York City even the mayor’s office. The reformers were diverse. They were made up of mostly middle class men and women. The years from 1895 to 1914 saw the peak of European immigration. Many of them were Catholics, Jewish people, Italians, and Poles. Conflict arose between these immigrants and other residents in NYC. Racism was common against the new immigrants, black people, etc. Many Jewish people suffered the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. The Progressive Era movement promoted free public schooling and other reforms. Catholic parochial schools grew and public schools in general expanded. Controversial industrialists like Rockefeller and Carnegie expanded their finances in New York. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York developed in the early 1900’s. Edward J. Flynn was another political leader of the Bronx back then.
The Harlem Renaissance and Diverse Cultural Growth
Al Smith and Robert F. Wagner supported reform. Jazz grew during the 1920’s. One of the most famous mayors of NYC during this time period was Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. He was a liberal Republican Congressman. He supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. He worked across party lines. He revitalized New York on many cased. He grew public playgrounds, parks, airports, etc. The Harlem Renaissance is a very key part of black culture and New York City history. After 1890, black people started to move into formerly Jewish neighborhood of Harlem on Manhattan’s upper West side. African Americans also traveled into New York City in a high level via the Great Migration. The Great Migration was a massive migration of African Americans from the South into the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast. Black people want jobs, equality, freedom, and justice. So, black people worked and fought for freedom during this period. The rise of Marcus Garvey came about greatly in New York City. He was a nationalist leader who wanted black people to unite in a pan-African fashion, so black people can be liberated from oppression. Civil rights activism grew by New Yorkers like Baptist preachers like Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (who fought for civil rights and contributed a great deal to fight back against racial discrimination in NYC). The Harlem Renaissance in essence was about black males and black females expressing their culture, their lives, and their aspirations without shame. They wanted to show black people and all people their gifts of music, art, dance, theater, literature, and other aspects of human culture. Many famous writers of the Harlem Renaissance included Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, and Zora Neale Hurston. In 1931, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the George Washington Bridge were completed. These events outline the rapid growth of infrastructure which defines a lot of the history of New York City.
The Great Depression hurt people in New York City. Hooversville shacks were in city parks. New York City continued to build the subway, schools, etc. WWII definitely expanded the workforce. During WWII, the Brooklyn Navy Yard increased its production of warships. New York City hosted the headquarters of the United Nations after WWII. By 1952, New York City would officially be the permanent headquarters of the United Nations.
The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement
After WWII, the Cold War dominated New York City politics. White flight caused more issues. Robert Moses guided more construction of transportation system in New York City. During the 1960’s, a gradual economic decay began. The Dodgers and the Giants moved to California. After the Immigration Act of 1965, more Asian Americans immigrated to NYC. Civil rights and black nationalist movement grew in NYC during the 1960’s. Malcolm X lived in New York City for years and he was a strong spokesman for black people and all oppressed people. Malcolm X loved Harlem and Harlem loved Malcolm X. So much of the black freedom movement existed in New York City. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 in New York City. The postwar period saw people (especially white people moving into the suburbs) living in a new, transformative age. Black people and Puerto Ricans fought for their human rights in NYC. John Lindsay was a liberal Republican was mayor from 1965 to 1973. Feminist, anti-Vietnam War, and LGBT rights movements grew in New York City during the 1960’s and during the 1970’s. Industries started to shut down. Teacher and labor strikes continued during the late 1960’s. There was the 1968 nine day sanitation strike. The riots in 1968 came after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, TN.
Stagflation and economic problems were horrible during the 1970’s. In the year of 1971, Joe Frazier would defeat Muhammad Ali in the fight of the Century in Madison Square Garden or MSG. There was the Black out of 1977 and the rise of Mayor Ed Koch. In 1977 and in 1978, the New York Yankees would win the world series. There was the boom and a bust during the 1980’s, and massive economic expansion during the 1990’s. There were massive racial tensions in the 1980’s. The 1980’s in New York City was a period of economic and racial turmoil. Ex-Congressman Allard Lowenstein was assassinated by deranged person named Dennis Sweeney. There was the second New York City Transit strike from April 1-11, 1980. The Beatle John Lennon was murdered in front of his home on December 8, 1980. By January 1, 1982, Ed Koch was sworn into his second term as the city’s 105th mayor. Willie Turks in June 22, 1982 was an African American 34-year old MTA worker who was set upon and killed by a white mob in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. On September 15, 1983, Michael Stewart was beaten into a coma by New York Transit Police officers. Stewart died 13 days later from his injuries at Bellevue Hospital. On November 24, 1985, after a six-month trial, six officers were acquitted on charges stemming from Stewart's death. On October 29, 1984, 66 year old Eleanor Bumpurs is shot and killed by police as they tried to evict her from her Bronx apartment. Bumpurs was mentally ill. This shooting renewed more debate about police brutality and racism. In 1987 officer Stephen Sullivan was acquitted on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide stemming from the shooting.
On December 22, 1984, Bernhard Goetz shoots and kills four unarmed black men on a 2 train on the subway who tried to rob him, generating weeks of headlines and many discussions about crime and vigilantism in the media. Ed Koch still is elected to a third and final term as mayor in a landmark margin on November 5, 1985. He defeated New York City Council President Carol Bellamy. On December 20, 1986, a white mob in Howard Beach, Queens, attacked three African-American men whose car had broken down in the largely white neighborhood. One of the African-American men, Michael Griffith was chased onto Shore Parkway where he is hit and killed by a passing car. The killing prompted several marches through the neighborhood led by Al Sharpton. In April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili was violently raped and beaten while jogging in Central Park. Many young people were falsely accused, convicted, and jailed. In 2002, after the five had completed their sentences, Matias Reyes – a convicted rapist and murderer serving a life sentence for other crimes – confessed to the crime, after which DNA evidence proved the five teens innocent. In August 23, 1989, Yusuf Hawkins, an African-American 16-year-old student is set upon and murdered by a white mob in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn in one of the city's worst-ever racial attacks. The city of New York elected David Dinkins as New York City’s first African American mayor in December 29, 1989. He was inaugurated by January 1, 1990. He was once the Manhattan Borough President. Koch was defeated by David Dinkins in 1989. The massive decline in the crime rate of New York City began under Dinkins. It continued under the controversial mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.
New York City in the 21st Century
In the 21st century, we face the age of terrorism and fights against economic inequality. More immigrants are coming into New York City. The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 marked a new era. I remember the attacks like they were yesterday. Extremists destroyed the Twin Towers forever. Also, the Pentagon was struck including Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania as well. Almost 3,000 innocent human beings died via the attacks on 9/11. During that time, heroic people saved lives, helped victims, and did other courageous actions. The actions of those heroes should always be respected and honored. The resiliency of the people of New York City after that horrendous events are inspiring and incredible.
Innocent human lives were killed by terrorists and people became more unified (in solidarity and unfortunately Islamophobia grew too). Today, there is a lower crime rate than many decades ago. Under Michael Bloomberg as mayor, there has been an increase of public-private sector building projects. Public-private partnerships were part of Bloomberg’s governing style. After Bloomberg, New Yorkers wanted to vote for a more progressive candidate. Bill DeBlasio became mayor and promised a more progressive New York City. Yet, the more things change, the more that they stay the same. DeBlasio has been hit with housing issues and issues of police brutality. The death of Eric Garner galvanized people in NYC to fight police terror. Also, DeBlasio is dealing with income inequality and racial profiling. DeBlasio has shown a moderate approach of genuflecting to the NYPD while talking about Eric Garner. He has used the NYPD to suppress many of the protesters’ right of demonstration. DeBlasio’s legacy is uncertain. He may be a strong progressive or just a centrist. The choice is his. Regardless, we will continue to stand up for truth. To this very day, New York City is home to many immigrants. Its cultural strength and inspirational people make New York City stronger.