New York History Timeline

The origins and colonial period
1525   Giovanni da Verrazano – the first European to see Manhattan
– Giovanni da Verrazano was an Italian explorer in the service of King Francis I of France.
He sailed into New York Harbor in 1524 in search of the Northwest Passage and was the first European to see Manhattan. Even though he never set foot on land due to severe weather, he claimed it for France.
– King Francis was so busy fighting Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and changing alliances with or against Henry the VIII, that he never followed through on the discovery. Verrazano himself finished his explorations on a sad note, being eaten by locals in the Lesser Antilles, while trying to negotiate another conquest for France. 
1609  Henry Hudson – the first European to set foot in Manhattan
– Henry Hudson, an English explorer on the employ of the Dutch East India Company, was the first European to set foot in Manhattan.
In search for India, he sailed up the Hudson (North River) as far as Albany. Having convinced himself that this particular body of water would take him to neither India nor China, he promptly decided to bring back material goods, which would make his trip worthwhile for his employer.
– Local beavers fit the bill with their lavish beaver tails. Hudson claimed the land for Holland; the Dutch East India Company was renamed to be the Dutch West India Company, and started trading in fur, finally providing Russia with healthy competition on the European market.
1624   Permanent colony of New Netherland is established
– Permanent colony is established by the newly formed Dutch West India Company and named New Netherland.
– The first settlers were a mere 30 families (110 people). They were mostly Walloons, French-speaking Protestants, and refugees from Spanish Netherlands who had fled to Holland from Holy Inquisition.
– They had settled on Nut (now Governor’s) Island and started a fur trade with local Indians.
– The island of Manhattan at the time was densely populated with geese, ducks, foxes, bears, turkeys, and, of course, beavers. 
1625   New Amsterdam is born
– New Amsterdam was born when Peter Minuit took over as the first director general of the newly established colony.
​- He renamed it New Amsterdam and moved it to the island of Manhattan. Feeling ‘generous, he arranged the purchase of Manhattan Island from the Algonquian Indians, for beads, trinkets, cloth, axes and other items valued at approximately $24. This story would go down in history as the best real estate deal ever, if only it were true. In reality, American Indians did not use the European idea of land ownership, and therefore couldn’t sell the land. Besides, there were various tribes hunting on the island of Manhattan, and ‘purchasing’ it from one of them would not have made it legitimate.
– Nevertheless, the colonists, being blissfully unaware of that fact, relocated to their new home at the southern tip of Manhattan.
– BTW, Queens was settled by the Dutch in 1635. Brooklyn – in 1654.
– Bronx was bought by the Dutch West India Company in 1639. Later it was purchased by Danish immigrant Jonas Bronsk. Alas, the name….
1647  Peter Stuyvesant, the first governor of New Amsterdam
– Peter Stuyvesant, the first governor of New Amsterdam, was appointed to rule the colony by the Dutch West India Company with the noble purpose of making it profitable. A stern, even mean ruler, Stuyvesant was referred to as ‘peg leg Peter’. Indeed, one of his legs was made out wood. Before being appointed to New Amsterdam, he served as a soldier for Dutch West India Company and rose through the ranks to become governor of Curacao. After losing his leg in a battle he went back to Holland until he was appointed governor of New Amsterdam.
– Stuyvesant was a stern administrator; he instituted night curfews for pubs, imposed punishments for public rowdiness, outlawed fighting and sex with Indians, created schools primarily to keep youth off the streets, and forbade common law marriages.
– Stuyvesant’s estate, aka Bouwerie, was located between 5th and 20th Street, east of 4th Ave. Hence, the name Bowery.
1653  New Amsterdam becomes a city
– The colony New Amsterdam incorporates as a city in 1653 with great pomp and parade down Broadway. The reason?  Order and taxes!
– Peter Stuyvesant was sent to the new world to establish a proper city government. That way, laws would be enforced and taxes would be collected. To ensure that the new city was well protected from the Indians, wild animals, and, most importantly, the English, Stuyvesant builds a wall from the East River to Hudson River (along what is now, therefore, called Wall street).
– The main reason for this was that England was, at the time, at war with Holland. By the way, England was going through an unusually rough patch in its history: Oliver Cromwell beheaded King Charles I and seized power (1651).
 1654 First Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam
– The first Jewish settlers arrived to New Amsterdam in the summer of 1654. The very first Jew arrives from Holland, but in a month a small community of 27 joins him. These people had quite a journey! ​
– Their ancestors were expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 when Ferdinand and Isabella cleansed their realm of Jews and Muslims in a Christian frenzy. The expelled Jews took refuge in Holland, and then relocated to Brazil, which was then partly Dutch. In 1654 Brazil fell to Portuguese.
– The story repeated itself, as the descendants of the Jews that fled Spain and Portugal had to flee once more! It was back to Amsterdam again. 15 ships made it safely to Holland. One of the ships, which was carrying 27 Jews, was captured by Spanish pirates. They were rescued by a French privateer, but since they didn’t have enough to pay for the passage to Holland, they were taken to closer destination of New Amsterdam, instead.
– Stuyvesant hated the idea. He didn’t want any Jews to “infest” the colony. However, Dutch West India Company insisted that since the Jews held shares in the company and had suffered a loss in the capture of Brazil, they should be allowed to stay.
– The conditions of their new residence was that they had to take care of their own poor and the only trade they were permitted was slaughtering livestock.
– Soon more Jews came from Curacao, then from Holland…
1658  Harlem established by the settlers
Harlem was named after Dutch city of Haarlem which is located as far from Amsterdam as Harlem from New Amsterdam.
Within a few years Harlem had about 30 families of ex-Frenchmen, Walloons, Danes, Swedes, German and Dutchmen.
1664  New Amsterdam becomes New York
– To the horror of Governor Stuyvesant, the English took New Amsterdam without any military action.
– The English send a letter to Stuyvesant guaranteeing undisturbed rights to all the citizens if the town surrenders peacefully. Even though Stuyvesant hid this letter, the word of it got out. Citizens of New Amsterdam didn’t want to fight, and they didn’t like their governor that much. They surrendered happily. ​
– The colony was renamed New York in honor of Duke of York, the future King James II, the brother of Charles II, the King of England. Stuyvesant went back to the old country, but later returned to New York where he spent his old age and was buried.  The last of his descendants died in New York in the 20th century.
1682 New York is divided into counties
New York is divided into the counties of

– New York (Manhattan),
– Kings (Brooklyn),
– Staten Island (Richmond) and
– Queens.
1693 The Battery gets its name.  The Church of England becomes the official religion.
– During French/British wars for the control of Canada, a battery of cannons – 94 in total – were mounted on the lower tip of the island to protect the entrance to the Hudson River from the French. The cannons were never fired, but the name stuck.
– The Church of England becomes the official religion of the colony.
– The cosmopolitan population of New York consists of:
           – 1754 Dutch Reformed Church families,
           – 1365 were Dissenters (Protestants) families,
           – 260 Huguenot families,
           – 90 Anglican families,
           – 20 Jewish families
           – 6 CatholicsPracticing Catholics and Jesuits were banned from New York.
1697 Trinity Church, the first Anglican Church in the city, is built
– His majesty King William III granted the Trinity Church a royal charter for the price of 1 peppercorn a year so that the Trinity could function as the virtual Church of England in the British colony of New York.
– It was the tallest structure in the city – ships could see its spire from the sea. A lot of people contributed to its construction, including the infamous captain-turned-privateer-turned-pirate, William Kidd.
– In 1705 Queen Ann granted Trinity Church 2 parcels of land for farming, stretching from Fulton Street to Hudson River. That sealed Trinity’s fate as one of the wealthiest churches in the world. Later, Trinity was to become a landlord to rival ‘the Landlord’ of New York – John Jacob Astor.
– The first Trinity building perished in the Great Fire of 1776 during American Revolution.
1733  The Bowling Green is the first city park.
Bowling Green had been a cattle market, parade ground, and a field for an early Dutch version of bowling before it became the first city park.  In 1733, the Common Council leased a portion of the parade grounds to prominent neighboring landlords for a peppercorn a year, upon their promise to create a park that would be “the delight of the Inhabitants of the City” and would add to its “Beauty and Ornament”
1735  Peter Zenger’s trial.  Birth of free press
– Peter Zenger, publisher of one of the early New York papers, accurately but harshly criticized the corrupt governor of New York.
– At the time any critique of any British official was considered ‘seditious libel’ and was punishable by law. Peter Zenger was put on trial where he was brilliantly defended by Andrew Hamilton, who argued that if it’s true, it’s not libel. Zenger was found not guilty. Press was granted the right to freely report truth.
  1754    King’s College is chartered
– Kings College, the 6th college in colonies, was chartered by King George II.
It was located on Broadway near Church Street, on the land belonging to the Trinity Church.
– Kings College was to become one of the highest regarded universities in the world, known today as Columbia University.
american revolution and the growing pains (1765 – 1865)
1765   Stamp Act is passed by British Parliament and King George III
– British Parliament (and King George III) passes the Stamp Act, which was a tax on all legal documents. The tax was supposed to fund the army of 10,000 Red Coats stationed in the colonies.
– A prelude to organized colonial opposition to British rule, the Stamp Act Congress, with representatives from nine of the thirteen colonies, was held in New York City in 1765.

– It was decided that British goods would be boycotted until the Stamp Act was repealed. “BETTER TO WEAR HOMESPUN COAT THEN LOSE OUR LIBERTY”. It was, in fact, repealed, but substituted by other taxes on English goods. Since the British economy suffered, those taxes were also lifted, except for the tax on tea.
– The Stamp Act Congress which took place in New York resulted in the Declaration of Rights and Grievances – “no taxation without representation”.
1776 Declaration of Independence is adopted
– On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that the thirteen American colonies, already at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as 13 newly independent sovereign states, and not a part of the British Empire.  The formal declaration, which came to be known as the Declaration of Independence, is drafted in Philadelphia by Thomas Jefferson.
– Thousands of menacing British troops on ships were already amassing in the New York harbor in order to suppress the revolt. On July 9th, George Washington reads the newly written Declaration of Independence to his troops. After hearing the Declaration, the inspired crowds rush down Broadway to Bowling Green and pull down the equestrian statue of King George. The American Revolution has started; the lead from the king’s statue is to be used to make musket balls to fight the king’s soldiers.
– By 1776, the population of New York had reached 20,000, and the city extended for about a mile.
1775-1783 American Revolutionary War
– In order to put down the rebellion, King George III puts together an army of 32,000 soldiers – the largest force the British had ever sent outside of Europe.
– The American army is headed by General Washington; the English,  much superior army and navy, is led by the brothers Howe.
– General Howe, the commander of British forces, focuses on capturing New York City. Howe’s forces arrive at Staten Island on June 30, 1776, and capture it without resistance.
– In the Battle of Brooklyn, the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Army lead by Washington is badly defeated. Washington realizes that his army has no chance against the British on the battlefield, and decides that it’s more important to save the rest of his army rather than try to defend Manhattan.
– During the night Washington secretly evacuates the entire army across the East River to Manhattan without loss of a single life. The army retreats all the way north, giving up New York to the British who occupy all of present day New York until the end of the war.
– It is not clear if it was done by the patriots or by accident, but in September 1776 Manhattan suffered a devastating fire which burned down almost quarter of the city.
1783  End of Revolutionary war
​​- After the Continental Army, with help from the French and the Dutch, defeats the British, England is forced to recognize the independence of the 13 colonies. American War for Independence ends with the Peace Treaty of 1783, also known as The Paris Peace Treaty.
– After 7 years of war, George Washington returns to New York, triumphantly leading the Continental Army through the city.
– He bids farewell to the troops in Fraunces Tavern, declares himself a private citizen and leaves the city for Mount Vernon.
– Washington had the wisdom to give up power when he could have been crowned a king. His intention was never again to serve in public life. This one act, without precedent in modern history, made him an international hero.
1785 NYC becomes the first capital of new nation from 1785 to 1790
​​-In 1785, the assembly of the Congress of the Confederation made New York the national capital. New York remains the capital for 5 years. 

​-The Constitution of the United States went into effect in 1789 which means that New York was the capital of the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation, and the first  of the US under the Constitution of the United States.
1789 George Washington elected president
– George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, is unanimously elected the first president of the United States.
– The Congress sends a word to George Washington that he had unanimously won the presidency. On April 30, he comes across the Hudson River in a specially built and decorated barge.
– The inaugural ceremony is performed on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street to the cheers of a large crowd. The president then retires indoors to read Congress his inaugural address, a quiet speech in which he spoke of “the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
– In 1792, George Washington was unanimously reelected, but four years later refused a third term.
1790 The capital moves to Philadelphia
– New York was a capital of United States from 1785 to 1790. In 1790 capital is temporarily moved to Philadelphia.
– Southerners, Thomas Jefferson among them, insisted that Nation’s Capital should be built a new and should be located on Potomac.
1807 Fulton launches his steamboat.  Washington Irving is publishing.
– By the turn of 19th century, New York becomes the largest city in the nation, its population reaching 100,000.
– The first functioning steamboat, designed by Robert Fulton, starts out from South Street Sea Port and goes all the way to Albany, covering 150 miles distance at the record speed of 5 miles an hour!  She was described as “a monster, moving on the waters, defying wind and tide, and breathing flames and smoke.”
– Robert Fulton, an artist turned inventor, did not invent the steam engine, but he was the first to put it to practical use. Fulton’s partner was Chancellor Livingston, one of the founding fathers; Fulton’s first steamboat was called Clermont, after Livingston’s estate.
– What started as a breathtaking experiment turned into passenger steamboats transport service running on regular schedule up and down North River.
– In 1807 Washington Irving starts publishing satirical essays poking fun at New Yorkers.  There was an old English legend about King John who wanted to build a castle in the village of Gotham.  In 13th Century England, any road the king travelled on had to be made a public highway, and the people of Gotham did not want a public highway through their village. They decided to pretend to be mad, to scare the king away. ​Coined by Washington Irving, Gotham, a city of mad people, became New York City’s nickname.
– Washington Irving was quite surprised of how little New Yorkers knew about their history. He wrote satirical ‘History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty’. He pretended it was written by the antiquarian Diedrich Knickerbocker. Since then native New Yorkers are referred to as Knickerbockers.
  1811     City grid is laid
​- In the beginning of 19th century most of New York’s population resided below present Civic Center area; Greenwich Village was still a bucolic rural place.
– In anticipation of city’s growth, the Commissioners created a grid plan which up to now defines Manhattan’s topography. Described by the commission as a blend “beauty, order and convenience,” the grid was adopted in 1811 to facilitate the sale and development of land north of 14th Street to Washington Heights.
– According to the plan, the city is laid out in a series of equal blocks set 200 feet apart, 2,000 blocks altogether. 12 Avenues ran from South to North, streets – from East to West. Street numbers increase towards North, Avenue numbers increase towards West.
– There are 20 street blocks per mile or 4 Avenue blocks per mile.
– 5th Avenue divides Manhattan into East Side and West Side.
1812  The War of 1812.  City Hall is built
 ​​The War of 1812: At the outset of the 19th century, Great Britain was locked in a long and bitter conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. In an attempt to cut off supplies from reaching the enemy, both sides attempted to block the United States from trading with the other.
– The Royal Navy also outraged Americans by its practice of impressment, or kidnapping seamen from U.S. merchant vessels and forcing them to serve on behalf of the British.
– In the War of 1812, the United States took on the greatest naval power in the world, Great Britain. The United States suffered many costly defeats at the hands of British, Canadian and Native American troops over the course of the War of 1812, including the capture and burning of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., in August 1814.
– Nonetheless, American troops were able to repulse British invasions in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans. Many celebrated the War of 1812 as a “second war of independence,” beginning an era of partisan agreement and national pride.

City Hall:

– New York City Hall, seat of the government of New York City, is the oldest City Hall in the United States that still houses its original governmental functions. This is where the office of the Mayor of New York City and the chambers of the New York City Council are located.​
– The building’s front facade was clad in white marble, while the back was left with the old boring sandstone.  That was done in order to cut construction costs, since, as it was believed back then, the city would never grow so big that the back of the building would be visible.
1822  Yellow fever epidemic. 
– By 1820s, New York had become the largest city in the nation and the first city in the U.S. to surpass 100,000 people in population. That, along with the poor water supply, caused constant outbreaks of yellow fever.
– 1822 marked the last such outbreak in lower Manhattan.
– In June 1822 a case of yellow fever broke out on Lumber Street, near the Battery. As the situation began rapidly deteriorating, the city declared anything below City Hall an infested district and put up a barricade along Chambers Street. Lower Manhattan became deserted as people fled northward to anywhere the air was considered more wholesome.
– One of the favorite destinations was a village located to the North of New York called Greenwich.
– By the time the epidemic ended in the fall of 1822, 388 New Yorkers had died.
When things returned to normal, a lot of people decided to stay in Greenwich Village and settle. The causes of Yellow Fever remained a mystery well into the next century. ​
1825  The Erie Canal opens.
– In the beginning of the 19th century New York is the largest city in the nation; after Erie Canal is constructed it becomes a major economic center.
– The Erie Canal was the longest canal in the world built in the shortest time. It connected Hudson River (through Mohawk River) to the Great Lakes, making New York City “the mouth of the continent”. After Erie Canal was constructed New York experienced its first economic boom.
– Because of the Erie Canal, New York City finds itself in position to control half of nation’s imports and at least 1/3 of its exports.
– By 1850 ,the city’s population reached 1/2 million, quadrupling the population from 1820s.
Most of the new immigrants in the first half of the 19th century arrived from Germany and Ireland. 
1848   John Jacob Astor dies.
​​John Jacob Astor died the richest man in the nation, having amassed a fortune of $20 million.Astor arrived from Germany at the end of 18th century and started out as a humble fur trader.  In 1807, the US government lead by Thomas Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act according to which American ports were closed to foreign trade.  No ships could go either in or out. Astor found a way around the embargo and made a small fortune trading with China; he was also lending money to the government at huge rates. He went on to invest in real estate which made him enormously wealthy. Being nicknamed the “landlord of New York”, he owned most of the property where new immigrants settled.

Admittedly his only regret was that as much real estate as he had owned, he didn’t buy even more!
1849   Astor Place Riots.
The mid-19th century featured two major acts of civil disobedience. One of them took place at the Astor Place Opera House. The bloody riot appeared to have been sparked by the theater performance.

The rivalry between the British Shakespearean actor Macready and his American counterpart Forrest had started years earlier. Macready had toured America, and Forrest essentially followed him, performing the same roles in different theaters and each man was revered by a contingent of energetic supporters.

The venue for Macready’s performance, the Astor Opera House, had been designated as a theater for the upper class.  The controversy between the two actors became symbolic of a divide in American society between the upper class New Yorkers, who identified with the British gentleman Macready, and the lower class New Yorkers, who supported the American Forrest.

When the rioting crowd was throwing stones at members of the Seventh Regiment and receiving bullets in return, there was more happening below the surface than just a disagreement over who best could perform the role of Macbeth.On the day of the riot, preparations were made on both sides. The opera house where Macready was to perform was fortified, its windows barricaded. Scores of policemen were stationed inside, and the audience was screened when entering the building.As Macready took the stage inside, trouble began in the street. A crowd of about 20,000 attacked the opera house, and police retaliated with clubs.

The riot was the worst theater riot in history. When it was all over, 30 people were left dead and 150 wounded.
1850  Boss Tweed elected alderman. Mid-19th century New York.
– By the mid-19th century, New York becomes the second largest port in the world after London.
– By the mid-18 hundreds there were 10,000 Jews in New York, but very little anti-Semitism, as the community stuck to themselves.
– Manhattan was solidly built up to 34th Street. Broadway was paved up to Chambers Street.
“Boss” Tweed
– William Marcy “Boss” Tweed was leader of New York City’s corrupt Tammany Hall political organization during the 1860s and early 1870s. Tweed became a powerful figure in Tammany Hall–New York City’s Democratic political machine–in the late 1850s. By the mid-1860s, he had risen to the top position in the organization and formed the “Tweed Ring,” which openly bought votes, encouraged judicial corruption, extracted millions from city contracts, and dominated New York City politics.
1853    World fair.
In 1853 New York hosted the first World Fair event in America. It was called the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations.  To house the exhibition, Crystal Palace was built in what is now Bryant Park.

The Crystal Palace opened in 1853 and was packed with all the marvels that science, art and industry from around the world could offer. Thousands poured through the wide doors to view sculpture, paintings machinery and inventions from all points of Europe and America New York and the young country, not yet a century old, had held its own with the European capitals.

At the New York Crystal Palace, Elisha Otis demonstrated his newly invented elevator. He amazed a crowd when he ordered the only rope holding the platform on which he was standing cut. The rope was severed by an axeman, and the platform fell only a few inches before coming to a halt. After the World’s Fair, Otis received continuous orders for elevators, doubling each year.

Steinway demonstrated his piano in 1855 at the New York Crystal Palace just two years after the company’s foundation.​​

Sadly, the New York Crystal Palace itself was destroyed by fire in 1858. The fire began in a lumber room on the side adjacent to 42nd Street. Within fifteen minutes its dome fell and in twenty-five minutes the entire structure had burned to the ground. No lives were lost but the loss of property amounted to more than $350,000. This included the building, valued at $125,000, and exhibits and valuable statuary remaining from the World’s Fair.
1854  Academy of Music opens.
​​The Academy of Music was a New York City opera house, located at East 14th Street and Irving Place in Manhattan.  The 4,000-seat hall opened in 1854. A New York Times review declared it to be an acoustical “triumph”, but “In every other aspect … a decided failure,” complaining about the architecture, interior design and the closeness of the seating. The old moneyed families like Belmonts, Beekmans, Stuyvesants, etc. led by none other than Mrs. Astor herself  enjoyed their opera in the Academy of Music. The Academy’s opera season became the center of social life for New York’s elite, with the oldest and most prominent families owning seats in the theater’s boxes.

Part of the enjoyment for the elites was the ability to deny entrance to the  ‘nouveau riches’. This group of ‘new moneyed’ newcomers included Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan, and Gould. Famously William Henry Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in the world, offered $30,000 for an opera box for the 1880-81 season, and was refused! Nouveau riches, with Alva Vanderbilt at the helm of the operation, promptly decided to build a new opera house, the Metropolitan, which opened with a great fan-fare on Broadway and 39th Street and became an instant success.

The Academy of Music couldn’t compete with the Metropolitan and ceased presenting opera in 1886, turning instead to vaudeville. It was finally demolished in 1926.
1857  Central Park is created.
Central Park, the green wonder of New York, was the first designed urban park in the United States.

The New York grid of 1811 didn’t provide for any open park space. By the middle of 19th Century, the population of New York was increasing with dizzying speed, and the need for a city park became apparent.

A competition for the best design for Central Park was won by a team, made up of a British architect, Calvert Vaux and a park designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. Their entry, entered anonymously under the name Greensward, was the last of 34 designs to reach the judges and it was awarded first place.

Olmsted envisioned the park as idyllic, naturalistic place for all the people, poor and reach, not depending on their social status.

The most influential innovations in the Central Park design were the “separate circulation” systems for pedestrians, horseback riders, and pleasure vehicles. The “crosstown” commercial traffic was entirely concealed in sunken roadways, screened with densely planted shrub belts so as to maintain a rustic ambiance.

The Greensward plan called for some 36 bridges, all designed by Vaux, neither two are alike.
Central Park is 2.5 miles long and 0.5 mile wide, it could fit the Principality of Monaco almost twice!
1859  Cooper Union opens.
​Peter Cooper, self-made millionaire and self-taught inventor, opens a college where world-class education in art, architecture and engineering is offered free of charge.

According to Cooper’s central idea, one should be able to receive education regardless of social status, wealth, gender or color, Peter Cooper made his school free for the working classes.
The school was open for women as well as men, and there was no color bar at Cooper Union.
Cooper demanded only a willingness to learn and a commitment to excellence.

Peter Cooper wanted his school to play a role in the political and cultural life of the country. In the basement of the Foundation Building he established the largest secular meeting room in New York City. It seated 900, and soon after it was opened, and it made history.  Abraham Lincoln, yet unannounced candidate for president of the United States, and a virtual unknown in New York, was invited to speak there by the Young Men’s Republican Union.

​In the Cooper Union’s meeting room Lincoln gave a speech which propelled him to presidency and defined the country the way it is now.
1861  Civil War starts.
In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (“the Confederacy”); the other 25 states supported the federal government (“the Union”). ​

After four years of warfare, mostly within the Southern states, the North won, the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation. ​​
1863  Draft Riots.
​During the Civil War Lincoln needed to draft 300,000 men from NYC. His draft policy made it possible to get out of the commitment by paying $300, which meant that the wealthy could buy their way out of draft and only the poor had to go to the front.​

This caused one of the worst acts of civil disobedience, known as the Draft riots of 1863, which lasted for 3 days and claimed the lives of over 100 people.
1865  Civil War ends, Lincoln assassinated.
As the Civil war ends on April 9, New York City bursts out in celebrations.

However, just a few days later, it plunges into mourning. On April 11, 1865 President Lincoln, while attending a theater performance in Washington DC, is assassinated by well-known actor and a Confederate spy John Wilkes Booth. President Lincoln’s funeral cortege arrives to New York on the way to the president’s final resting place in Illinois in April 24, and about half a million mourners gather to mourn and show their sorrow.
1867   The first elevated railway in New York City opened
By 1870 the population of New York City reached 1,000,000; new means of transportation became necessary.

The first elevated railway in New York City, called Ninth Ave El, opened in 1868. From 1868 through 1870, the line ran on a single track and was extended to 30th Street.

 It was followed the Second, Third and Sixth Avenue Els.

Train ride was fairly luxurious for the riders, but El was quite bad for the people who lived along the tracks. Not only they lost privacy as the train was on the level with their windows, but also dirt and fumes from the trains made the situation quite insufferable
The Gilded Ageand the birth of metropolis
The term “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain in the book ‘The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today’. The name refers to the process of gilding an object with a superficial layer of gold and is meant to make fun of ostentatious display while playing on the term “golden age”.

The Gilded Age refers to the era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States during the post–Civil War and post-Reconstruction eras of the late 19th century. The Gilded Age, the era of robber barons, inventors, industrialists and millions of newly arrived immigrants, is responsible for the creation of a modern industrial economy.

The late 19th century saw the advent of new communication technologies, including the phonograph, the telephone, and radio; the rise of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines; the growth of commercialized entertainment, as well as new sports, including basketball, bicycling, and football, and appearance of new transportation technologies, such as the automobile, electric trains and trolleys.

The era between Civil War and Great Depression was the most dynamic in the development of New York. During this period New York town became a New York City, and its citizens – urban people.
1870  Metropolitan Museum is established.
Story has it that in 1866 a group of Americans in Paris, gathered at a restaurant to celebrate the Fourth of July (American Independence Day).  After dinner, John Jay, a prominent lawyer and grandson of eminent American jurist John Jay, gave a speech proposing that he and his compatriots create a “national institution and gallery of art.”

During the next four years, they convinced American civic leaders, art collectors, and philanthropists to support the project, and in 1870 the Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated. 
1871  Boss Tweed is arrested.
Boss Tweed was arrested due to an extraordinary cost overrun for the County Courthouse, now referred to as “the Tweed Courthouse.”   The project which was originally estimated at $250,000 eventually tallied up to $12,000,000, most of which went into the pocket of Tweed and his cronies.

Ironically, his trial was held in the still-incomplete courthouse. He was convicted of 204 counts and after some time in prison, died in 1878.
1877  Bell Telephone service starts. Natural History Museum opens
In 1877, Professor Alexander Graham Bell held his first demonstration of the telephone for New Yorkers. He was carrying a conversation from the Hotel St Denis (on Broadway and 11th) with his assistant in Brooklyn.

Later that year the telephone company of New York was incorporated and started offering telephone service to the City. One unfortunate detail associated with the phones was that the wires suspended from poles were blocking the sky.

Natural History Museum.The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world. The museum complex contains 23 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls.

The museum collections contain over 32 million specimens of plants, humans, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time.

The museum receives about five million visitors annually.​​
1878   St Patrick Cathedral built on 5th Avenue.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Ave is the largest Catholic cathedral in North America and a seat of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

The “Old St Patrick Cathedral” is located on Mulberry Street in Nolita. It is still a parish church and is the oldest Catholic site in New York City.

The cornerstone for the new cathedral was laid in 1858, much further north of the populous areas of New York at that time. The work on the cathedral was interrupted by the American Civil War, recommencing in 1865. It was completed in 1878.

The magnificent building was designed by James Renwick, Jr. in the Gothic Revival style.
Famously, Scott Fitzgerald and his fiancé, Zelda, were married in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The cathedral was the setting for a large portion of the 1990 film, The Godfather Part 3.
1880  Met Opera established.  New Millionaires.
​​The City becomes home for new millionaires. John D. Rockefeller made his money in oil, Carnegie and Frick – in steel, the Morgans were bankers, and Cornelius Vanderbilt made his fortunes in ferry service and railroads.

The Metropolitan Opera Company was incorporated by Vanderbilt, Gould, and a few others who couldn’t get seats in the snobby Academy of Music.
1882 Edison opens electric power plant.  The Chinese Exclusion Act.
Thomas Edison built the world’s first electric power plant to the city, located on Pearl Street. In 1882 he held the first ever demonstration of electrified buildings and streets in downtown Manhattan. The Pearl Street generating station provided 110 volts of electrical power to 59 customers in lower Manhattan. First few months after Edison’s system went into operation, customers weren’t charged a penny. As the inventor was working out the kinks, the city was slowly getting used to the idea which took another decade to really catch on.

The Chinese Exclusion Act.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. In the spring of 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration. For the first time, Federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic working group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities.
1883 Brooklyn Bridge opens.  Immigration from Eastern Europe.
Spectacular in looks and revolutionary in design, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first bridge to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn and was the longest suspension bridge in the world. In fact it was 50% longer than any bridge previously built.

Immigration from Eastern Europe.
Before 1883 over 80% of immigrants came from Northern and Western Europe.

In 1880, New York had 80,000 Jews mostly from Germany. But after 1881 when Czar Alexander II was assassinated, the government of the new Czar, Alexander III organized one pogrom after another to keep the anger of the masses focused on the Jews.
1884 The Dakota is built.
Pioneering development of the Upper West Side as well as the idea of luxury apartment living, the Dakota was built on 72nd street and Central Park West. By this time, the city was built up to 40th street; therefore building up in the 70s was nothing but sheer madness. The Upper West Side was sparsely inhabited and considered as remote as the Dakota Territory.
1886   Statue of Liberty.
“Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American independence.

Construction of the statue began in 1875 in France, and was completed in 1884.  After a presentation ceremony in Paris, the statue was dismantled and shipped to NYC in 214 containers.

The statue took its sculptor Bartholdi 10 years to complete, and it took 2 more years to collect money and build the pedestal.
1888   The Blizzard of 1888.
In March of 1888 New York City was slammed by one of the most devastating blizzards in recorded history.   From March 11th to 15th the city was buried underneath a twenty to fifty-inch blanket of snow. The Great White Hurricane, as it came to be known, disabled transportation and telegraph communication from the Chesapeake Bay to Montreal.  Huge, “modern” cites suddenly found themselves cut off from the rest of the world.
1891 Carnegie Hall opens. Washington Square Arch built.
Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for classical music. The performer for the opening night was none other than famous Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Washington Square Arch
The arch was designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1889 to celebrate the centenary of George Washington’s inauguration.

It was supposed to be a temporary wooden structure constructed for the festivities. The arch was such a hit that its Marble version was immediately commissioned to architect Stamford White.
​​1892 Ellis Island opens.
Known as the “Island of Tears”, Ellis Island was the largest formal gateway to America at the time. Over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through it between 1892 and 1954.
1897     First Waldorf Astoria opens.
The original Waldorf-Astoria, designed by Hardenberg, opens on 5th and 34th. At the cost of $13 million, with 1,000 rooms, it is the most expensive, largest and the most magnificent hotel in the world.
1898  Greater New York is established.
​​​At the very end of the century, the five boroughs were incorporated into metro New York City. “Broadway” becomes the official name of the most famous street in New York City.
turn of the century and jazz age
1901 Theodore Roosevelt becomes president.
​Theodore “T.R.” Roosevelt, Jr.  was an American author, naturalist, explorer, historian, and politician who served as the 26th President of the United States. He was the first American president born in New York City.
1902 Flatiron Building is built.  Macy’s becomes “largest store on Earth”. Met Museum moves to present location.
The Flatiron Building, designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, fills the wedge-shaped area at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. The Flatiron, one of the most recognizable buildings in New York, is the city’s first skyscraper.

Macy’s, which started as a humble dry goods store on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in 1858, in 1902 moved to its present location on Herald Square and became “the largest store on earth”.
1900-15 Early Bohemia in Greenwich Village.
The Village at the turn of the 20th century was quaint, picturesque, and ethnically diverse. By the start of World War I it was widely known as a bohemian enclave with secluded side streets, low rents, and a tolerance for radicalism and nonconformity.
1904 Subway opens. Times Square gets named. General Slocum disaster
On Thursday afternoon, October 27, 1904, the mayor of New York City, George B. McClellan, officially opened the New York City subway system. The first subway train left City Hall station with the mayor at the controls, and 26 minutes later arrived at 145th Street.

The subway opened to the general public at 7 p.m. that evening, and before the night was over, more than 150,000 passengers had ridden the trains through the underground tunnels.

General Slocum disaster.

The deadliest disaster in New York before 9/11 killed over 1,000 people, mainly women and children, and ultimately erased a German community from the map of Manhattan.
1906  Stanford White killed
1906 saw one of the greatest social scandals of the century when renowned architect Stanford White, a flamboyant figure and a known womanizer, was shot and killed by Harry Thaw, a millionaire husband of Evelyn Nesbit, a show girl and White’s ex-lover.
1909 Manhattan Bridge.  Met Life Tower
In the wild race to be the tallest in the world, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower achieved that distinction in 1909. It was the tallest structure in the world for 4 years, until the Woolworth Building was erected.

Manhattan Bridge

The Manhattan Bridge was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River.  Because it was conceived after the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges, it was called Bridge No. 3 in its planning phase.
1911 New York Public Library
The NYPL, with its 75 miles of shelves of books, is one of the most important research libraries in the world.

It was used by Isaac Bashevis Singer, E.L. Doctorow, Somerset Maugham, Norman Mailer, John Updike, Tom Wolfe, etc. Research for the Xerox copier, the Polaroid camera, and the atomic bomb were all conducted at its desks.

The New York Public Library was NOT created by a government statute, but by a philanthropist. New York governor and presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden, John Jacob Astor, and James Lenox left their libraries, along with large sums of money, for the establishment of the Library.
1913 Woolworth Building.  Grand Central Terminal
Woolworth BuildingThe venerable Cathedral of Commerce, otherwise known as the Woolworth Building, became the tallest in the world in 1913.

At 60 stories, and almost 800 feet tall, it stood as the tallest building in the world for 17 years. 100 years after its construction, amazingly, it’s still one of the twenty tallest buildings in New York City.

Grand Central Terminal
The Grand Central Terminal was built to house Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroad network, consolidated in the late 19th century as New York Central. It was envisioned as a gateway to the city, which at the time was mostly located to the station’s south.
1916 Zoning Resolution passed.
The New York City 1916 Zoning Resolution was a measure adopted primarily to stop massive buildings from preventing light and air from reaching the streets below. According to the zoning law the higher the building went the skinnier it had to become. The law was usually interpreted as a series of setbacks. Such design was referred to as ‘wedding cake’.
1920 Wall Street Bombing. Start of Prohibition.
At noon on September 16, 1920, a horse drawn buggy loaded with 100 pounds of dynamite exploded across the street from the J.P. Morgan bank headquarters in downtown Manhattan.
The explosion blew out windows for blocks around, killed 30 immediately, injured hundreds of others and completely destroyed the interior of the Morgan building. Those responsible were never found, but evidence—in the form of a warning note received at a nearby office building—suggested anarchists.

Start of Prohibition.
Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920.  Prohibition was a period of nearly fourteen years of U.S. history in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor was made illegal. It led to the first and only time an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed.
1923 Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age
The 1920s were labeled the Jazz Age but the music was only a part of it: Social rules were being rewritten, and in Manhattan, downtown was going up as white society and dollars poured into Harlem every night.

While the Cotton Club (opened in 1923 by the gangster Owney Madden) was Harlem’s most glamorous nightclub, the community’s biggest and most beautiful ballroom was the Savoy. It covered a whole city block on Lenox Avenue between 140th and 141st Streets, employed two bands at once so that the music need never stop, and was so popular with dancers that its maple-and-mahogany floor had to be replaced every three years. Just 50 cents on weeknights — 75 cents on Sundays — the Savoy billed itself as “the Home of Happy Feet.”
1926 James Walker becomes mayor.
Dapper Jimmy Walker presided over New York during the great age of Gatsby and perfectly embodied that moment of indulgence: the public servant who favored short workdays and long afternoons at Yankee Stadium, who left his wife and their Greenwich Village apartment for a chorus girl and a suite at the Ritz-Carlton.

While the roaring 20s were still roaring, he easily won his re-election over Fiorello LaGuardia. However, after Stock Market Crash of 1929, when the nation had a collective hangover, Walker, under pressure from then Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, resigned.
1929 Wall Street crash.
1929 Wall Street Crash was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States.
modern times
1930, 31 Chrysler Building. Empire State Building.
New York City became known for its daring and impressive architecture, most notably the skyscrapers. 

In 1930 two skyscrapers were locked in dead heat competition to be the tallest in the world. Famously 40 Wall claimed its honor for 2 weeks only, when the Chrysler pierced New York sky with its 125 foot Art Deco spire. It became the first in the world to rise higher that 1000 ft., and, yes, it was the tallest in the world for all of 11 months. 

In 1931, after only 14 month of construction, the engineering wonder, the first building ever to exceed 100 stories, the Empire State Building was finished. 
1929-40  The Great Depression
The Great Depression (1929-39) was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world.
In the United States, the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and rising levels of unemployment.
By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed. Though the relief and reform measures put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped lessen the worst effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the economy would not fully turn around until after 1939, when World War II kicked American industry into high gear.
1931-39 Rockefeller Center built
The building boom, which started in the 20s, came to an abrupt halt with the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

City’s only building project which lasted throughout the Depression was the Rockefeller Center. Although John D. Rockefeller Jr. spent most of his life engaged in philanthropy, his single, defining business venture was the creation of the “city within a city”.

Constructed during the Great Depression’s worst years, the project gainfully employed over 40,000 people.
1933 Prohibition repealed
The fourteen years of Prohibition were a dark time for the United States, as the criminalization of alcohol led to a rise in civil delinquency and organized crime.
1934-45 Fiorello La Guardia elected mayor
In 1933, Republican reformer Fiorello La Guardia was elected mayor.
La Guardia, sometimes considered New York’s greatest mayor, was of both Italian and Jewish descent.
La Guardia was elected to the office for 3 consecutive terms. He was honest and energetic, he went after organized crime, and cleaned up the Police Department, which was involved in a protection racket, a practice  wherein a person or group indicates that they could protect a business from potential damage that the same person or group would otherwise inflict.
He was the one to pick Gracie Mansion (at East River and 88th Street) as the official residence of the New York City Mayor.
1934-60 Robert Moses serves as NYC’s park commissioner
Robert Moses played a larger role in shaping the physical environment of New York State than any other figure in the 20th century.
For 44 years, from 1924 until 1968, Mr. Moses constructed public works in the city and state costing $27 billion. 
Mr. Moses built parks, highways, bridges, playgrounds, housing, tunnels, beaches, zoos, civic centers, exhibition halls and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. He created 17 miles of beaches including Jones Beach, 7 bridges, 2 tunnels, parkways and highways around the city. 
Yet, for all the good he’s done, his legacy is extremely controversial. By clearing slums he misplaced people, by building highways he destroyed functional communities, by constructing roads he was destroying the city’s cultural heritage.
1939-40 New York World’s Fair
The 1939 New York World’s Fair opened on April 30, 1939, which was the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington in New York City, back when it was the nation’s first capitol.

The Fair, whose theme was “Building the World of Tomorrow”, was attended by about 40 million people, with pavilions representing 33 countries.

Exhibitions in the USSR Pavilion included the life-size copy of the interior of the showcase Mayakovskaya station of the Moscow Metro. The Jewish Palestine Pavilion introduced the world to the concept of a modern Jewish state, which a decade later would become Israel. The “World trade center” pavilion, dedicated to “world peace through trade”, gave the idea to the future contraction of the World Trade Center. 
1952 United Nations Headquarters built
The United Nations Headquarters complex was constructed beside the East River, on 17 acres of land purchased from the foremost New York real estate developer of the time, William Zeckendorf.

The $8.5 million purchase was then funded by his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who donated it to the City. Rather than announce a competition for the best design, the UN decided to commission a collaborative effort among a multinational team of world leading architects.

The board included Wallace Harrison, the personal architectural adviser for the Rockefeller family, architectural giants like Le Corbusier (Switzerland) and Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil), who continued to work well into his 90s and died 2012 at the age of 104.
1959-1966 Lincoln Center built
Lincoln Center is home to 12 institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Lincoln Center Theater, the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet. Thousands of concerts and performances happen here each year, making it one of New York’s most visited venues.
1965 Landmark Preservation Commission
​After the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, one of the most beautiful buildings in New York, to make way for the construction of the current Madison Square Garden, one of the ugliest, the same fate was set to befall the Grand Central.

Public outcry caused by destruction of historic and cultural treasures of New York City resulted in creation of Landmark Preservation Commission. This organization is responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status.
1964 New York World Fair, 1964
The Fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”.
1970s Ford to NYC: “Drop Dead!”
The New York City of the 1970s looked very different from the gentrified metropolis we know today. Industrial decline, economic stagnation, and ‘white flight’ to the suburbs led to the dramatic downturn for America’s largest city.
1972 World Trade Center is built
Lower Manhattan Association, created in 1959 by David Rockefeller in order to revitalize lower Manhattan, began promoting the idea of a “world trade and finance center” in New York City.

The idea was finalized as a complex of seven buildings with two 110 stories Twin Towers at its core.  At 1,368 and 1,362 feet, they were to be the world’s tallest skyscrapers. The gargantuan office space could accommodate 50,000 people; it even had its own postal index. The South Tower had the Top of the World Observation Deck and North Tower hosted the famous Windows of the World Restaurant.

The Twin Towers along with other 5 WTC skyscrapers were destroyed on September 11th, 2001 by Islamist terrorists who hijacked planes and crashed them into the towers. 2,753 lives were lost in horrific attacks. The tragedy of Sept 11 forever changed nation’s psychology . It grew up.
1980s Rebirth of Wall Street
New York’s economy not only grew during the eighties but also underwent a restructuring. Manufacturing witnessed a decline, but finance, insurance, and the real estate industry expanded by 64% in one decade and came to become major New York industries.

Edward I. Koch was elected the 105th Mayor of New York City in 1977 and remained in the office until 1989. With his colorful personality, the honest and capable leader led the city out of its worst economic times. He said: “We have been shaken by troubles that would have destroyed any other city. But we are not any other city. We are the city of New York and New York in adversity towers above any other city in the world.”
1990s New York City is safe again
​In the late 1990s, the city benefited from the success of the financial sectors and led to a decade of booming real estate values. The city’s population and real estate prices started to soar.
2000 Rapid growth
According to the 2000 census, New York’s population reached an all-time high.
2001 World Trade Center destroyed
The 21st Century in NYC started with one of the most horrific evens in American history.
On September 11, 2001, two planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers, destroying the complex and killing nearly 3,000 people. One World Trade Center was struck at 8:46 a.m.; Two World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m.  The Twin Towers fell,  and the remaining 5 World Trade Center buildings followed shortly afterwards.
2002 Bloomberg elected mayor
Michael Rubens Bloomberg, the 108th Mayor of New York City, held the office for three consecutive terms from 2002 to 1013.

He was first elected in November 2001, two months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, a time when many believed that crime would return, businesses would flee, and New York might never recover. Instead, through hundreds of innovative new policies and initiatives, Mayor Bloomberg has made New York City safer, stronger, greener, and more innovative than ever.

According to Forbes Magazine Michael Bloomberg, whose worth is $32.5 Billion, was not the richest mayor in the world, merely the 16th richest person in the world.
2009 High Line Park Opens
One of the most unusual parks in the city is suspended over the street level. It’s the Highline Park. The High Line was built in the 1930s to carry freight trains delivering meat and other products to the factories located along the railroad. When trains stopped running on the High Line in 1980, it was supposed to be demolished but was instead turned into a park.
2004 Time Warner Building. Hearst Tower
The Time Warner Center was the first major building to be completed in Manhattan since the September 11, 2001 attacks, although it was already under construction in 2001.

Hearst Tower was the first skyscraper to break ground in New York City after September 11, 2001.
2012 Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.

The storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles across).

At least 53 people died in New York as a result of the storm.
The Greatest City in the World!
It’s hard to overestimate the significance of New York City. Relatively young, as far as cities go, New York has become the center of the world in so many respects.

It hosts the headquarters of the United Nations, it’s the home for the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street and Federal reserve; Metropolitan Opera, Broadway theaters, and Madison Avenue; Metropolitan, Guggenheim and MoMA  Museums, Blue Note, Village Vanguard, Iridium and hundreds of other Jazz clubs;  New York University, Columbia University, and Julliard School of Music are in New York City.

New York is the world’s greatest cultural center and a creative force like no other. It is a communication, financial capital of the world and an entertainment mecca.

It’s a melting pot, it’s the city of immigrants, it’s the place which was accepting ‘the tired and the poor’ from the all over the world and, in exchange, received enormous quantities of talent and creative energy, which shaped New York into what it is now, the greatest city in the world.

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