English Across the Curriculum

New York


The first Europeans were explorers who were impressed by the area’s natural harbour. In 1609 the English navigator Henry Hudson sailed up the river that is today named after him. In 1626 the Dutch set up a trading post at the southern tip of Manhattan and called it New Amsterdam. In the same year they bought Manhattan from the Indians who lived there.

New Amsterdam in 1664
Image: Johannes Vingboons, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The British took over the colony in 1664 and named it after the Duke of York. After the American Revolution New York became America’s first capital , but only for a short time. Back then about 33,000 people lived there.

In the early part of the 19th century waves of European immigrants started to come to the city. They usually worked for little money, helped boost the economy and made New York the largest city in the country. The rapid growth of the city also created problems: crime, poverty, overpopulation and pollution. In the 1970s the city went through a big economic crisis. It didn’t have enough money to pay its bills and almost went bankrupt , but recovered again some years later.

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in 1902
Image:  See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In recent years the city has become the target of terrorist activities. In 1993 a car bomb exploded in the basement of the World Trade Centre, killing six people. The city’s darkest hour came on September 11th , 2001 when terrorists hijacked two planes and flew them into the World Trade Centre. Both buildings collapsed— the attack killed almost three thousand people. In April 2006 developers began constructing a skyscraper called Freedom Tower at the place where the World Trade Centre once stood.

United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center complex in New York City during the September 11 attacks

Image : UA_Flight_175_hits_WTC_south_tower_9-11.jpeg: Flickr user TheMachineStops (Robert J. Fisch)derivative work: upstateNYer, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons