What Was New Netherland?

Church and Market Streets in Albany

James Eights’s drawing of Albany, NY in 1805 shows that—more than a century after the end of Dutch rule—the city still retained its Dutch character.

Notice the split doors. You can see 17th century gables atop some of the houses. The Dutch Reformed Church sits at the end of the street.

What were their homes like?

The first colonists lived in square pits, like cellars, that were covered with wood and bark. These simple shelters protected them from the elements until they could build basic cottages. Once New Netherland became more established, colonists built better wooden and later stone and brick houses.

Dutch homes were different from the English homes of the same era. Dutch homes had one or two rooms on the first floor, a smaller upper garret for storage, and many times a clock loft overhead. The outside doors of their houses were split horizontally. These split doors allowed the Dutch colonists to open the upper section to let fresh air in, while keeping the lower section closed. The style of door kept unwanted animals out of the house and prevented little children from running outside without their mothers knowing.

In Dutch homes, people slept in bedstede or bed boxes, which could be closed up from the inside to protect sleepers from the cold night air. Many Dutch homes had a piece of furniture called a kast in them.  This was a large chest for storing linens.

By the 1660s, the streets of New Amsterdam and Beverwijck were increasingly filled with rows of stone and brick houses with tiled roofs.


About the New Netherland Institute

For a quarter century NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. Directed by Dr. Charles Gehring. More

 

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