Welcome to New Netherland. If you are a first-time visitor, you are about to enter a lost world. Then again, you may soon discover that you've been here before. In fact, you may live here. New Netherland was a colony founded by the Dutch on the east coast of North America in the seventeenth century, which vanished when the English wrested control of it in 1664, turning its capital, New Amsterdam, into New York City. It extended from Albany, New York, in the north to Delaware in the south. It encompassed parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware.
New Netherland got underway at about the same time the Pilgrims were settling Cape Cod and the Jamestown colony was establishing itself in Virginia, but you wouldn't know that from most history books. To visit New Netherland is to see familiar places in new ways. It is to see Manhattan not as the steel-and-concrete center of the financial world, but a forested island with a tiny, rough-and-ready European settlement clinging to its southern tip. It is to imagine what is now the northeastern United States as a virgin wilderness, inhabited by native Americans and small groups of European settlers, who navigated not by roads or even forest paths but by the watery highways of the region: the Hudson, Delaware, and Connecticut Rivers. In New Netherland you will discover familiar-sounding places: Lang Eylant (Long Island), Breuckelen (Brooklyn), Haarlem, Staten Eylant (Staten Island) (named after the "Staten Generaal" or States General, the governing body in the seventeenth-century Netherlands)--all testaments to the legacy of New Netherland and its contributions to American history and culture.
But place names only scratch the surface of New Netherland's legacy. From Santa Claus to log cabins, pancakes to cole slaw, multiculturalism to upward mobility, New Netherland influenced American culture in surprising ways.
Text and research by Russell Shorto, an author and journalist. Mr. Shorto's books include the best-selling history of New Netherland, The Island at the Center of the World.
Original site design by Howard L. Funk, the designer and webmaster for the original web site of the New Netherland Project and the New Netherland Institute.
Technical consultation by Dr. Charles Gehring, the Director of the New Netherland Research Center.
2012 exhibit redesign by Bill Greer, an NNI trustee and author of The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan, and Steve McErleane.