The capital city of New York has an unusually patchwork history. Needless to say, the area was under Dutch control before it fell into English hands, but even in the Dutch period there were three distinct entities that vied with one another over territory and rights.
It all started, of course, with beavers. "The people of the Countrie came flocking aboard...and many brought us Bevers skinnes, and Otters skinnes," wrote Robert Juet, an officer aboard Henry Hudson's Half Moon, as he gave his account of the first Dutch-financed exploration up the river that now bears Hudson's name. The ship was then at a spot on the western shore of the river near where another, east-west system, the Mohawk River Valley, joined it. Thus began the Dutch awareness that this confluence marked a vital spot for what would be the primary activity of New Netherland: trading with the Indians for furs. Beginning in a remarkably short time following Hudson's voyage, Dutch traders were on the scene. The town that sprang up--Beverwijck, later Albany--grew to become the second city in New Netherland, after New Amsterdam, and eventually the capital of New York State.