New Netherland's Legacy

A Cultural Survival

By the time Dutch West India Company Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant surrendered Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan to an English invasion force in September 1664, Netherlandic traditions had been firmly implanted in key cultural regions along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, on western Long Island, and in New Jersey. The New Netherland colony contained about nine thousand inhabitants, with two major trading centers, Nieuw Amsterdam (New York City) and Beverwijck (Albany), sixteen villages, and a number of smaller settlements and isolated farmsteads scattered along the bays, islands, inlets, and kills (creeks) of a vast territory extending from the Delaware River to the Connecticut River and northward along the Hudson River into the Mohawk River Valley. Through the influence of Dutch cartographers, Dutch place names such as Brooklyn (Breuckelen), Staten Island (Staaten Eiland), Catskill, Harlem (Haerlem), and Kinderhook had already become widely accepted and remained in use.

Cultural interaction between the Dutch and New York did not end with the English invasion. Flourishing trade, both legal and illegal, continued between New York and the Dutch colonial world long after 1664 despite England's attempts to restrict it with the various Navigation Acts. New Yorkers still looked to the Dutch Republic's urban centers for news, fashion, and ideas for generations after the English conquest. As late as 1756, when Britain's Parliament passed an act to stem the flow of smuggled goods on Dutch vessels into America, it created a crisis among New York merchants. Although New York and New Jersey imports of Dutch manufactured goods declined throughout the eighteenth century in relation to the import of English manufactured goods, Dutch exporters adjusted to the transition by developing markets in the colonies for new products, such as porcelain, paper, and gin.

Nonetheless, by the late seventeenth century a true international style had emerged across Europe, and the Dutch Republic reflected these trends.The survival of New World Dutch material culture, particularly in rural areas, thus became based on provincial isolationism and individual preferences for certain traditional forms. The result was regional variations and interpretations that reflected the settlers cultural origins. For this reason, the identification of a province-wide uniform Dutch cultural area in New York reflected shifting trends and identities that made provincial culture increasingly distinct from that of Patria.

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, 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. More


Subscribe Now

Subscribe to NNI's  e-Marcurius and DAG to receive information about New Netherland-related events, activities, conferences, and research.


Support NNI

By supporting NNI you help increase awareness of the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland and its legacy in America.