Practice English Speaking&Listening with: iFly TV: Dutch heritage in New York

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Not everybody knows this...

but New York started as New Amsterdam in the 17th century.

It was a little village on the southern tip of Manhattan.

Once you do know about it, you start recognising it in many places.

Thats when you recognise the Dutch history of the city.

Im Heleen Westerhuijs. Im from the Netherlands but live in New York.

Im a historian of architecture.

Here you can see what New Amsterdam looked like in the 17th century.

The people of the Netherlands gave this as a gift to New York...

in memory of the discovery of Manhattan by the Dutch 400 years ago.

If you look closely, you will see all the tiny houses...

where the people of New Amsterdam lived.

There were no paved roads as there are now.

The roads were made of sand. People got around with horse and carriage.

Traders. People walking around.

Kids playing in the streets. It was a different kind of busy.

What do you think this square is?

One of the most important buildings in New Amsterdam was, of course, a bar.

We are standing in the middle of it.

Why was this bar so important? To have a drink, of course.

But also to get the latest news.

People arrived on the boat and walked straight to the bar...

to meet the locals.

It became officially the most important building in the city.

The bar became City Hall.

And if you think about it, that does make sense.

All the important things were discussed in the bar.

In 1642, the Dutch built a canal known as The Ditch.

Ships docked off the southern tip of Manhattan.

Cargo was transferred to smaller boats...

which sailed up the canal to distribute the wares.

The canals were built for practical use, not to be pretty.

They were used as a sewer.

Sometimes all the mud prevented boats from reaching their destination.

You can read all about it here.

Broad Street was laid out with a canal down the middle.

The sheriff made sure that no waste was thrown into the canal.

This is where the canal ended.

And this is Wall Street. New Amsterdam ended here.

This was the boundary of the city.

Today its home to the stock exchange.

There is still a bit of Dutch history in New York.

Its not obvious, but some buildings still exist.

Theres Wyckoff Farm, for instance. I sometimes still visit to do research.

Its the oldest house in New York.

Joshua is showing me the construction of the walls.

I wanted to show you this wall.

You can feel the plant fibre. From the 17th century corn cobs were used...

for insulation. They were a by-product of the milling process.

They were grinding the corn into flour.

I have to show you this. You can see the difference between this construction...

and those old beams there.

Theyre much older. This is how we know how old the building is.

Lets go back to the city and end our tour with the future.

The place where it all started is opening to the public.

That was a nice ride!

The colonists first arrived on this island and set up homes here.

This is really great, theyre turning the whole island into a public park.

It will be the main park downtown - but on an island. Isnt it amazing?

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

And that next time you come to New York you give a thought to New Amsterdam.

Im off.


The Description of iFly TV: Dutch heritage in New York