A 19th century sketch map of the Dutch colonial settlement of New Haarlem shows a number of interesting features.
Notice how the streets are oriented to true north/south, not on a ‘Manhattan-esque’ angle as they are now (based on The Commissioner’s Plan). Also, New Haarlem was centered around 122 and 2nd Avenue, not west along 125th Street. The Dutch village ultimately used the Harlem and East Rivers for most travel to/from other settlements.
As you can see below, there was a pond, centered on 125th street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues:
And a road, leaving for Spuyten Duyvel (Inwood) headed due north from the church farm land which was on the outskirts of the village:
Lastly, the churchyard and graveyard were around 125/126 and 1st Avenue, where we now know there is a burial ground of enslaved Africans:
If you’ve walked north on Madison from 125th Street you might have seen the faded ad on the side of an east-side building:
Looking carefully, you’ll see it’s an ad for shoe polish. The brand of which I can’t make out:
Dear Valued MTA NYC Transit Customer, Even in a global pandemic, we’re working hard to improve your experience with the transit system. As we plan for more customers to return, we need to hear from you, even if you haven’t used transit since before the pandemic began in March 2020. We’d like to get an idea about your concerns and travel needs, so that we can better meet and exceed your expectations. The survey will be open 24/7 through Sunday, March 28, at 11:59 PM. Finish the survey by then, and you can choose to be entered into a drawing to receive one of ten 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards or one of five 7-Day Unlimited Ride Express Bus Plus MetroCards. Depending on how many subway lines and/or bus routes you choose to evaluate, the survey should take less than 15 minutes. Take the survey. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us,
MTA Chief Customer Officer
In 1639 the Dutch colonial authorities needed a steady source of lumber to build their mercantile city at the tip of Manhattan island. Harlem – a small coastal hamlet – at that time encompassed land as far south at 72nd street, and thus included the site of the Dutch sawmill that was erected in the northern forest lands. The site of the mill was located at what is now 74th Street and 2nd Avenue, and it was at this location that the Dutch company which controlled New Holland, sent a number of its slaves to work.
Enslaved Africans built New York, and it was their forced labor enabled the colonial Dutch to prosper.
Census Data from 1661: Multicultural and Multilinguistic Dutch New Haarlem
The first European colonists to arrive and settle in Harlem were strikingly diverse. The Dutch West Indies company that settled the village that would become New York City, focused on the robust accumulation of wealth as a primary objective and not on a monocultural populace. The earliest record of Harlem residents shows a variety of ethnic origins:
Jean Le Roy
Francois Le Sueur
Simon De Ruine
David Du Four
Jan De Pre
Michiel Janse Muyden
Aert Pietersen Buys
Jan Pietersen Slot
Nicolaes De Meyer
Jan Laurens Duyts
Jacob Elderts Brouwer
Monis Peterson Staeck
This list, of course, only itemizes white, European men. Children, women, Indigenous People, and African slaves, were not included in this 1661 census.
The Met announced the discovery of a painting by esteemed American artist Jacob Lawrence that has been missing for decades. The panel is one of 30 that comprise Lawrence’s powerful epic, Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), and it will be reunited immediately with the series, now on view at The Met through November 1 in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. Titled by the artist There are combustibles in every State, which a spark might set fire to. —Washington, 26 December 1786, the work depicts Shays’ Rebellion, the consequential uprising of struggling farmers in western Massachusetts led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays; it protested the state’s heavy taxation and spurred the writing of the U.S. Constitution and efforts to strengthen federal power. The panel is number 16 in the Struggle series.
The painting has not been seen publicly since 1960, when the current owners purchased it at a local charity art auction. A recent visitor to The Met’s exhibition, who knew of the existence of an artwork by Lawrence that had been in a neighbor’s collection for years, suspected that the painting might belong to the Struggle series and encouraged the owners to contact the Museum.
The work will be specially featured at The Met and will also join the touring exhibition, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), for presentations in Birmingham, Alabama; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C., through next fall.
Last year a number of major museums in The Netherlands began to cease using the term “Golden Age” to describe the 17th-century Dutch empire that included New Amsterdam, and the village that became Harlem. In particular, Dutch society has begun to wrestle with fact that much of the power and wealth centered in Holland during the 17th century was based on the transatlantic slave trade:
“The Western Golden Age occupies an important place in Western historiography that is strongly linked to national pride, but positive associations with the term such as prosperity, peace, opulence, and innocence do not cover the charge of historical reality in this period,” van der Molen explained. “The term ignores the many negative sides of the 17th century such as poverty, war, forced labor, and human trafficking.”
In the spring of 1664, for example, the landowners in Harlem travelled to New Amsterdam (the lower tip of Manhattan) to participate in a slave auction. James Riker, in 1904, notes:
The opening spring brought its share of work for the farmers. A shelter was needed for the young calves turned out to feed on Barent’s Island, and at a meeting held March 13th it was agreed to build on April ist. They also resolved to fence the gardens. Some of the inhabitants, in want of servants and laborers, seized the opportunity to buy a number of negro slaves, sold at auction in Fort Amsterdam, May 29th, by order of the Director and Council. They had arrived on the 24th instant, in the company’s ship Sparrow, from Chicago. At that sale were eager bidders, Johannes Verveelen, Daniel Tourneur, Nicholas De Meyer, Jacques Cousseau, Isaac De Forest, and even Jacob Leisler, himself, in 1678, enslaved by the Turks, and years later the champion of liberty! Verveelen bought a negro at 445 a., De Meyer one at 460 fl., and Tourneur another at 465 fl. These were probably the first slaves owned at New Harlem, and, strange as it may seem, the recollections of the living run back to the time when negro slavery still existed here.
Harlem has, since the Dutch settlement of Manhattan, been known by 3 names. Nieuwe Haarlem, Lancaster, and Harlem. The name Lancaster was imposed (unsuccessfully) by Richard Nicholls, the governor of New York, in 1666, during the brief period between May 1688 and April 1689, during which New York was part of the Dominion of New England, the territory was known in this period as the Province of New York.
His proclamation read:
That from and after the date of these Presents the said Town shall no longer be called New Harlem, but shall be known and called by the name of Lancaster; and in all deeds, bargains and sales, records or writings, shall be so deemed, observed and written.
A Tourist Guide’s Guide to 6 Must-See’s in Harlem
I confess I”m suspicious of any guide to our community that uses an image of Brooklyn in the chapter on Marcus Garvey Park, but nevertheless, this article did make me ask myself, ‘What are my top 6 Must-See’s in Harlem?’