The 2009 quadricentennial celebrations commemorating the discovery of the Hudson River by Henry Hudson will also spotlight one of our deepest and most enduring national legacies—the Dutch presence that has shaped not just the Hudson Valley but four centuries of American life.
This lavishly illustrated book, a companion to the exhibition opening in June 2009 at the Hudson River Museum, takes needed stock of the remarkable past created by the settlers of New Netherlands. Although the Dutch controlled the Hudson Valley only until ceding it to the British in 1664, the Dutch established the towns and cities that today define the region—from New Amsterdam upriver to Fort Orange, today’s Albany. The Dutch heritage lives on, not only in historic estates or Dutch-named places like the Bronx or Yonkers but also in commerce, law, politics, religion, art, and culture.
In thirteen original essays, this book traverses those four centuries to enrich and expand our understanding of America’s origins. The essays, written by a superb team of distinguished scholars, are grouped into five chronological frames—1609, 1709, 1809, 1909, and 2009—each marking a key point in the history of the Dutch in the valley.
The topics range widely, from patterns of settlement and the Dutch encounter with slavery and Native America to Dutch influences in everything from architecture and religion to material culture, language, and literature.
Based on fresh research, this book is at once a fascinating introduction to a remarkable past and a much-needed new look at the Dutch role in the region, in the story of America’s origins, and in creating the habits, styles, and practices identified as quintessentially New York’s.