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Facts About New York History: 7 Things You Might Not Know

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 11:03 AM

Thanks to early exploration of the Hudson Bay, the Empire State has a long and interesting history. From the real story behind the Dutch buying Manhattan to the second largest wine industry in the country, there are plenty of interesting facts about New York history to learn.

Here are seven facts about New York that you may not know:

1. Giovanni da Verrazzano explores New York Bay in 1524: Often overlooked in favor of Englishman Henry Hudson's exploration 85 years later, Italian explorer Verrazzano entered what is now New York Harbor in 1524 while working for the French. He explored the east coast between North Carolina and Newfoundland in the ship La Dauphine.

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The Italian Historical Society fought to have the explorer more widely recognized in history books. The naming of the bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island after the explorer — it's called the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge — gave him better name recognition in the region.

2. Iroquoian and Algonquian peoples beat Verrazzano by about 4,000 years: The five tribes that made up the Iroquois peoples lived in upstate New York for centuries before Europeans 'discovered' the region. Verrazzano described the harbor as having numerous native canoes and a thriving society, according to USHistory.org.

3. The Dutch didn't really buy Manhattan for $24:
The myth of buying Manhattan for a load of beads and trinkets is one of those stories that won't go away. First, the "60 guilders" that Dutch merchant Pieter Schagen of the Dutch West India Company claimed to pay would come out to about $951 in today's money.

Second, while the natives of the area and time period did have concepts of property rights, their ideas were different than the European notion of owning land. The tribe may have interpreted the transaction as being renting hunting rights or some sort of use rights, rather than relinquishing the land entirely, according to Mental Floss.

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4. New York has the 2nd largest wine industry in the United States:
According to the New York Wine and Grape Group, $4.8 billion from 175 million bottles of wine, grapes and grape juice are earned by the New York wine and grape industries each year. The Finger Lakes region and Hudson River region are two of the five major American Viticulture Areas in New York. Wineries bring lots of tourists and jobs to the state.

5. The New York-based Sons of Liberty helped get American Independence rolling: The group which was eventually responsible for the Boston Tea Party was formed in 1765 in New York to help communication between similar groups in the 13 colonies. The Battle of Golden Hill in 1770 over the Stamp Act and Quartering Act was one of the precursors to the Boston Massacre.

6. German U-boats dropped off spies on Long Island:
During World War II, German submarines ravaged shipping along the U.S. East Coast, including right off New York's shores. Four German saboteurs came ashore at Amagansett in June of 1942 intending to destroy defense production assets. Four other German spies came ashore near Jacksonville, Florida with the same mission. All the spies were soon caught and six of them were executed, according to an FBI history of the case.

7. 15 miles on the Erie Canal: Construction on the canal from Albany to Lake Erie was started in 1817 and completed in 1825. An engineering marvel, the canal significantly lowered the cost of shipping goods from the Midwest to the East Coast and overseas. The canal helped New York Harbor overtake Philadelphia and become the busiest port in the Northeast.

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Thanks to early exploration of the Hudson Bay, the Empire State has a long and interesting history. From the real story behind the Dutch buying Manhattan to the second largest wine industry in the country, there are plenty of interesting facts about New York history to learn.
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2015-03-14
Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 11:03 AM
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