Historic Houses of New York City, New York
Europeans began exploring the region in the early 16th century. In 1624, The Dutch West India Company sent some 30 families to live and work in a tiny settlement that is today’s Governors Island. The settlement’s governor, Peter Minuit, purchased Manhattan Island from the native Lenape People and founded a colony called New Amsterdam. In 1674, the British seized Manhattan and renamed it New York in honor of the Duke of York. The city of New York became an important and prosperous commercial port and grew larger and more diverse. Immigration transformed the city during the 19th century as it grew into the largest city in the United States. The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 proposed the rectangular grid plan of streets and lots that defined New York City’s later development. The region would become the trading capital of the nation when the 363-mile-long Erie Canal linked the Hudson River to Lake Erie in 1825.
At the turn of the 20th century, New York City was the focus of international attention as skyscrapers competed to be the tallest in the world. Sprawling suburbs emerged as bedroom communities for commuters to the center of the city. Examples of New York’s earliest buildings from the Colonial, Federal, and Greek Revival periods are preserved and continued in use. Rapid expansion after the Civil War filled New York City with Gothic, Italianate, Victorian, and Edwardian rowhouses. It is home to some of the most significant Beaux-Arts and Italian Renaissance-style buildings in the United States.
The New York City Landmarks Commission and the Municipal Art Society emerged after the demolition of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in 1963 to protect historically, and culturally significant buildings.