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1609 Sep 12
English explorer Henry Hudson sailed his ship, the Half Moon, into the river that later took his name. Hudson sailed for the Dutch East India Company in search of the Northwest Passage, a water route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
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1626 May 4
Dutch explorer Peter Minuit (~1594-1638), director-general of New Netherlands, bought Manhattan Island for 60 guilders (about $24 in 1839 dollars) worth of cloth and buttons. Minuit conducted the transaction with Seyseys, chief of the Canarsees, who were only too happy to accept valuable merchandise in exchange for an island that was actually mostly controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks. The Sixty guilders were valued at approximately $1,060 in 2013. The site of the deal was later marked by Peter Minuit Plaza at South Street and Whitehall Street.
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1741
A slave revolt in New York caused considerable property damage but left people unharmed. Rumors of a conspiracy among slaves and poor whites in New York City to seize control led to a panic that resulted in the conviction of 101 blacks, the hanging of 18 blacks and four whites, the burning alive of 13 blacks and the banishment from the city of 70. In 2005 Anne Farrow, Joel Lang and Jennifer Frank authored “Complicity: The North Promoted, Prolonged and Profited from Slavery,” which included a chapter on the 1941 NYC slave revolt.
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1743
The first botanical survey of the NYC area was done by Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776). The Scotsman later served two terms as the colonial governor of the province of New York.
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1776 Sep 6
The Turtle, the 1st submarine invented by David Bushnell, attempted to secure a cask of gunpowder to the HMS Eagle, flagship of the British fleet, in the Bay of NY but got entangled with the Eagle’s rudder bar, lost ballast and surfaced before the charge was planted. Sergeant Ezra Lee released the bomb the next morning as a British barge approached. The British turned back and the bomb soon exploded. A month later the turtle was lost under British attack as it was being transported on a sailboat.
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1776 Sep 11
An American delegation consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge met with British Admiral Richard Lord Howe to discuss terms upon which reconciliation between Britain and the colonies might be based. The talks were unsuccessful. In 2003 Barnet Schecter authored “The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution.”
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1778
Benjamin Tallmadge, under orders from George Washington, organized a spy network in NYC, the heart of the British forces. The code name for the group was Samuel Culper and it became known as the Culper Gang.
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1787
Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith living in the Cherry Hill district of NYC, began minting gold doubloons, valued at $15, as currency for the new United States. In 1947 the film The Brasher Doubloon” was made based on a detective by novel Raymond Chandler. In 2011 a Brasher doubloon was sold for $7.4 million.
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1789 Mar 4
The Constitution of the United States, framed in 1787, went into effect as the first Federal Congress met in New York City. Lawmakers then adjourned for the lack of a quorum (9 senators, 13 representatives). In 2006 Robert V. Remini, historian of the US House of Representatives, authored “The House.”
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1789 Apr 30
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated. The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God of the Bible.
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1789 Nov
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the first tribunal in the United States, convened in New York, a few weeks ahead of the Supreme Court.
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1790 Mar 21
Thomas Jefferson (46) reported to President Washington in New York as the new US Secretary of state.
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1792 May 17
Stock traders signed the Buttonwood Agreement in New York City at the Tontine Coffee House Company near a Buttonwood tree, where business had been transacted in the past. 24 merchants formed their exchange at Wall and Water Streets where they fixed rates on commissions on stocks and bonds. This later developed into the New York Stock Exchange. A market crash and almost total halt in credit, trading and liquidity prompted the Buttonwood Agreement under the influence of Alexander Hamilton. The organization drafted its constitution on March 8th, 1817, and named itself the "New York Stock & Exchange Board."
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1803
Dewitt Clinton (1769-1828) began serving his 1st term as Mayor of New York City and continued to 1807. His 2nd term as mayor was from 1808-1810 and again from 1811-1815.
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1806
NYC Mayor DeWitt Clinton, having read the work of Englishman Joseph Lancaster, formed the New York Free School Society to found Lancastrian schools.
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1808
John Randel Jr., the secretary, surveyor and chief engineer for New York City’s street commissioners, and his colleagues began drafting and executing the street grid plan for Manhattan.
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1811
Manhattan adopted a street grid that allowed the island to be developed over time. It planned for a sevenfold expansion.

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1812 Jun 16
City Bank of New York came into existence. A group of merchants had taken the first steps towards setting up a new bank in 1811 to help New York compete with rivals Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore. In 1976, under the leadership of CEO Walter B. Wriston, First National City Bank (and its holding company First National City Corporation) was renamed Citibank, N.A.
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1812
Nicodemus Havens authored his “Wonderful Vision of the City of New York,” wherein he was presented with a view of the Situation of the World, after the dreadful Fourth of June, 1812, and showing what part of New York is to be destroyed.
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1828 Feb 11
Dewitt Clinton (b.1769), American politician and naturalist. He had served as a US Senator, 2-time governor of New York state and 3-time mayor of NYC.
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1829
Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), NYC-based entrepreneur, began his own line of steamboats and rapidly branched out to trans-oceanic shipping and railroad building.
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1831
The New York City Marble Cemetery on Manhattan's Lower East Side was established.
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1833 Sep 3
The first successful penny newspaper was published. Benjamin H. Day issued the first copy of "The New York Sun". By 1826, circulation was the largest in the country at 30,000. New York’s population was over 250,000, but its 11 daily newspapers had a combined circulation of only 26,500.
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1834 Jul 4
NYC Mayor Cornelius W. Lawrence presided over the laying of the cornerstone for the Astor House hotel, designed by Isaiah Rogers. Construction took four years and cost around $400,000.
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1834 Nov
In NYC hundreds paid 50 cents to look at Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to arrive in America.
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1835
The New York Sun hired Richard Adams Locke, a Briton, as editor. He soon wrote an anonymous series about a new telescope and observations of the moon that included the mention of vast forests, fields of poppies and lunar animals. Circulation soared to 19,360. In 840 he admitted to writing the moon hoax series. In 2008 Matthew Goodman authored “the Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York.”
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1836 Jun 1
In NYC the doors of the luxurious Astor House hotel opened to the public. It was a near copy on a grander scale of the earlier, fashionable Trement House in Boston, also designed by Isaiah Rogers.
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1838 Apr 23
The British steamship "Great Western" arrived in NYC on its maiden voyage from Bristol, England, just hours after the retrofitted steamship Sirius, which had departed Cork on April 4. The Great Western crossed the Atlantic in a record 15 days and 12 hours.
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1838 Oct 24
Joseph Lancaster (b.1778), English educator, was fatally injured by a runaway horsedrawn carriage in NYC.
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1841
1846
Capt. Robert E. Lee, Army engineer, worked on strengthening the defenses of New York Harbor and Fort Hamilton.
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1842
Hugh Hardman established the Hardman Piano Co. in NYC. Leopold Peck joined the company in 1880. The company’s name changed to Hardman, Peck & Co. when Peck became a partner in 1890.
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1846
NYC abandoned the Lancastrian school system in favor of direct teacher to student instruction in its tax supported schools.
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1846
New York newspapers collaborated to share costs for reporting on the Mexican war. This collaboration led to the formation of the Associated Press in 1848.
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1847
City College, later known as City Univ. of New York (CUNY) was founded in Harlem.
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1848 May
The Associated Press was formed in NYC.
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1848
A new rail line linked Greenwich, Connecticut, to Manhattan.
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1848
Col. J. D. Stevenson’s First Regiment of New York Volunteers, which fought in the Mexican war, disbanded in San Francisco. Many of the members had belonged to New York gangs like the Bowery Boys and Dead Rabbits. Some 50-60 of the vets joimed with ex-convicts from Australia and began hiring themselves out to merchants and sea captains calling themselves the Hounds and later the Regulators.
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1849 Apr 10
Walter Hunt (1796-1859), a mechanic, patented the safety pin in NYC. He sold rights for $400 to pay off a $15 debt. Hunt’s other inventions included a new stove, paper collar, ice-breaking boat, fountain pen and nail-making machine. In 2016 the safety pin gained prominence in Britain as a sign of solidarity with immigrant and minority populations facing a reported surge in hate crimes after the Brexit vote. The symbolism of the pin extended to the US following the election of Donald Trump.
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1849 May 10
A mob destroyed Astor Place opera house in NYC and 22 people were killed. Edward Z.C. Judson (Ned Buntline) was convicted of leading the riot and was sentenced to a year in prison. In 2007 Nigel Cliff authored “The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America.”
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1850 Jul 19
Margaret Fuller (b.1810), America’s first foreign correspondent, died aboard the Elizabeth, along with her husband and child, as the ship slammed into a sandbar less than 100 yards from Fire Island, NY. In 2012 John Matteson authored “The Lives of Margaret Fuller.”
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1851 Aug 12
Isaac Merritt Singer was granted a patent on his lockstitch sewing machine. He formed I.M. Singer & Co. in New York and soon began selling machines for $100 each. In 4 years he expanded to Scotland becoming the first American int’l. company.
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1851 Aug 22
The Schooner America, designed by George Steers, outraced the Aurora in the Solent, a stretch of sea separating the Isle of Wight from England proper, to win the Queen’s cup, a trophy that renamed as the America’s Cup. For 132 years the New York Yacht Club defeated all challengers to retain the prestigious America’s Cup, the record for the longest winning streak in sports history. The Liberty lost it to the Australia II in 1983.
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1851 Sep 18
The first edition of The New York Times was published. The New-York Times was founded by Henry J. Raymond, Republican Speaker of the NY State Assembly, and banker George Jones as a conservative counterpoint to Horace Greeley's Tribune.
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1852
J.P. Morgan’s NYC residence was completed on the corner of 37th St. and Madison Ave.
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1852
Frank Leslie's Weekly, later often known in short as Leslie's Weekly, was an American illustrated literary and news magazine founded in 1852. It continued publication to 1922.
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1853
Heinrich Steinweg founded his piano dynasty in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street three years after arriving to the US from Germany. His story is told in "The Steinway Saga: An American Dynasty" by D.W. Fostle. He later designed a piano with a heavier internal mechanism that needed to be balanced by fatter keys and thus set the standard 48-inch wide keyboard.
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1854
A US naval surgeon at the Brooklyn Navy yard perfected the manufacture of ether.
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1855
Jakob Hunzinger (1835-1898), German cabinet maker, moved to the US and opened a furniture manufacturing shop in NYC.
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1857 Aug 24
The New York branch of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Co. failed, sparking the Panic of 1857. The sharp but short 1857-58 financial crash in the US was touched off by the failure of the New York branch of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company. Over speculation in real estate and railroad securities fed the panic. Financial crashes spread to Liverpool, Glasgow, Paris, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Vienna.
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1857 Nov 7
Dennistoun, Cross and Co., an American bank with branches in Liverpool, Glasgow, New York and New Orleans, collapsed taking with it the Western Bank of Scotland with 98 branches. In the last three months of this year there were 135 bankruptcies.
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1858 Mar 31
Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen launched the SS New York, a passenger cargo vessel. It was sold to Edward Bates of Liverpool in 1874 and later wrecked near Staten Island. In 1994 Edwin Drechsel (1914-2006) later authored a 2-volume history of the North German shipping line.
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1858 Apr 28
NYC commissioners approved the “Greensward” plan for Central Park. Frederick Law Olmstead (1822-1903), the recently selected park superintendant, and landscape architect Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan. The park had first opened in 1857, on 770 acres of city owned land. Construction began in 1858 and was completed in 1873. The initial budget for the new park was $1.5 million.
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1861 Jan 17
Lola Montez (b.1821), dancer and actress, died in NYC. Born in Ireland as Eliza Rosanna Gilbert she became famous as a "Spanish dancer," courtesan, and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who made her Countess of Landsfeld.
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1863 Jul 13
Rioting against the Civil War military draft erupted in New York City; about 1,000 people died over three days. Antiabolitionist Irish longshoremen rampaged against blacks in the deadly Draft Riots in New York City in response to Pres. Lincoln’s announcement of military conscription. Mobs lynched a black man and torched the Colored Orphan Asylum. The 2003 film "Gangs of New York" focused on this event. In 2006 Barnet Schecter authored “The Devil’s Own Work,” an account of the riots.
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1864 Jan 3
John Joseph Hughes (b.1797), Irish-born Archbishop of the Catholic diocese of NY, died.
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1865
Benjamin Altman founded B. Altman & Co., a big department store at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in NYC. It expanded to a chain of stores but filed for bankruptcy in 1989.
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1867 Mar 23
Charles Deas (b.1818), American painter, died in NYC. He was noted for his oil paintings of Native Americans and fur trappers of the mid-19th century. At age 29, he went insane and lived out the rest of his life in mental institutions.
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1867
James McCreery (1826-1903) opened a silk retailing operation in NYC. Within 3 years he bought a large building on Broadway and expanded with more departments. McCreery’s close in 1953.
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1868 Jul 15
William Thomas Morton (b.1819), dentist, died in NYC. He was responsible for the first successful public demonstration of ether as an inhalation anesthetic. Morton's accomplishment was the key factor to the medical and scientific pursuit that we now refer to as anesthesiology.
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1869 May 15
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association in NYC.
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