New York Harbor was discovered by Italian Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524. Henry Hudson, an Englishman, sailed up the Hudson River in 1609. The Dutch would found the first permanent trading post in 1624 and then two years later, the first governor, Peter Minuit, would buy Manhattan from the Native Americans.
The Dutch would build New Amsterdam on Manhattan's southern tip. New Amsterdam flourished by selling otter, beaver and mink skins. In the middle of the 17th century, New Amsterdam was still just a relatively small town with roughly 15,000 inhabitants. Some of these were farmers who cultivated land in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Dutch word Bouwerie means farm and that is where the Bowery gets its name. Other inhabitants during this period included Walloons from Belgium along with French and English people.
A wall was built across the island of Manhattan in 1653 in order to protect New Amsterdam. The street next to the wall was called Wall Street.
Peter Stuyvesant would become New Amsterdam's governor in 1647. Stuyvesant was able to create a municipal government for the colony based on cities in Holland but his strict style of leadership quickly alienated the inhabitants. An English fleet arrived in 1664 and Stuyvesant surrendered to prevent them from sacking the colony. The colony would be recaptured by the Dutch in 1673 but surrendered to the English again in 1674. It was renamed New York in the Duke of York's honor. At the start of the 18th century, New York's population had risen to 5,000 and was growing rapidly. The population would be 25,000 by 1776 and 60,000 by 1800.
Milling with windmills was New York's main industry during the 18th century and there were merchants training with Britain and the West Indies. Along with this, there was shipbuilding with the first shipyard being opened in 1720.
The New York Gazette was New York's first newspaper and it started publication in 1725. The first theater opened its doors in 1732 and in 1754, Kings College was founded. George Washington withdrew from New York leaving it to the British army in 1776. In that same year, New York suffered a great fire that destroyed roughly a quarter of the city. The British would continue occupying the city until the war's end. Washington would reenter the city in 1783.
Up until 1807, New York's growth was haphazard. In 1807, a commission appointed by the governor came up with a plan for the city that involved laying the streets out in a grid pattern. By 1820, New York was the largest city in the country and had a population of 123,000. That number would grow to 312,000 by 1840 and 813,000 by 1860.
In 1863, the city was rocked by the draft riots, which occurred because of a new conscription law. The United States Immigration Station opened on Ellis Island in 1892 and almost 17 million immigrants would pass through it before its closure in 1954. The end of the 19th century also marked the move by many black Americans to Harlem. The 20th Century would see the city's population grow to 7 million. There would also be the construction of many of the city's most famous buildings including the Flatiron Building (1902) and the New York Public Library (1911). The World Trade Center's twin towers would open in 1973. In 2001, the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack.