James's older brother, King Charles II of England , had appointed the Duke proprietor of the former territory of New Netherlands , including the city of New Amsterdam , which England had recently seized from the Dutch. The ice sheet scraped away large amounts of regolith , leaving the bedrock that serves as the geologic foundation for much of New York City today. Later on, movement of the ice sheet contributed to the separation of what are now Long Island and Staten Island.
Hudson's first mate described the harbor as "a very good Harbour for all windes" and the river as "a mile broad" and "full of fish. Born in Santo Domingo of Portuguese and African descent, he arrived in Manhattan during the winter of —, trapping for pelts and trading with the local population as a representative of the Dutch. Dutch rule A permanent European presence in New Netherland began in — making New York the 12th oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental United States  — with the founding of a Dutch fur trading settlement on Governors Island.
This program had little success. In —, in an effort to bolster economic growth, the Dutch West India Company relinquished its monopoly over the fur trade, leading to growth in the production and trade of food, timber, tobacco, and slaves particularly with the Dutch West Indies. During his tenure, the population of New Netherland grew from 2, to 8, He instituted regulations on liquor sales, attempted to assert control over the Dutch Reformed Church , and blocked other religious groups including Quakers , Jews , and Lutherans from establishing houses of worship.
Slavery became integrally tied to New York's economy through the labor of slaves throughout the port, and the banks and shipping tied to the American South. Discovery of the African Burying Ground in the s, during construction of a new federal courthouse near Foley Square , revealed that tens of thousands of Africans had been buried in the area in the colonial years.
The trial and acquittal in Manhattan of John Peter Zenger , who had been accused of seditious libel after criticizing colonial governor William Cosby , helped to establish the freedom of the press in North America. The Stamp Act Congress met in New York in October , as the Sons of Liberty , organized in the city, skirmished over the next ten years with British troops stationed there.
The Battle of Long Island , the largest battle of the American Revolutionary War , was fought in August within the modern-day borough of Brooklyn. After the battle, in which the Americans were defeated, the British made the city their military and political base of operations in North America. The city was a haven for Loyalist refugees and escaped slaves who joined the British lines for freedom newly promised by the Crown for all fighters.
As many as 10, escaped slaves crowded into the city during the British occupation. When the British forces evacuated at the close of the war in , they transported 3, freedmen for resettlement in Nova Scotia. They resettled other freedmen in England and the Caribbean.
The only attempt at a peaceful solution to the war took place at the Conference House on Staten Island between American delegates , including Benjamin Franklin , and British general Lord Howe on September 11, Shortly after the British occupation began, the Great Fire of New York occurred, a large conflagration on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, which destroyed about a quarter of the buildings in the city, including Trinity Church.
New York was the last capital of the U. New York interracial abolitionist activism continued; among its leaders were graduates of the African Free School.
The city's black population reached more than 16, in The completion of the Erie Canal through central New York connected the Atlantic port to the agricultural markets and commodities of the North American interior via the Hudson River and the Great Lakes. The Great Irish Famine brought a large influx of Irish immigrants, of whom over , were living in New York by , upwards of a quarter of the city's population.
In , Mayor Fernando Wood called upon the aldermen to declare independence from Albany and the United States after the South seceded, but his proposal was not acted on.
Rioters burned the Colored Orphan Asylum to the ground, with more than children escaping harm due to efforts of the New York City Police Department , which was mainly made up of Irish immigrants. McPherson , at least people were killed.
In all, eleven black men were lynched over five days, and the riots forced hundreds of blacks to flee the city for Williamsburg , Brooklyn, and New Jersey; the black population in Manhattan fell below 10, by , which it had last been in The white working class had established dominance.
The Chrysler Building is below and behind him. In , the modern City of New York was formed with the consolidation of Brooklyn until then a separate city , the County of New York which then included parts of the Bronx , the County of Richmond, and the western portion of the County of Queens. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the city became a world center for industry, commerce, and communication.
In , the steamship General Slocum caught fire in the East River , killing 1, people on board. In , the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire , the city's worst industrial disaster, took the lives of garment workers and spurred the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and major improvements in factory safety standards.
The Harlem Renaissance of literary and cultural life flourished during the era of Prohibition. The larger economic boom generated construction of skyscrapers competing in height and creating an identifiable skyline.
New York became the most populous urbanized area in the world in the early s, overtaking London. The metropolitan area surpassed the 10 million mark in the early s, becoming the first megacity in human history.