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Happy Birthday: New York Turns 350 Years Old

On Sept 8., 2014, New York City is celebrating its official 350th birthday. The date marks the time when officials renamed the city with its current title. Before then, they had called the city New Amsterdam; a name that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

New York City
New York City

As with all great stories from history, this one starts with a conflict. In 1664, English soldiers invaded the then Dutch city of New Amsterdam. The English people were keen to expand their already massive empire and so wanted the city and region for part of their land mass. The conflict itself was quite mild, though, and few people lost their lives. In fact, over the course of just 13 days the Dutch surrendered the land. Next the English renamed the city New York after the king’s brother, the Duke of York. Now we mark the 350 years that have passed since the birth of what is now the greatest city in the world.

What we should be celebrating as a huge milestone, though, we are ignoring. The reasons for this fact are unclear. It would appear that no one in the city has made any plans by way of parades or parties to commemorate the date. That in itself may be due to the way in which the city came to be. But when has that stopped anyone from having a party? Many of the days we celebrate are anniversaries of conflict and wars. So why are officials choosing to ignore this particular date? Back in 1914, nobody celebrated the 250th birthday of New York City. It is no surprise then, that the city has also forgotten its most recent birthday.

Over the years (all 350 of them), the cityscape has changed by drastic measures. From the building of some of the well-known landmarks to the birth of districts such as Clinton / Hell’s Kitchen, the city has grown. Now the city takes the title of the most powerful city in the world, with some of the key advancements of our time coming out of the region. Many of the American power companies and big brands use New York as their base. There is no denying that the city has both power and prestige. For a young city, the place has fast become mighty.

The as yet short history of New York is rich and dark. From the great depression of the 1900’s to the horrific scenes of 9/11, the city has seen its fair share of drama and conflict. During the second world war, New York was a key supplier of arms and materials to the western world. Some historians even believe that without NYC’s aid the wars outcome may have been different. During the 20th and 21st century, the city has been a haven to many of the world’s immigrants. The fact has meant that the city is now as diverse as it is large. Different districts have become home to plenty of different nationalities. That has meant that the city has grown with its people and found an individual niche, unlike many other western cities.

Whilst the officials of the city are not celebrating the landmark birthday, we should acknowledge the date. It’s important to remember how the city came to be what it is today. The historic events that lead up to the city’s birth were integral to scoping America as it stands now. Educating children on the history of America is vital so that we can keep the rich heritage that our ancestors created. It might not be the idyllic fairy tale that we’d like it to be, but it is the truth. Without this history, we might as well not exist at all.


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