We will be running several installments of the 5 Most Intriguing Historical Facts About New York City for our Top Tuesday’s. We thought it would be interesting to see just how many facts are out there about different New York City neighborhoods that perhaps the average New Yorker or soon-to-be New Yorker might not even know about. If you already knew them comment below!
1. As the young American nation began to mature economically in the late 18th century, traders and brokers would gather under a Buttonwood tree on Wall Street to informally discuss business and commerce. In 1792, the meetings were formalized under the Buttonwood Agreement, which officially established the New York Stock Exchange.
2. On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of the United States and the former Secretary of Treasury battled Vice President, Aaron Burr, in a legendary duel. Hamilton and Burr were both political and personal enemies and sought to have a duel in order to solve their differences. Burr fatally shot Hamilton on dueling grounds in Weehawken, New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York City. Hamilton was brought to Manhattan after the duel, where he died of severe injuries the following day.
3. Ever wonder how Manhattan acquired the name “Gotham City”? The legendary nickname goes way back before the days of Bruce Wayne and the Bat signal. The city was first referred to as “Gotham” by native New York author, Washington Irving, in his 1809 satirical masterpiece, A History of New York.
4. In 1810, 16-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt bought a used sailboat with $100 he had borrowed from his mother. He proceeded to establish his own business – a ferry service from his home on Staten Island to Manhattan. Vanderbilt ultimately became a wildly successful business tycoon; his net worth exceeded $100 million at the time of his death in 1877.
5. DeWitt Clinton, the descendant of Dutch settlers, served at the mayor of New York City from 1793 to 1815. In 1811, Clinton developed the famous grid that formed the 12 avenues and 155 streets across the island of Manhattan. Essentially, Clinton designed Manhattan as we know it today.