Fort Amsterdam Historical Marker
Located on the southeast corner of the building at 1 Broadway, this plaque commemorates the history of Fort Amsterdam, which was located here and served as the command center for Dutch, and subsequent British, rule in New York. Construction of the fort began in 1625 and marks one of the central events in the establishment of Nieuw Amsterdam, the community that later became New York. The fort was a strategic stronghold to protect movement up the Hudson River. It was torn down after the Revolutionary War ended and was later the site of homes, a hotel, and then this modern structure in 1920.
Backstory and Context
Fort Amsterdam has undergone several name changes and uses, but it laid the foundation for one of the most populated and well-known cities in modern America. In 1620, the Dutch drew up plans for the fort. They needed a fortification to protect Manhattan, then part of New Amsterdam—modern day New York, and activities up the Hudson River. Ironically, the Dutch relied on plans created by a British architect to construct the fort. The fort was to be star-shaped, surrounded by a moat, and house an expansive array of weaponry.
The fort changed hands eight times throughout its history. The Dutch built and maintained the fort from 1625 to 1664. They used it to defend the New Netherlands colony up the Hudson River, since the British also claimed the land and conducted fur trading activities in the area. However, in 1664 the British forced the surrender of the fort, and occupied it for about 10 years. The British changed the name to Fort James, and renamed New Amsterdam “New York”. Consequently, the British and Dutch continued to fight over the fort until the American Revolution. The fort was finally taken under the leadership of George Washington in 1775.
Fort Amsterdam no longer stands, and its surroundings are vastly different. In its early years, Fort Amsterdam stood out among the New Amsterdam (Manhattan) wilderness. Some information indicates that the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House sits on the location where Fort Amsterdam was. Additionally, when the fort stood on Manhattan Island, it was on the shore. This changed when projects were undertaken to fill in the coast areas with dirt.
RootsWeb Genealogical Data Cooperative. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/.
"The History." Fort Amsterdam. May 14, 2008. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://fortamsterdam.wordpress.com/the-history/.
"Fort Amsterdam." NEW YORK CITY looking back. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://newyorklookingback.blogspot.com/2012/09/fort-amsterdam.html.