15 January 2008

Proof the Dutch Once Owned Our Asses


I've always found it amusing and improbable that this great City was founded by the Dutch. The English Empire is easy enough a one-time reality to grasp for anyone who grew up in the 20th century; it held on until just after World War II. But the Dutch? That puny, waterlogged country was once a world power? How the fuck did they pull that off, with their canals and wooden shoes and neck ruffs?

Proof that the mighty Netherlands was not a joke back in the 1600s can be found in Flatbush, in the graveyard surrounding the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church. The church is 211 years old, and it is actually the third house of worship to be built on this spot. The first was erected in 1654 by mandate of Peter-freaking-Stuyvesant.

Many of the headstones are so old that their chiseled messages are in Dutch. No English, my Yankee friend, but Dutch, the bygone mother tongue. The one below begins "Here Lies Buried..."

9 comments:

Peter said...

Heck, the Dutch controlled Indonesia, a huge country with many times Holland's population, until only about 60 years ago.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

One watery nation deserves another.

gothambaby said...

Read the wonderful book, The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto (or even the commentary on Amazon) and you'll realize that much of what makes us proudest of our city orignated with the Dutch. Not to mention the names of many of our boros, streets and other place names.

C. Wehberg

roos said...

Island@Center is a great book. Really makes you appreciate the Manhattan colony as the model for the US. Consider all the English colonies were staffed by racist puritanical bigots who wanted little enclaves of their own to find their own super special jeebus, then consider Manhattan, founded on commerce and multicultural since day one. American ideals are based not on the puritans, but the dutch -free commerce and inclusion. Now if only we could get hookers and pot legal again we'd be all set.

Maarten said...

Some beautiful examples of Dutch heritage in New York.

Brooklyn -> Breukelen. Small village south east of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Harlem -> Haarlem. Capital of the province 'Noord Holland'. One of the 12 regions in the Netherlands.

The Dutch believe that New York was traded for Surinam in South America but in fact the British kicked the Dutch out in 1664 and transformed New Amsterdam and the greater area of New Netherlands in to New York.
The first part of the 17th century the Dutch were the dominating the world in economic and naval power. The take over by the British was symbolic for the decline of the power of the Netherlands and the transition towards the domination of the British in the 18th and 19th century.

Maarten said...

By the way, pot is not legal in the Netherlands, it is tolerated. The idea is that you can't ban the trade and consumption of pot, but you also can't make it legal because of international anti-drugs laws. So you tolerate it. It is not conform the other parts of the legal system.
It is legal to go to a prostitute in the Netherlands, but local government is closing a lot on brothels because the pimps are still operating in illegal ways (women trade, exploitation etc.)

AnyKey said...

The world is still more or less owned by the Yankee-English-Dutch empire ... so I'm told ...

Anonymous said...

So... if New York was once Dutch, perhaps instead of the "Big Apple", it coul dhave been called the "Big Orange"!

Scott of Canada said...

So had the Dutch continued to own New York, perhaps the "Big Apple" would have been called the "Big Orange"!