'Staaten Eylandt' and Other Awesome Spellings on Original Maps of New Netherland

A look at early renderings of the U.S. East Coast, courtesy of the Dutch.

Library of Congress

It's been 392 years since the Dutch West India Company received its charter for the "New Netherland," a colony that stretched from current day Delaware to Albany, New York. 

Three years later, ships delivered the first wave of settlers, livestock and supplies to New Netherland. In 1625, settlers began construction on Fort Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan, later renamed New Amsterdam after Peter Minuit chose the site as New Netherland's capital.

Due to poor living conditions, the total population of New Netherland was only about 300 as of 1630, with 270 people, mostly farmers, living in Fort Amsterdam, and 30 more living in Fort Orange (Albany, New York), the center of the Hudson Valley fur trade.

Unlike most "new world" colonies at the time, the area was thoroughly documented through maps. The Dutch were Europe's pre-eminent cartographers during the 17th century, using detailed maps and plans to accompany the Dutch West India Company's frequent censuses.

The Dutch legacy can be seen in names that linger even today. Staten Island was called Staaten Eylandt during its New Netherland days, and the Dutch word for corner, hoek, can be seen in names like Red Hook (in Brooklyn) and Sandy Hook (in New Jersey). Kils, the Dutch word for streams, can be found in names like the Schuylkill river and Catskill, New York.

Below, courtesy the Library of Congress, a look at some of the maps:

1639 map of New Netherland. Courtesy Library of Congress.

1639 map of New Netherland. "Shows the Hudson River from Manhattan Island to Albany, natural features, and other geographical entities in the region." Courtesy Library of Congress.

1639 map of New Netherland. Courtesy Library of Congress.

1685 map of New Netherland. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Top image: 1664 illustration of New Netherland courtesy the Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.

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