Okay, so the Dutch did not really discover America. But then again neither did Christopher Columbus. America was discovered by Native Americans whom built a civilization on the continent for hundreds of years long before the White Man showed up.
But the Dutch have played an integral part in American history than has long been under-appreciated. This Fourth of July may be different as New York City will shine light on one great Dutch “discovery”…literally.
New York City is marking the 400th anniversary of the Dutch discovery of the famed Hudson River with a fireworks display over the scenic waters. In 1609, the Dutch East India Company commissioned English explorer Henry Hudson to find an elusive north-west passage to India. Hudson, like Columbus prior to him in 1492, did not find that non-existent passage but did come across a rive. His crew on the Half Moon vassal were astonished by the arable land along the river and the wildlife swimming in it. The river was eventually named after Hudson himself and a lucrative fur trade established around it.
Then the Dutch came to settle and laid the foundations for New Amsterdam. America’s great city of New York, renamed after Lord Albany or York, was settled by the Dutch.
It is deeply fitting that that New York will pay special tribute to the river and the Dutch history behind it. The Dutch themselves are officially participating in many of the events, including sending a large ship last month.
As for the state of the Hudson River. Decades of pollution have made the river and its surroundings less beautiful than the days Henry Hudson and the Half Moon sailed it. But decades of clean-up have also made it safe to swim again in it and the population of fish is being restores. I saw the largest stretches of the Hudson River last summer and it is once again a blue, beautiful river that is very tempting for a nice dive…that is if you’re outside of the city.