The Dutch & the English, and the Wall That Divided Them

The most famous structure built by the Dutch in New Amsterdam was the wall that gave its name to Wall Street. However, the complicated history of this fortification has been muddled by bad histories, mistakes now amplified by the internet. The recent digitization of records at the NYC Municipal Archives, and the cross-institutional collaboration of New Amsterdam Stories, allowed us to unravel the myths and truly surprising history of one complicated wall. This five-part blog series appeared in 2016 in the NYC Municipal Archives’ blog, “For the Record.” Links are below.

Part 1: Good Fences, a History of Wall Street

Many people could tell you that Wall Street received its name from the stockade fence that protected the northern edge of New Amsterdam, but persistent myths about the wall survive. Why did the Dutch really build the wall in the first place?

Part 2: A Wall by Any Other Name

One of the more common Wall Street myths circulating on the Internet is that the Dutch called the street de Waal Straat. What did the Dutch really call the wall and the street, and where was Waal Straat?

Part 3: Construction of the Wall (1653-1663)

Amsterdam in 1544, the model for New Amsterdam. Walled cities were common in Holland, and a military man such as General Stuyvesant would have been versed in their construction. How was the wall really built?

Part 4: Invasion?

In late August 1664 the residents of New Amsterdam were faced with an English invasion force. Was it truly a surprise, and did the residents really just turn the town over to the English?

Part 5: The Return of the Dutch and What Became of the Wall

What happened to the wall after 1664, and can parts of it still be found today?

NYC Municipal Archives