The Short History of Downtown and Hanover Square New York as a “melting pot” goes back to Henry Hudson’s voyage – funded by the Dutch East India Company – to North America in 1608 that ended up in New York Harbor. New York City was named New Nederland and Manhattan was New Amsterdam which was its capital. New Amsterdam was cosmopolitan with 18 nationalities all valuing free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom. The West India Company in Amsterdam elected Peter Minuit as their first Governor. The Dutch settled and New Amsterdam became a thriving trading port; Peter Stuyvesant replaced Minuit as Director General.
In 1664, when the city came under British rule the name changed to New York, to honor the royal proprietor the Duke of York, later King James II.
In 1714, in honor of the accession of George I, the square was named Hanover Square echoing London’s Hanover Square.
During the American Revolution the city was occupied by the British and suffered brutally from wartime fires in 1776 and 1778.
A divided populace, a mass Tory exodus to Canada, New York’s recovery seemed in jeopardy. Figures like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr came to the forefront. The shipping industry was increasing and because New York was a great port city the population surged. New York became a booming town again; however, construction and water supply did not keep up. On a freezing December night in 1835 a fire broke out, with the East River frozen and no water to extinguish the flames, over 700 buildings burned down. The original Hanover Square was no more.