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Block 87, Lot 1

Currently known as Saint Paul’s Chapel, Manhattan, USA

Human Land Use
10,000 B.C.E. - 1626 C.E.

1626 C.E. - 2002 C.E.

5 Exchanges

(Count based on confirmed documents as of 2002.)

Click on red links below to go to pdfs of the original documents.

Major Sources:

[1] New York City Office of the Registrar of Deeds, 66 John Street, 13th Floor, Manhattan

[2] Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, Volume 6, I.N. Stokes, Martino Fine Books, The Law Book exchange, Ltd., 1998 (1915-1928).

[3] Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

[4] New York City Department of Records and Information Services Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Street, Room 103, Manhattan

Human Land Use

10,000 B.C.E. - 1626 C.E.

10,000 – 7,000 B.C.E. – The first people to arrive at the island of Manhattan appear to have been hunters who followed big game into the area as the Ice Age ended, glaciers receded, and the ocean rose. They also appear to have simply passed through the area moving south as the warming continued. [3]

5,500 B.C.E. – 1626 C.E. – A second group followed later, settling into a series of seasonal encampments at various locations throughout the region including a site just north of what is now City Hall Park (Block 122, Lot 1). Eventually known as the Lenape peoples, they consisted of about a dozen small groups who hunted small game, fished, gathered naturally occurring produce and planted small agricultural plots. Although estimates vary widely, there may have been 15,000 people in the area when Europeans first began to arrive. [3]

    The Lenapes made use of a trail whose approximate route proceeded from Bowling Green and the Battery up Broadway, turning at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street and continuing up what is currently Park Row. [3]

May-June 1626 – The First Exchange involving Europeans.

    In 1621, the States-General, the legislative body of the United Provinces of the Netherlands chartered Geoctroyerde West-Indische Compagnie, commonly known in English as the Dutch West India Company. Capitalized at 7.5 million Guilders, the Company was a corporate entity with sole Dutch rights to develop trade in West Africa and the Americas. It had its own structure of governance and its own military forces. Aside from trade, the Company was able to pay its shareholders massive dividends through the organized seizure of Spanish shipping vessels, a common practice during the seventeenth century when nations were at war. [3]

    Unlike the purchase of Staten Island, which is detailed in an August 10, 1626 deed, there is no extant document of the purchase of Manhattan. Mythology (and a second-hand hearsay account contained in a contemporaneous letter) has Dutch West India Company Director Peter Minuit purchasing, on behalf of the Company, parts of Manhattan in May-June 1626 from on-site natives later determined to be simply traveling in the area. The price was apparently similar to the Staten Island purchase - a technology transfer of “Some Duffies [duffle cloth], kittles [kettles], Axes, Hoes, Wampum, Drilling Awls, Jew’s Harps and Diverse Other Wares” worth about 60 Dutch Guilders (the proverbial $24). [3]

    Minuit likely believed he had purchased a clear, permanent deed to the land. It is unlikely that the Lenape leaders who participated in a later “re-purchase” agreement (after pointing out that the first deal was cut by non-Manhattan visitors) had any such conception of absolute property rights of the kind that Europeans had devised after a thousand years of argument, adaptations and precedents. [3]

    Manhattan Block 87 Lot 1 became part of what was known as the Bowerie (Farm) of the Dutch West India Company. The farm was laid out by Cryn Frederickson in 1625 - apparently before the purchase by Minuit. [2]

Block 87 Lot 1

1664, March - [GRANT] King Charles II of England made his younger brother, James Stuart, the Duke of York (later King James II), proprietor of most of the lands then known as New Netherland. [3]

GRANTOR: King Charles II of England
GRANTEE: James Stuart, the Duke of York (later King James II) younger brother
     of King Charles II
PRICE: 40 beaver skins per year

    The duke sent troops to seize control of New Amsterdam, taking possession of the city from the Dutch West India Company on September 8, 1664. [3]

1664, September 8 - [ARTICLES OF CAPITULATION] By the terms of the surrender, Dutch settlers were allowed to keep their “Estate, life, and liberty.” However, property owned by the Dutch West India Company eventually become property of the English Crown. Block 87 Lot 1 then became known as part of the Duke’s (after the Duke of York), the King’s (when the Duke became King James II) and the Queen’s Farm. [2][3]

GRANTOR: Dutch West India Company
GRANTEE: James Stuart, Duke of York

1697, August 19 - [LEASE] [2]

GRANTOR: New York Governor Benjamin Fletcher; Trinity Church
RENT: 60 bushels winter wheat

1705, November 23 - [GRANT] [2] Trinity Church’s title to land in Manhattan has been the subject of hundreds of years of debate with some vigorously challenging its claims. Eventually, the land will become known as Church Farm.

GRANTOR: New York Governor Viscount Cornbury
GRANTEE: Trinity Church

1713, July 13 - [GRANT] [2] The Queen of England confirms Trinity’s holdings.

GRANTOR: Queen of England
GRANTEE: Trinity Church

    Saint Paul’s Chapel built 1764-1766, architect Thomas McBean. The church closely resembles St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Church in London. [3]

    Trinity Church has held this property for over 300 years. This is the only document available from the New York City abstracts of conveyances. [1]

All Content Peter Walsh 2006
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