Manhattan, the "Hilly Island" of Algonquin origin, has a history marked by change and innovation. In the 17th century, the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam flourished into a modern community boasting cobblestone streets, fire and police patrols, a hospital, and a protective stone wall along what is now Wall Street.
After the English took control in 1664, the young city was renamed New York, with its northern boundary just beyond Chambers Street. A busy commercial thoroughfare, Maiden Lane was clogged with carts transporting grain from ships on the East River to a windmill near the Hudson. The windmill was New York's first skyline element, and today the centerpiece of the New York City seal.
From 1785 to 1790, New York became the capital of the United States following the American Revolution. On the site where Federal Hall now stands, George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States. Three years later in 1792, the nation's first stock exchange opened a few steps away.
New York continued to innovate in the next century, with the completion in 1883 of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge at the time. Ellis Island opened in 1892 as a gateway to the United States for immigrants from around the world.
In the early 1900s, modern skyscraper technology began to transform the Lower Manhattan skyline, with the Woolworth Building (completed 1913) and the Municipal Building (completed 1914) representing two of the most beautiful examples from the period. Wall Street financial firms cemented their place as world leaders even as Midtown developed as a central business district and industries such as shipping and manufacturing left their downtown locations.
The skyscraper boom continued through the middle of the century with the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank headquarters from 1957 to 1961, which helped to spur the transformation of Lower Manhattan into a center of financial services and related industries. The skyward advance in Lower Manhattan culminated in completion of the World Trade Center in 1970 by the Port Authority.
Today, in the aftermath of September 11, Lower Manhattan's resurgence is well underway, as we work toward the creation of a permanent memorial honoring those who were lost while affirming our strength and democratic values. Downtown communities will continue to evolve as residential, cultural and commercial space is developed and supported. Our rich and diverse downtown has seen tragedy, but it will continue to triumph, as it has throughout history.