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New York's Top 10 : Figures in New York History - Top 10 Dates in New York History

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  1. Peter Minuit

    Sent from the Netherlands in 1626 to govern New Amsterdam, Peter Minuit (1580–1638) was so disliked by his subjects that they welcomed British occupation.

  2. Alexander Hamilton

    Revolutionary leader and first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton’s (1755–1804) business-friendly policies were instrumental in New York’s emergence as the financial center of the U.S. He lost his life in a duel with political opponent Aaron Burr and is buried in Trinity Church graveyard.

    Alexander Hamilton
  3. William “Boss” Tweed

    The political leader of Tammany Hall, Tweed (1823–78) became the living embodiment of political corruption, kickbacks, and payoffs. It is estimated that he and his associates took up to $200 million from the city. To hide his crime, he did good works, building orphanages, public baths, and hospitals, but died in prison.

  4. DeWitt Clinton

    Mayor of the city, governor of the state, and U.S. senator, Clinton (1769–1828) is best remembered for negotiating the construction of the Erie Canal in 1817–25. By connecting the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, he helped to secure New York’s future as a predominant seaport.

    DeWitt Clinton
  5. Jacob Riis

    Appalled by immigrant living conditions, Riis (1849–1914), a social reformer, writer, and photographer, used photos taken in tenements to illustrate his stories, shocking the middle class and motivating them to act. His 1888 article, Flashes from the Slums, and his book, How the Other Half Lives, brought national attention.

    Jacob Riis
  6. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

    The largess of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960) helped support housing in Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens, created Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters, and provided land for the United Nations. The construction of Rockefeller Center  employed thousands at the height of the depression and gave the city an enduring landmark.

    John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
  7. Fiorello LaGuardia

    Considered the city’s best mayor, after his election in 1933 LaGuardia (1882–1947) modernized and centralized a chaotic city government, eliminated waste, unified the transit system, and obtained federal funds to help the city. A man of the people, he is remembered for reading the comics on the radio during a city newspaper strike.

  8. Robert Moses

    As construction supervisor and parks commissioner from the 1930s–1950s, Moses (1888–1981) vastly enlarged and upgraded the city’s recreational areas, but he also covered the city with highways rather than develop a public transport system and was responsible for urban renewal projects that razed many neighborhoods in favor of high-rises.

    Robert Moses
  9. Donald Trump

    “The Donald” (b. 1946), the flamboyant real estate wheeler-dealer, has left an indelible mark on New York. The huge Trump Place development overlooks the Hudson River, while the cheapest condo in the world’s highest residential building, Trump World Tower, costs close to $1 million.

  10. Rudolph Giuliani

    Mayor Rudy Giuliani (b. 1944) is widely credited with reducing crime, making the city cleaner, and upgrading quality of life for most New York citizens during his tenure, 19932001. Once controversial for his strong personality, his leadership following the attack on the World Trade Center rallied a stunned city and won praise at home and abroad.

    Rudolph Giuliani

Top 10 Dates in New York History

  1. 1626

    Peter Minuit buys Manhattan from the natives. Beads and trinkets worth about $24 accomplished this ultimate real estate deal.

  2. 1664

    The British take Manhattan from the Dutch. New Amsterdam becomes New York.

  3. 1789

    George Washington is inaugurated as first president and takes his oath of office in Federal Hall. New York serves as the first U.S. capital.

  4. 1792

    New York Stock Exchange opens; 24 traders sign an agreement beneath a tree on Wall Street, and the city becomes a financial center.

  5. 1859

    Central Park opens and the city gains a green center enjoyed by millions every year.

  6. 1886

    The Statue of Liberty is unveiled, becoming the symbol of freedom for millions of immigrants, who form a “melting pot” of nationalities.

  7. 1898

    The five boroughs unite to form New York, the world’s second largest city.

  8. 1931

    The Empire State Building establishes New York as the world’s skyscraper capital.

  9. 1952

    The city becomes home to the United Nations headquarters.

  10. 2001

    Terrorists use hijacked planes to destroy the towers of the World Trade Center.

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