May 22, 2012 | Dutch
I check out a new Dutch New York guidebook.
The Museum of the City of New York published a new guidebook not long ago, entitled Exploring Historic Dutch New York. It covers the region, not just New York City, and is a nice addition to my collection of local guides.
A New(ish) Guidebook from the Museum of the City of New York
I’m a little busy at present working on the Language-Learning Product Reviews section for this site, so I haven’t done much touring around town recently. But over the weekend I thought, I should look at some Dutch stuff.
I wanted to go take some pictures of things (signs, etc.) with Dutch or Dutch influence in them, and was thinking I should probably take a trip to one of the boroughs or at least to Lower Manhattan. Then I looked in the guidebook and realized I was in the midst of Dutch-related things.
Like Amsterdam Avenue, for example, which runs the length of the Upper West Side (depending on how you define the neighborhood’s boundaries). It’s funny how one stops noticing origins of things after living with them for a long time.
And then of course there are various businesses using the Amsterdam name, including Amsterdam Ale House, where my running team sometimes has brunches after road races in Central Park. I have seen “Amsterdam” in the name so many times that the word ceased to have any Dutch meaning for me…until I stopped and thought a moment, that is.
Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side
My Running Team Sometimes Has Brunches Here
Walking just a couple of blocks from the Amsterdam Ale House, I reached another Upper West Side reminder of our Dutch past: the West End Collegiate Church, on West End Avenue and West 77th, alongside Collegiate School, the country’s oldest independent school. Some years ago my husband and I lived next door to Collegiate, but I never really paid attention to the Dutch aspect of its history or the church’s.
According to my new guide, this is one of the four Collegiate Churches around town descending from the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam.
The Dutch Past of Church and School
West End Collegiate Church
“At West End Collegiate Church,” I read, “these [Dutch] origins are evident in the architecture. Built in the Colonial Revival style, its step gables were modeled after a 1606 building, the meat market (Vleeshal) in the Dutch town of Haarlem. West End Collegiate Church also boasts stained-glass windows and plaques that commemorate its links with The Netherlands and the House of Orange.”
Collegiate’s website offers the following historical information: “Tracing its origins to 1628, the school was established by the Dutch West India Company and the Classis of Amsterdam, the parent ecclesiastical body of the Dutch Reformed Church for the colonists of New Amsterdam. Only once in more than three centuries were the school’s doors closed. When the British occupied the city during the American Revolution, most of the Dutch, including the schoolmaster and the students, had to leave the city.”
Orange-Clad People, Heading to Koninginnedag Celebration
Here is one final sign of Dutchness around town, not from my neighborhood.
This is a belated picture I took on the eve of Koninginnedag, a national holiday in the Netherlands that is also celebrated with great energy in New York and other places around the globe. It fell on April 30 this year. I gather the holiday is Queen Beatrix’s “official celebration day” (Wikipedia’s term, anyway), but I’m afraid I know about it myself mostly just from seeing people in orange clothing.
Since Manhattanites’ favorite clothing color is black, the Koninginnedag celebrants tend to stand out, even glowing a bit at night!