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Saturday 23 August  
Manhattan goes orange
Philip Smet's picture
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New York, United States of America
New York, United States of America

Manhattan goes orange

Published on : 5 September 2009 - 9:00pm | By Philip Smet
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By the end of this week, every New Yorker should know that Amsterdam and the Netherlands played a pivotal role in founding their city. A major theatre festival and a Dutch royal visit are designed to help. The festivities around New York’s 400th anniversary are approaching their climax.

At 9:15 on Tuesday morning, New York will be rocked by a number of gun salutes. Afterwards, an impressive armada of Dutch ships will sail along the southern tip of Manhattan including naval vessels and historical sailing ships.

Four hundred years ago, Captain Henry Hudson sailed the Halve Maan (Half Moon) to this little island, then inhabited by Native Americans. In the decades that followed, the Netherlands set up the colony of New Amsterdam.

Cultural present
The Dutch armada marks the beginning of a busy week. Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima are travelling to New York. They will visit a major theatre festival on Governor’s Island, a islet off Manhattan’s southern tip. The festival is a cultural present from the Netherlands to New Yorkers.

Dutch Theatre Institute Co-ordinator, Henk Scholten says “We’re staging a festival with about 35 to 50 performances a day, involving about 200 people. There’s serious theatre performed by groups such as De Veenfabriek and Toneelgroep Amsterdam, but there are also open-air shows. Then, there are also fun things like Jacob and the performing cow. We hope New Yorkers will find the combination of all sorts of theatre, lots of open-air, informal stuff, with eating and drinking, something new.”

Overestimated
The New Amsterdam Pavilion will be unveiled in Battery Park where the Staten Island ferry docks. It’s in Pierre Minuit Plaza, named after the Belgian man who, on behalf of the Dutch settlers, negotiated with the Native Americans on the sale of Manhattan.

Some people in Belgium think the Netherlands overestimates its role in the affair. American Russell Shorto has written a book on the history of New York. He says the Netherlands is entitled to blow its own trumpet.

“Of course, there were other colonies, the English for example, but it’s a simple fact that New York was founded by the Dutch. In the 16th century many European refugees came to Manhattan via the Netherlands. You found the mixed population and the Dutch tolerant atmosphere, especially that of Amsterdam, in the US. When the English took Manhattan, they held on to the Dutch system because it worked well. And also to the Dutch way of trading, with free trade and shares, was maintained in New York. These are Dutch roots."

The organisers of the New Island Festival are expecting thousands of visitors, says Henk Scholten.

"Governor's Island is a popular New York attraction: in actual fact it is a park you can get to by ferry in 8 minutes for free. Part of the visitors come especially for the festival, but of course some people will accidentally stumble upon it. Therefore a large number of the performances are free."

Any New Yorkers who don’t go to the festival won’t be able to steer clear of the Netherlands, because on Tuesday the Empire State Building will be bathed in orange light.

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john100 2 October 2010 - 9:39am / pakistan

too bad that the Dutch Government JK0-016 and Industrie missed the oppotunity to show New Yorkers what the Netherlands anno 2009 really is. Instead they came with kaas, klompen HP2-H08 en klederdracht to promote their existance. No High tech examples of Holland as one of the forerunners in the world. In the Efteling-look-alike New Amsterdam Village was the only information 000-966 about the Dutch history on Manna-hata free provided by me: copies of a map from New Amsterdam in 1660, projected in the '09 Manhattan. Also no information about the huge Dutch fleet that sails around Battery JN0-202 Park shore line. Except, again, thanks a mini poster with all the participating ships that I specially created for this event. Jos Ruks papersails@maine.rr.com

lucia_wo 3 July 2010 - 3:41am / USA

I'm sure a lot of people will have an appreciation for the Dutch after today's World Cup game! The New Amsterdam Pavilion is in a great area in Battery City. There are a bunch of new construction building that have made that area very special.

Ned 27 September 2009 - 12:39am
This was a watershed event for me personally, having grown in the NY area and later on in life having become a true a lover of the Netherlands culture. I very much enjoyed the audio tour that was provided via the park service, and was both amazed at how small the New Amsterdam colony really was and that I could still sometimes imagine the scene described despite the dramatic difference from today's viewpoint. I approached "the city" (as we call it here), from Staten Island. It was so cool to see all of the Dutch nomenclature that has survived there. Peter Stuyvesant is alive and well on Staten Island! Let's have a 401 celebration, it's the next best thing to being in beautiful Holland.
bill parsons 9 September 2009 - 10:05pm
The last line in the article is misleading. The Dutch hired the empire state building lights for one night only. Tonight, wednesday, the lights will be pink and white in honor of Susan Komen. And on Friday it will be red, white and blue in remembrance on 11 september.
Jonathan Marks 9 September 2009 - 10:56am
I went to the evening in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam held as one of the festivities in the 400 anniversary. It was a rather strange produced conversation with some people from the audience having been primed to ask some questions of the scholars in the front. NPR was there with a very weak story. But the Native Americans who were in attendance triumphed at the end by pointing out that they hadn't been discovered by Englishman Hudson - because they had been there for 2000 years. They thanked the Dutch for their contribution to their history and said they were the most reliable of Europeans when it came to trading. As Jos Ruks points out above, I hope there is going to be a proper review of how 16 million euros have been spent on this PR extravaganza which looks like a firework display...here today and forgotten tomorrow. It has done little to promote a realistic image of Amsterdam-New York relations. An opportunity missed.
Jos Ruks 7 September 2009 - 6:52pm
too bad that the Dutch Government and Industrie missed the oppotunity to show New Yorkers what the Netherlands anno 2009 really is. Instead they came with kaas, klompen en klederdracht to promote their existance. No High tech examples of Holland as one of the forerunners in the world. In the Efteling-look-alike New Amsterdam Village was the only information about the Dutch history on Manna-hata free provided by me: copies of a map from New Amsterdam in 1660, projected in the '09 Manhattan. Also no information about the huge Dutch fleet that sails around Battery Park shore line. Except, again, thanks a mini poster with all the participating ships that I specially created for this event. Jos Ruks papersails@maine.rr.com

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