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Book explores Dutch history of New York

Book explores Dutch history of New York

The traces left by the Dutch in New York are finally immortalized in a book.

Exploring Historic Dutch New York is a travel guide for the Dutch history of the wider New York area.

The book was edited by Gajus Scheltema and Heleen Westerhuijs, and includes chapters by 16 internationally renowned scholars exploring such topics as Dutch art and architecture, Dutch cooking in America, furniture and antiques, and many more.

Gajus and Heleen started working on the book in 2008. They share a strong enthusiasm for the Dutch heritage of the New York area. Gajus is Consul-General for the Netherlands in New York until the summer of 2011 after which he will become the Dutch ambassador to Pakistan; Heleen graduated in 17th century architecture in New Netherland. They took as their starting point the celebrations for NY 400, which commemorated Hudson’s arrival in America in 1609.

“When I arrived in the US as Consul-General four years ago, we started organizing the festivities for NY 400”, says Gajus. “These 2009 celebrations turned out very successfully, featuring for instance a large number of museum exhibitions and many other events. We donated a Pavilion designed by architect Ben Van Berkel, to the city; Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Máxima visited New York City a week long in September. It all met with great enthusiasm. Moreover, in 2009 more than 30 English language books on Dutch-American relationships were published, many of them of very high quality. However, none of those books would bring you to the Dutch legacy in a comprehensive way”

The book addresses the question: which traces of the Dutch past are still visible today?

“The legacy of the Dutch period is much larger than most people realize”, says Gajus. “We have included all famous Dutch-Colonial houses in the Hudson River Valley area, New Jersey and Delaware. It’s really worthwhile to see them. But we also documented lesser well-known houses. Many of the houses date from after the Dutch period, but continued to be built in the Dutch-Colonial style. During the Revolutionary War, for example, many people left Brooklyn for New Jersey, which now accounts for a large portion of the legacy. ”

The book provides addresses, phone numbers and opening hours of the destinations. The introduction is by Russell Shorto, author of the book “The Island at the Center of the World”, which introduced the history of New Netherland to a wider audience.

An official launch of the book is planned for June 23th, in the Museum of the City of New York, the co-publisher of the book. The following day the editors will present the book in the Netherland Club of New York.

The official website will be launched at the same time, which will contain more information about the relationship between the Netherlands and the U.S. east coast.

The book is a must-have for people who are interested in the Dutch in America and rich Dutch heritage of the New York region.

Exploring Historic Dutch New York
Editors: Gajus Scheltema & Heleen Westerhuijs
Generally available in stores from mid June
Available for pre-order on