Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam

GEOGRAPHY

A map making the rounds shows where your state’s name comes from. What are the odds that pilgrims from Plymouth, England, would land in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620?! Eh, pretty good. (Wikipedia, via the Washington Post Know More blog)

Use our resources to better understand toponymy—the study of place names.

Map by Ixnay1, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Map by Ixnay1, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Discussion Ideas

  • The song also name-checks the toponymy of the largest city in the U.S. Why do you think the name of that city is New York, and not New Amsterdam—why’d they change it? Can you say? Did people just like it better that way? (Read through the activity again!)
    • Well, the British certainly liked it better that way. The city’s name changed when British colonists overtook the Dutch settlers in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 1600s. (“Old” York is a city in England, while “Old” Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands.)

Thanks to Karen (from Penn’s woods) and Sean (from Greece-on-the-Narragansett) for the heads-up on this fun current-event connection!

One response to “Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: The City (Not Constantinople) | On (or close to) Schedule·

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