When New York was originally created as New Netherland, its economy was based on fur trading at first. At that point, the Dutch were trading with Native Americans for furs. After a while, there came to be more of an emphasis on Dutch settlers who would be farmers. This move towards an agricultural economy caused conflict with the Indians whose lands were needed for farms.
After the British took control of New York, it continued to be a colony whose economy ran mostly on agriculture. The British continued the Dutch system in which a few large landowners had huge grants of land that they controlled like feudal fiefs. The produce from these huge estates came through New York City, which was already becoming an important center for trade.
The economy of New York, then, was mainly agricultural for much of the 1600s with produce from large estates being traded through New York City.
Colonists made their living in a variety of ways: fur trapping, lumber trading, shipping, the slave trade, and as merchants and tradesmen in the colony's towns.
Most colonists were farmers, who cleared large acres of land by hand to grow crops. Corn was the most popular, since it could be eaten by people and animals. Also grown were flax, wheat, vegetables, and tobacco. Some colonists mined for iron to send to England for manufacturing into finished goods.
A century after colonization began in the North American English colonies, they had developed an economy based on the export and imports between themselves and Europe and the Caribbean. New York ultimately became the center of this commerce.