What was the economy of New York like in the 1600s??

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

New York, both during the Dutch phase of the colony (which lasted until 1664) and the English phase (which began in 1664), exported agricultural products and natural resources. The economy was based on shipping and the exportation of furs and timber. In addition, industries based in New York manufactured products from iron ore, including plows, kettles, locks, and nails, for export to Europe. 

Farms in New York were often small and consisted of about 50 to 150 acres. The Middle Colonies, including New York, were regarded as the "bread basket" of the colonies and produced crops such as wheat that was ground into flour and exported to England. The colony also produced corn and products such as beef and pork, as well as textiles from flax and hemp. Under the Dutch, the port of New York (then called New Amsterdam) was founded at the tip of Manhattan to defend the fur operations of the Dutch West India Company. The economy flourished, and the population of the city quickly grew to 2,000 people by 1665. The city, whose economy was based on the fur trade, was incredibly diverse, as the Dutch permitted immigration of many types of people, including Jews.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

maj524 | Student

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.