August 27, 2014

If you’re celebrating anything and everything before the end of summer this week, we have another for you to throw on the pile: New York City’s 350th birthday party!

English: Bird's eye panorama of Manhattan & Ne...
Bird’s eye panorama of Manhattan & New York City in 1873 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What, you didn’t buy a gift?

Well, you can keep that credit card in your wallet, as very few folks will be celebrating what we might expect to be quite a historic milestone for our area. It turns out that Americans aren’t big on breaking out the bubbly to mark the arrival of the British, regardless of how many centuries have passed.

As the piece explains, no major events are planned for the city on this particular birthday. Some would argue that 1664 has no business even being recognized as the city’s DOB. These folks would instead direct us to 1625, and the settlement of a sleepy little Dutch outpost called New Amsterdam, on the land where now some of the world’s most crucial financial players ply their trade.

One way or another, there’s not a lot of birthday cake being passed around on either occasion.

An interesting side-note in this history lesson – and one more closely related to our profession – is just how crucial a role the East coast’s ports and waterways played in the ownership and development of our region.

If you read all the way through the New York Times article linked earlier, you’ll notice that the British takeover of New Amsterdam was largely achieved by leveraging their increasingly powerful naval influence at key points along the Hudson River and Verrazano Narrows. The battle was a bloodless one, in part due to the declining power of the Dutch incumbents, but also because the Brits found a way to control these key entry and exit points to the city.

Even today, with air travel dominant and the car as the main mode of transport to traverse the country, ports on the East and West coasts dominate the decisions made by supply chain planners. For sheer size of volume and cost-effectiveness, it’s hard to beat the power of a ship coming into port.

Whether the British knew this 350 years ago, or simply got lucky with one of many imperial “acquisitions” is up for debate. What’s completely certain is that they won’t be invited back for a party!