A Ranger Story
Nieuw Amsterdam to New York
Listen to the story—now available in its entirety—of how the mighty metropolis of New York arose, as told by park historian Steve Laise.
You'll start your journey on the other side of the world with the Dutch East India Company, join Henry Hudson in his quest for a Northwest Passage and end up on the southern tip of Manhattan with Peter Minuit. Then, in Part 2, you'll hear how the city's residents prospered, rebelled against a tyrannical director-general, and won! The story concludes with the British takeover in Part 3, where you'll learn that despite the change in name and rule, Dutch principles of tolerance and civil liberties survived to shape the city of New York even to this day.
Click the "play" button below to listen to the full story or use the title drop-down menu to select an individual episode.
Walk The New Amsterdam Trail...
through Lower Manhattan with our free downloadable map and audio narration featuring commentary by Russell Shorto, author of the bestselling book, The Island at the Center of the World, and other prominent historians and scholars.
Steve Laise is Chief of Cultural Resources for the National Parks of New York Harbor, Manhattan Sites. He is informally known as the park historian.
About his job -- and the path that took him there -- Steve has this to say:
In my case, a life-long interest in history began with my grandfather. I lived in Washington, D. C. and my grandparents were in nearby Fairfax County, Virginia. As my grandfather and I walked the Manasses battlefield, his description of the first battle of the Civil War almost came to life before my eyes. What an interpreter! When we got to Henry House Hill, he made me see General Jackson standing "like a stone wall." I was entranced. My grandfather also had an extensive library of American History which he encouraged me to try to read. Many of those great books were far above my "reading level" but I got the idea that all of them contained exciting stories like he had told me.
In college at William & Mary my major was in philosophy. My graduate work at Penn and teaching job were in philosophy as well. However, I never lost my initial fascination with the "stories" of history. So, I turned to the history museum field and started as director of education at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia. That position evolved into a combination of curatorial and interpretive responsibility for museum exhibits. This allowed me to connect the exciting stories with real historic objects and images. What could be better?
I've now been with the National Park Service for eighteen years, all in the New York City parks. Although my job titles have changed from time to time, I have always been able to do the research, utilize the collections, and present our part of our common American history to the public. I think that our history is the "glue" that binds us together as a people, whether our families have been here for generations, or we have only just arrived. Our history is a complex mosaic, lightened by idealism but also darkened by occasions of our failure to match those ideals. In either case, it is filled with great stories!