Contributed by Fred Pickhardt: The area where the World Trade Center was built has a history that dates back to the early 17th century when in 1609 Henry Hudson sailed up the the river later named in his honor. Instead of finding a northwest passage to the Pacific, Hudson found Indians that were eager to exchange beaver and otter pelts for necklaces, knives and other trinkets.
In 1613, the Van Tweenhuysen Company sent two ships to purchase furs from those Indians. They sent the Fortuyn and the Tijger to return to the river that Hudson had discovered just a few years earlier to purchase furs for the markets in Holland. During the late summer and fall of 1613 the crew of the Tijger haggled with the Indians at the south end of a large island in the great harbor. A fire broke out before the ship could depart and the crew had to beach the vessel and they watched from the shore as their ship was destroyed. The crew was able to salvage parts of the vessel and over the winter where able to construct a smaller vessel that they named the Onrust which they used to return to Europe.
Fast forward about 300 years to 1916, when construction crews digging the 7th Avenue Subway tunnel discovered some remains of an ancient ship near the present-day Cortlandt Street Station under 20 ft of landfill and silt. It was the charred remains of the Tijger,
lost three centuries earlier! Click here for a detailed account of the Tijger from naturalhistorymag.com.
The area where the World Trade Center was eventually built (around Cortlandt street and the Hudson Terminal was also once known as “Radio Row ”. Radio Row was a warehouse district that began in 1921 when Harry Schneck opened “City Radio” on Cortland Street and the district eventually grew to extend to several blocks from Cortlandt Street. By 1930, Radio Row consisted of some 40-50 stores mostly concentrated between Dey Street on the North and Cortlandt on the south.
Hudson Terminal was constructed by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad at the turn of the twentieth century and was located between Greenwich, Cortlandt, Church, and Fulton Streets. The terminal opened in 1900 and was was noted for both its architecture and engineering, said to be a marvel of its time. By 1914, passenger volume at the Hudson Terminal exceeded 30,000 annually and by 1922 was approaching 60,000. Ridership on the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad peaked in 1927 then declined steadily as automobile tunnels and bridges started to span the Hudson River.
In 1946, the New York State Legislature authorized the development of a “world trade mart” in downtown Manhattan, however, it wasn’t until 1958 that Chase Manhattan Bank vice chair David Rockefeller announced plans to build a multi-million-square-foot complex on Lower Manhattan’s east side, later changed to the the west side in the area of the old Hudson Terminal and Radio Row. Both Radio Row and the Hudson Terminal were demolished to make way for the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center PATH station replaced the Hudson Terminal and opened in 1971.
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Wiki Article: Hudson Terminal
Wiki Article: Radio Row
World Trade Center – History of the Manhattan Landmark Destroyed on September 11, 2001 By Pamela Skillings, About.com Guide
Wiki Article: Lambert Van Tweenhuysen
See also: Hudson and Manhattan railroad photo Gallery by Terence M. Kennedy