Posts Tagged ‘Wouter van Twiller’

The many names given to Roosevelt Island

September 26, 2009

Has any borough, neighborhood, or stretch of land in New York City been renamed as many times as Roosevelt Island has over its 400-year history?

Called Minnahanock by the Canarsie Indians, tribal leaders sold the he two-mile long island to Dutch governor Wouter van Twiller in 1637. Now part of New Amsterdam, it was renamed Varcken (Hog) Island for the pigs the Dutch raised there.

Rooseveltisland

[The island formerly known as Welfare, in a 1940s postcard.]

In 1666, with the English now in control, the island fell into the hands of Captain John Manning and was renamed Manning’s Island. Twenty years later Manning’s son-in-law, Robert Blackwell, inherited the island. He decided it was now Blackwell’s Island.

The city of New York bought the island in 1828 for $32,500, building hospitals, poorhouses, and prisons on what was formerly farmland. The Blackwell name officially endured until 1921, when it got another moniker: Welfare Island.

Finally, in 1973, with plans to turn the island into a mostly residential neighborhood, the city renamed it Roosevelt Island. Lets hope this one lasts!