West India House West-Indisch Huis
former headquarters of the Dutch West India Company
In 1609 Henry Hudson, an Englishman working for a Dutch company, discovered the island of Manhattan. The Dutch decided to set up a colony there, and named it Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam, now of course New York).
The company that ran the colony, the Dutch West India Company (WIC), had its headquarters in Amsterdam. You can see that building, the West India House, at the point where the Herengracht meets the Brouwersgracht (behind the children's playground). There is a statue of the first commander of New Amsterdam, Pieter Stuyvesant*, in the courtyard.
The West India House as seen from the Haarlemmerstraat. Photo: Aleks Varnica
The basement of the building also had an important function, accommodating the Zilvervloot (silver fleet), conquered by Piet Hein in 1628 and worth approximately 11 to 15 million guilders.
The New Netherland area, which included New Amsterdam, covered parts of present-day New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey. Other settlements were established on the Netherlands Antilles, several other Caribbean islands, Suriname and Guyana.
* Stuyvesant (1592-1672) was Governor of the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam, later to be New York, from 1646-64.