Where the heart is

According to Gotham Unbound (http://www.amazon.com/Gotham-Unbound-Ecological-History-Greater/dp/1476741247), a book that I sadly didn’t have time to finish before it had to go back to the library and which I will hopefully pick up and finish again later, there’s something unusual about the way the Dutch settled in the area near New Amsterdam: unlike the English, they were drawn to swamps. Their settlement on the tip of Manhattan was in an area which the Mohawk called “the place of reeds”; a swampy bit at the end of the island. Breucklen was a swamp. Vlissingen (later Flushing) was a swamp until relatively recently. Nieuw Harlem was a swamp. Nieu Dorp, near Great Kills, was a swamp.

There’s something so predictable about this that I should have expected it and feel silly for not realizing it: the Dutch, like the English, and like the Swedes centuries later, looked for land that reminded them of home. It’s just that ‘home’ for the Dutch and ‘home’ for the English looked nothing like one another.


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