de Waal Straat

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In 1652 during the Anglo-Dutch Wars, hostilities between England and the Netherlands spilled over into North America. The Dutch settlers of Manhattan Island, called New Amsterdam at the time, feared England was planning to attack and constructed a wooden wall as defense.

Costing the settlement 5,000 guilders and constructed from 15-foot planks and dirt, the wall was 2,340 feet long and nine feet tall. It featured cannons and spanned between two gates, one located at what is now the corner of Wall Street and Pearl Street, and the other on Wall Street. and Broadway. Called “de Waal Straat,” the earthen part of the structure came from earlier fortifications built to defend against possible attacks by Native Americans and pirates. The labor on the wall is believed to have been performed by slaves.

After a half century, the wall fell into disrepair and was slated for demolishment but was instead restored in 1693 in fear of a French invasion. It was finally demolished in 1699.

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