The Origins of New York City

Ben Pike
2 min readApr 5, 2023

An alumnus of Georgetown University, Benjamin “Ben” Pike is an experienced New York-based private equity investor with a focus on infrastructure, energy, renewables, and sustainability. Previously, he served at Ares Management as a principal, originating and structuring transactions for private equity investments. Outside of work, Ben Pike is interested in the history of New York City.

New York City was originally called New Amsterdam. The Dutch were the first Europeans to establish a colony in the region. Peter Minuit, the governor of the Dutch West India Company, “acquired” the island of Manhattan in 1626 from Native Americans and subsequently established a colony named New Amsterdam. Through the profitable fur trade with the indigenous tribes in the area, the colony flourished.

On August 27th, 1664, Richard Nicolls, a cavalry commander and trusted subordinate of the Duke of York, arrived at New Amsterdam with English warships carrying soldiers. He demanded the city’s surrender in a letter to Stuyvesant, promising to protect the freedom of those who accepted English rule. Last Dutch Governor Stuyvesant initially refused and prepared to resist, but few of the city’s inhabitants were willing to fight. New Amsterdam eventually surrendered to the English, and Stuyvesant swore allegiance to the Crown. The Treaty of Westminster in 1674 resulted in the transfer of Manhattan Island to the English. The English renamed it New York City after the Duke of York upon the transfer.

During the American War of Independence, New York State was the site of multiple battles. Independent militias clashed with British forces and spurned hostilities in 1775, leading to the U.S. declaring independence in 1776. Congress convened in New York City in 1789, electing George Washington president. New York City then served as the federal capital for one year until the seat was relocated to Washington, D.C.

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Ben Pike
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A New York, New York-based private equity investor and executive, Ben Pike serves as a Principal at Ares Management.