Albany in Albany County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Fur Trade
Why is Albany Here?
Mohawk and Mahican peoples inhabited this region for thousands of years when the Dutch ship the Half Moon dropped anchor near this spot in 1609. At that time, the world was in the midst of a "Little Ice Age,” and beaver fur could be made into much-needed warm, water-repellent hats, muffs, and collars. Beaver thrived here, and the Dutch staked claim to the bounty. They forged alliances with Native peoples and established a trade center here on the bank of the Hudson River, first at Fort Nassau in 1614 and then Fort Orange in 1624. In 1652 the village that had spread north and west of Fort Orange - today's downtown Albany - was named Beverwijck, or "Beaver District."
The Fur Trade
1. Mohawk men were the primary trappers in this region. During the winter, they spent months away from home, trapping beaver and otter. After the hunters returned home, Mohawk women scraped and processed the skins in the late winter and early spring.
2. Between May and November, traders brought the pelts eastward by canoe to today's Schenectady. From there, carrying packs of
3. In late summer, Dutch traders shipped the pelts downriver to Manhattan, where they were loaded onto ships bound for the Netherlands. In the peak years of the mid-1650s, tens of thousands of pelts were shipped from Albany annually.
4. From the Netherlands, pelts were sent to fur processors in Russia, then France or England, where they were fashioned into hats and clothing.
5. Beaver hats and clothes were exported across Eurasia and also back across the Atlantic to the Americas.
Trading Season in Beverwijck
During the summer trading season, Beverwijck swelled with visitors. Dutch traders from Manhattan and the Dutch Republic filled the many inns and taverns of early Albany.
The Mohawk and Mahican traders often slept in villagers' houses or in small outbuildings called wildenhuijsjes, meaning "little Indian houses," on villagers' properties, built especially to accommodate local traders.
Native peoples exchanged pelts for European goods, such as axes, knives, scissors, mirrors, mouth harps, shoes, and cloth, as well as beads and sewant or wampum, the shell-made currency.
Erected 2016 by Albany Cultural Heritage and Tourism Partnership, New York State Museum, Downtown Albany and SUNY
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 42° 39.005′ N, 73° 45.016′ W. Marker is in Albany, New York, in Albany County. Marker is at the intersection of Broadway and Maiden Lane, on the right when traveling north on Broadway. Marker is a composite plaque, mounted on a waist-high pole, located along the pedestrian walkway leading east from the intersection. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 445 Broadway, Albany NY 12207, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1st Telephone Central Office in New York State (within shouting distance of this marker); Building A Place to Live (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union Station (about 400 feet away); Anneke Janse Bogardus House Site (about 500 feet away); Railroads (about 500 feet away); Henry Hudson (about 600 feet away); Lydius Corner (about 600 feet away); Site of First Poor House in the United States (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Albany.
Also see . . . Fur Trade. New Netherlands Institute website entry
If it was the search for a short route to Asia that brought the Dutch to North America, it was the beaver that made them stay. In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, fur was more than a luxury: as standards of living rose, (Submitted on April 22, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 31, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 22, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 336 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 22, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 4. submitted on July 31, 2021, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.