All the area north of what is now 59th Street was called “Muscoota” by the Manhattan Indians. Muscoota means “flat place”. This flat place was good for growing food and this is why many of the Manhattan Indians lived in this part of Manhattan.
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One trader, Mynheer Hendrick de Forest became the first European to set foot in Muscoota. He liked it immediately. After a while, he built a house, planted some crops and began living in Muscoota, all without asking the Native American if he could. Later on, other Dutchmen and women followed suite and began to move into Muscoota too.
War broke out with the Native Americans after the Governor Kieft indiscriminately and arbitrarily sentenced some to death. The Manhattan Indians managed to kill all of the settlers. The arrival of Governor Peter Stuyvesant changed Muscoota forever. Governor Stuyvesant built a town in Muscoota and named it “Nieuw Haarlem”. With the arrival of the English in 1664 Nieuw Haarlem’s name was changed to “Harlem”.
Photo credit: 1) The Muscoota indians in East Harlem. 2) These caves were the homes of the first inhabitants on Manhattan Island. Inwood Park 3) the Indians “Muscoota Creek,” at Inwood Park 1925. 4) Inwood Hill Park-Indian Cave Dwelling, 1925 ( Source).