4. 2nd Avenue, 1641

New Amsterdam Drawing-NYCImage via NYPL

In 1641, the Wickquasgeck trail, which became modern-day Broadway, connected Native American villages to the Dutch settlement at the southern tip of Manhattan. Colonist Claes Swits ran an inn along the trail, at today’s 2nd Avenue and 47th Street. One night in 1641, a Native American man came to the inn with an axe and decapitated Claes Swits. He did so in retaliation for an earlier settler attack that had wiped out his entire family. New Amsterdam’s Director General Willem Kieft demanded that the man be captured and punished, but Native Americans leaders shielded him. Kieft then used the decapitation as a pretext to slaughter the Native population.