On This Date In History: In the Algonquian language, it was known as Manahatin which meant “Hill Island.” Manahatin or “Mannahatta” was a rich land teeming with wildlife and game like beaver, deer, bison and bear. The river had sturgeon and oyster beds were common on its shores. The northern 2/3 part of the island was occupied by an Indian tribe called the Weckquasgeeks which were a subdivision of the Wappinger Indians. The smaller remaining southern portion was where the Canarsees or Canarsie called home.
On May 4, 1626 the director-general of a new Dutch colony arrived on the shores of the island with instructions from home that, if the land was occupied by Indians, they were not to be forced off. Instead, they be persuaded by giving them something or with kind words. Well, the folks that occupied the island never claimed to own the land as they didn’t have the sense of ownership in their culture like the Europeans. And if they did, the Canarsees would have less claim than the Weckquasgeeks. Well, the Dutch didn’t know all of this and, on this date in 1626, gave the Canarsees what amounted to 24 American dollars in exchange for an island they didn’t own.
It must be noted that there are several sources that put the purchase on a different date in May and at least one that claims it was in November. Still, another source claims there is no proof that the purchase ever took place, Nevertheless, assuming the veracity of the story, I’ve always figured that the Canarsee chief must have been like Frank Pentangeli (Michael V Gazzo) in The Godfather Part II when he says “the FBI guys, they offered me a deal and I said, sure…why not?”
So, the Canarasees took the money and the Dutch thought they had a good deal. But, of course, the Dutch certainly didn’t hold on to the Island long enough to see the Hudson River polluted so that there are no more sturgeon and no more oysters. They never saw the hills flattened and the rich soil covered in concrete nor the disappearance of the bison, deer, beaver and bear. Nope…the Dutch paid $24 for an Island to people who didn’t even own it and then didn’t stick around to see it become all that it would become.
Meanwhile, the Indians…if they had taken that $24 and invested it at 6% interest compounded annually they’d be sitting on $35 Billion by 1988. If they continued that return on investment, it would be nearly $70 Billion by 2000. Now, if they had been really smart, then they would have put that $35 Billion (or perhaps a bit less) in 1986 at the initial public offering in a then-new company called Microsoft. If they had sold it at its peak just prior to 2000, they would have nearly $21.4 Trillion. Then, if they had invested it at 6% interest compounded annually for four years they would have just over $27 Trillion. If they took that money and invested it in 2004 in Google and then sold it at its peak in 2008, then they could have lived quite nicely on $189 Trillion. That is more than 14 times the entire US economy…I’m not sure if the government could tax that money since Indian Nations are considered to be sovereign nations, which is why they are allowed to have Casinos in states where they are otherwise prohibitited. Not bad for some guys from Brooklyn.
Weather Bottom Line: This little front that came through made for a nice Thursday. Snow White and I rode around with the top down and then walked along the river which was high but below flood stage. When we were there it was about 21.4 feet and the flood stage is 23 feet. The boys at the NWS seem to think that its about crested. I’ve found that hydrology regarding river forecasting is not quite to the level that we’d like it to be because there are so many variables. It may not be perfect but they have improved quite a bit, perhaps as good as it’s going to get. In any event, they are usually not way off the mark so if they say it’s crested and it hasn’t it probably doesn’t have much more to go. Now, it may not fall off real fast because there will be a fair amount of rain falling in the watershed to our North and that will make its way downstream and that will slow the descent; but fall it will. It always does, eventually.
This little front not only brought us good weather but dried out the atmosphere. On the “against” side of the severe threat for our area, I think that moisture will be limited and also the main source of energy will be to our North. On the “for” side, after a brief cooldown, we’ll be pushing into the mid to upper 80’s on Friday afternoon and the temperature contrast between the warm and cool air will be pretty significant. Typically when you get a temperature gradient such that your highs from one day to the next fall some 20-25 degrees, then the strong storm threat is enhanced. But..there’s the moisture factor. Both the GFS and NAM advertise tremendous dynamics BUT….they come well before precipitation. The timing of this for our area just doesn’t look quite right. At this point, the data suggests rain chances go up for late Friday night….like around midnight. So, the heating aspect gets lost a bit. And, by the time that comes around the strong dynamics are gone. In fact, the rain data is not very impressive either. Let’s put this in a possible but not probable category. There may be an isolated strong storm still around with the biggest threats for the extreme northern part of the region. I would think that Cincinnati and Columbus would have more to worry about than we do. Keep in mind that we’ll have a nice weekend but highs for the Mother’s Day weekend will be in the 60’s.