Did you know that Lower Manhattan was the site of America's first public brewery?
The Dutch colonial governor Peter Minuit established what would become America's first public brewery on the southern tip of Manhattan just seven years after purchasing the island -- soon to become New Amsterdam and, ultimately, New York City -- from Native Americans in 1626.
For the island's early colonists, beer was a dietary staple (one commonly enjoyed at breakfast!) and was often brewed in private homes and taverns. In 1633, Minuit and other members of the Dutch West India Company endeavored to produce the beverage on a larger scale, and converted a log cabin in Marckvelt, or Market Field -- located in today's Financial District -- to a public brewery. From this small facility, the early settlers began producing large quantities of ale made from top-fermented malt and hops -- the era's alcoholic beverage of choice.
While Lower Manhattan brewers continued to produce this beverage throughout the 17th century, they faced an increasing number of obstacles, as a lack of fresh water and limited access to grains and hops often curtailed production. As a result, breweries began springing up elsewhere in the colonies where resources were more abundant. New York's mass production of ale shifted upstate to Albany, which soon became one of the ale-brewing capitals of the east.
By 1845, New York State was home to 102 breweries, and by 1879 the number had more than tripled to 365, 124 of which were located in New York City. While the public brewery is long gone, Lower Manhattan today offers plenty of pubs, bars, and restaurants where you can raise an ale in tribute to the Dutch colonists.