How is “Staten” in “Staten Island” pronounced?

January 31, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Geography

Staten, the name of an island in New York Bay, is often incorrectly pronounced with the a long as in state. It is correctly pronounced statt-en. The a is short as in static.

This pronunciation is a holdover from the old Dutch name of the island. When Europeans first explored New York Bay, Staten Island was inhabited by a branch of the Raritan Indians. Henry Hudson and the early Dutch called it Staaten Eylandt “Island of the States”—after the States-General, the parliament of the Netherlands, which was popularly referred to as Staaten, “the States.”

In 163o, while Peter Minuit was director of New Netherland, the Dutch West India Company purchased the island from the Indians, giving in exchange “some kettles, axes, hoes, wampum, drilling awls, jew’s-harps and divers small wares,” worth a total of only twenty-four dollars, and granted it to Michael Pauw.

As early as 1654 the island was called Staaten Eylandt in the court minutes of New Amsterdam. The Dutch explorers who first rounded Cape Horn had already given the name to an island off the coast of Tierra del Fuego. When the Duke of York came into possession of New Netherland in 1664 he gave all that part of his province west of the Hudson to the proprietors of New Jersey, who thus acquired Staten Island.

In 1668, however, the Duke of York changed his mind and decided that all islands in New York Bay that could be circumnavigated within twenty-four hours should belong to New York. Captain Christopher Bilopp made the voyage around Staten Island, which has an area of fifty-seven square miles, within the required time and was given a tract of land on the island for his services.

After the Revolution, New York and New Jersey both claimed jurisdiction of this island and New Jersey did not finally give up her claim until the nineteenth century.

It is generally supposed that the first permanent settlement on the island was made by the Dutch at Oude Dorp in 1639. According to a humorous story, Peter Stuyvesant gave Staten Island its name by accident. Seeing land in the distance upon his arrival at New Amsterdam, he asked: “Vaht ist tat?” “Tat ist an island,” replied one of the city fathers. “Ist tat an Island?” queried the cork-legged governor, and it was called Staten Island ever after by the Dutch.

 

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