Manhattan for a Song

May 24, 1626

The borough of Manhattan has been described as the “economic and cultural center of the United States.” Wall Street, which can be found in Lower Manhattan, is arguably the financial capital of the world. The cost of living in Manhattan is the highest of anywhere within the USA.

Ironic, then, that the entire island was purchased for a mere 60 Dutch guilders.

Henry Hudson had already passed through the land in 1609 as he mapped things out for the Dutch East India Company. Back in Amsterdam, things were a bit heated due to the Dutch War of Independence that had been going on for decades, and people began to fear a monopoly-type situation as the Dutch East India Company grew in size. After potential peace treaty signings, the Twelve Years Truce, and a beheading, the Dutch West India Company was formed, and Peter Minuit headed off to New Netherland (modern day New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania) in search of new trade-able goods to bring to the homeland.

Upon his return home, Peter was named the governor of New Netherland. He sailed back to North America in May of 1626, and on the 24th he purchased the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans for 60 guilders. Scholars argue about exactly how much cash that is today, but everyone agrees that it is right around one thousand bucks.

In 2014, the same amount of money in New York City would buy you a frittata at Norma’s in Le Parker Meridien (click here to see the menu). And 35 bucks will get you a whole cheesecake at a place like Juniors or Two Little Red Hens. Which is really much more tantalizing than an omelette anyway…

Cheesecake in a New York Minute

Crust:
16 crushed graham crackers
2 T melted butter
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” springform pan with cooking spray. After crushing the graham crackers in a food processor, combine with the melted butter and press into the bottom of the springform pan.

Filling:
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup milk
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 T real vanilla extract
¼ cup flour

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Using a mixer, combine the cream cheese with sugar, and blend until smooth. Add the milk, the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and flour. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
Pour on top of the crust and bake in the oven for one hour. Leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door open for one hour. After cheesecake is completely cooled, refrigerate until serving.

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