Sep 12, 2013 News
The New Amsterdam Town Council is presently celebrating 122 years of existence as a municipality. The Council which is headed by Mayor Claude Henry observed the occasion on Tuesday with a simple cake cutting ceremony.
The cake was made in the shape of the town hall. The municipality is 122 years-old while the town is 222 years old.
Speaking at a simple ceremony to observe the occasion, town clerk Sharron Alexander, said that the municipality over the years has grown despite its fair share of challenges. One of the main challenges is the disposal of solid waste, which she said has been a bugbear over the years. However, the council is trying to get on top of the situation.
She called on the residents to continue to support the municipality. The council has acquired some machines to help beautify the town, These include a Grader, a Backhoe, and a compactor truck. Most of the landmarks and assets are old. Some are in need of urgent repairs.
A cleanup campaign is slated for tomorrow from Vryheid Street and will encompass the entire town. On Saturday a cake sale has been planned for in front of the market.
New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam as it is known in Dutch) is located in East Berbice-Corentyne Region, 62 miles east of the capital, Georgetown. It is the oldest municipalities in Guyana and one of the largest towns in the country. It is located on the eastern bank of the Berbice River, immediately south of the Canje River.ÿþ ÿþ
New Amsterdam has its origins in a village which grew up alongside Fort Nassau in the 1730s and 1740s. The first New Amsterdam, as it was called then, was situated about 56 miles up the Berbice River on the right bank.
Before the 1763 uprising, it comprised a Court of Policy building, a warehouse, an inn, two smithies, a bakery, a Lutheran church and a number of houses, among other buildings.
Built in 1740 by the Dutch New Amsterdam was first named Fort Saint Andries, before being taken over by the British in 1803.
In March 1763, Cuffy had made the Court of Policy building his headquarters. When the revolutionaries were forced to retreat upriver in 1764, New Amsterdam was torched under the supervision of Prins, and only the brick Lutheran church Survived.
Around 1784, as a result of the fluctuating fortunes of Fort Nassau, the Dutch relocated the town to its present site at the confluence of the Berbice and Canje Rivers.
The name New Amsterdam was chosen because most of the colonists originated from the province of Amsterdam in Holland. New Amsterdam was established as the seat of Government for Berbice between 1785 and 1790.
In May 1825 an Ordinance to establish a Board of Management for the town was passed. In 1844 a Board of Superintendence was established and Mr. Neil Ross McKinnon who was president of that Board was appointed as the Town’s first Mayor .The town consists of three main roads with many cross streets. The present mayor is Claude Henry.
From New Amsterdam one can get to Crabwood Creek (about 45 miles away) via the Corentyne or to the East Canje area of Berbice. A road also leads up the Berbice River bank to Mara about 25 miles south.
The New Amsterdam Town Hall which has since been pulled down was erected in 1868 after the establishment of the Board of Superintendents in 1844.
The tower which was encircled by a ‘widow’s walk is one of the main architectural features of this edifice. There are a number of primary, secondary and tertiary schools in the town.
Other important lawn marks are All Saints Scots Church, Mission Chapel Congregational Church: The All Saint Anglican Church, the New Amsterdam Public Hospital: The Ituni Temple, the population of New Amsterdam is approximately 50,000.
The inhabitants of the town were required to pay a fixed sum annually to the Dutch Reformed Church and the Hospital, and were required to keep the public paths and the dividing land between their lots free of bushes and grass.
After the residents were given land, each resident had to provide drainage and anyone who had not built a house within six months was to lose his lot.
In 1812 a special Department of Works, the Winkel Department, was set up to deal with all repair works required by the residents. The workmen were originally slaves who were housed in one of the older parts of New Amsterdam. They were given their freedom in 1831, three years before slavery was abolished throughout the British West Indies.
The newly freed slaves were allowed to keep their houses in Winkel Village and in 1890 their descendants petitioned the Combined Court of British Guiana for the land which was later granted. Winkel still remains a ward in the town.
The committee which is made up of Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association (BCCDA), the Regional Administration, the Private Sector, other private Business Community and other interesting individuals known as the New Amsterdam Tower Restoration Committee, was set up to oversee the restoration of the tower, but not much has been done since. The committee is chaired by Imran Saccoor Republic Bank New Amsterdam Branch Manager. An estimated cost of repairing the structure then was given as $10.5M.
At the time the general consensus was that residents , stakeholders and those in the wider Diaspora, were that they would not want to see another master piece go by the way side (like the New Amsterdam hospital) and some other historical sites.
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