Lambert van Valkenburgh's
New Amsterdam Home

A Lot of Lambert
By Rick van Valkenburg

   Fishing into the past is a little tricky. Once a little misinformation gets hooked it tends to tangle things up for a very long time.
   It’s like a stone thrown in a calm sea. The ripples expand seemingly without limit. It may not end up a tsunami, but we still may find ourselves embarrassingly all wet.
   I’ve found myself a guilty but chastened perpetuator of misinformation. About ten years ago I posted an illustration on the NAVVF website taken from a book published in 1902, New Amsterdam and its People by J. H. Innes.
   Note the little building marked with a letter ‘N’ next to a “hoisting crane” and a gallows that is described as being the house of Lambert van Valkenburgh. It turns out this doesn’t correspond to early Dutch records of land grants, deed transfers and property surveys of early Manhattan. There’s an interesting story regarding original sources that the illustration is based on, but I’ll save that for later.

The small house by the "hoisting crane" in what would now be across from Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan.


A. The Hoisting Crane. B. Southeast Bastion of Fort Amsterdam. C. White Horse Tavern. D. House, late of Dominie Bogardus, who married Anneke Jans, a Norwegian woman. E. Old Store-House of West India Co. F. The "Five Stone Houses" of West India Co. G. Brewery of West India Co. H. House of Cornelis Pietersen. I. House of Pieter van Couwenhoven. J. House of Jan Jansen Schepmoes. K. House of Gillis Pietersen. L. House of Eghbert von Borsum. M. House of Pieter Cornelissen van der Veen. N. House of Lambert van Valkenburgh, German. O. Schregers Hoek or Capoke. P. House of Hans Kiersted, who married Sara Rollefsen, a Norwegian woman. Q. Roelof Jansen Haes, a Norwegian. R. Pieter Cornelissen. S. Paulus Leendertsen van der Grift. T. New Store House of West India Co. U. Augustyn Herrman. German. V. Jacob Haes, husband of Christina Capoen Holgersen, Norwegian. W. Old Church and Lane.



The Tyler Map

   Towards the end of the 19th Century cartographer Henry D. Tyler created a map of the original grants of village lots from the Dutch West India Company to the inhabitants of New-Amsterdam (now New York) lying below the present line of Wall Street; grants commencing from 1642 and located from historical & legal records. This map shows Lambert’s lot with the date of the grant, 1646, south of the fort between the lot of Jan Eversen Bout and the road to the rear gate to the fort.

The Castello Plan

   At the beginning of the 20th century there was the amazing discovery in the Medici Villa di Castello in Italy: A map that turned out to be a 1665 copy of a detailed map of the lots and buildings of New Amsterdam by surveyor Jacques Cortelyou in 1660 that matches up with great accuracy with a list of properties by Nicasius de Sille dated July 10, 1660.
   By that time Lambert VV and family had long since moved up the Hudson River to Fort Orange/Beverwyck, present day Albany. Records show he transferred the title of the house and lot in 1656 to Isaac Grevenraet who apparently owned many houses and rented them out. Since Lambert moved up the river to Fort Orange around 1652 he may have leased or rented out the house and gardens for the four years before selling. The lot was 9 rods, 1 ft on the east side along the road (149 ½ ft), 8 rods, 9 ft on the west side (141 ft) and just 19 ½ ft wide.




   The “Castello Plan” shows a building on the south part of the lot that Lambert sold to Grevenraet. When Grevenraet sold the property in 1670 to Pieter Jansen Slott, there was "an old Tennement" on the land.—Liber Deeds, B; 170; cf. Book of Records of Deeds y Transfers (etc.), 1665-1672 (translated). There is little doubt in my mind that it is a representation of the house Lambert once owned, that he probably built himself!
Soon after the English took over, in 1670, all the houses south of the fort were ordered torn down, so as to not obstruct the range of the cannons.


   I.N. Phelps Stokes’ seminal book, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, Vol 2, published in 1916 overlaid the lots and shape of from the Castello Plan over a 1909 map of downtown New York.
   It shows Lambert’s lot is now occupied by the east lane of State Street, Between Pearl and Bridge Street, across from Battery Park and just south of the Old Customs House, now the Museum of the American Indian.



   Cross State Street at Pearl towards Battery Park and you’re walking right by where the little house would have been. I’ve bicycled over the same spot many times. It’s right close to NASDAQ.




   See for yourself. The Castello Plan has overlaid modern Manhattan using Google Earth.

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Lambert in Manhattan



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