The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1613 Juan Rodriguez Becomes
First Manhattan Immigrant
Juan Rodriguez, a native of the what is now the Dominican Republic, becomes the first immigrant in Manhattan. This is 12 years before Dutch colonists establish New Amsterdam, and 51 years before the English take control of the colony and rename it New York.
Born in Santo Domingo of a Portuguese sailor and an African woman, Rodriguez arrives on a Portuguese ship and decides to stay. He marries a Native American woman and establishes a family. He builds a very lucrative business, trading furs for European tools with the natives and the explorers who came to the New World.
But he is not only the first immigrant. Rodriguez is also the first person of both European and African heritage to live in Manhattan. And he is not only the first Latino, he is the first New York Dominican!
In 2012, New York City recognized him by co-naming a portion of Broadway, "Juan Rodriguez Way." In two predominantly Dominican neighborhoods, from 159th Street in Washington Heights to 218th Street in Inwood, many people now can look up an see streets signs recognizing that one of their ancestors arrived here first!