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The Rise of New York as a Pirate Haven

by Thomas McCord

In the 17th century, New York City was one of the largest havens for pirates in the world (only slightly less so than the famous pirate havens of Madagascar and Malabar). New York City's rise to prominence as a pirate haven is largely due to increased trade they generated for the port. Indian Ocean pirates could come to New York to restock their supplies and sell their plundered goods. Had pirates tried to sell their stolen goods in Europe, they likely would have faced suspicion and questions of legitimacy. By selling their goods in New York City, pirates evaded these questions while New York City merchants sold the goods back to Europe at a mark up. It was this economic system which facilitated the increased presence of pirates in the city.

To learn more about the origins of piracy, click here.

Residence of Capt. William Kidd, 1691, on what is now the corner of Pearl and Hanover Streets (read about William Kidd here).

Bibliography if applicable

McKay, Richard. South Street: A Maritime History of New York. Riverside: 7 C's Press, Inc., 1969.

Lopate, Phillip. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan. New York: Anchor Books, 2004.

Innes, J.H. New Amsterdam and Its People. Volume I. Port Washington: Ira J. Friedman, Inc., 1969.

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