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Van Cortlandt, Annettje Lockermans (c. 1620–after 1665)

Van Cortlandt, Annettje Lockermans (c. 1620–after 1665)

Creator of the first paved street in America. Born around 1620 in the Netherlands; emigrated to the New Amsterdam colony in 1642; died sometime after 1665; married Oloff Van Cortlandt (a military officer); children: three.

Annettje Lockermans Van Cortlandt was an orphan when she came to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (later called New York City) in 1642. Soon after, she married a prosperous military officer, Captain Oloff Van Cortlandt, who built her a large and imposing house on Brower Street.

Van Cortlandt was known for her intelligence and forceful personality, and soon her house was a central gathering place for other strong-willed women of the colony, including her aunt Annetje Jans . Although Van Cortlandt had a continuing campaign to get officials of the then-village of Manhattan to improve the filthy condition of the dirt road in front of her house, her complaints led to nothing. Realizing that she would have to solve the problem on her own, she instructed her servants to pave the road with cobblestones. Thus, in 1648, Brower Street became the first paved street in America. People came from miles around to see what they called the "stone street," and the thoroughfare is still there and still known by that name.

sources:

Weatherford, Doris. American Women's History. NY: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Kelly Winters , freelance writer

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