In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer in the service of the French crown, explored the Atlantic coast of North America between the Carolinas and Newfoundland, including New York Harbor and Narragansett Bay.
In 1540, French traders from New France built a chateau on Castle Island, within present-day Albany; it was abandoned the following year due to flooding. In 1614, the Dutch, under the command of Hendrick Corstiaensen, rebuilt the French chateau, which they called Fort Nassau. Fort Nassau was the first Dutch settlement in North America, and was located along the Hudson River, also within present-day Albany. The rudimentary “fort” was washed away by flooding in 1617, and abandoned for good after Fort Orange (New Netherland) was built nearby in 1623.
Henry Hudson’s 1609 voyage marked the beginning of European involvement with the area. Sailing for the Dutch East India Company and looking for a passage to Asia, he entered the Upper New York Bay on September 11 of that year. The English captured the colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and governed it as the Province of New York. The city of New York was recaptured by the Dutch in 1673 during the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–1674) and renamed New Orange. It was returned to the English under the terms of the Treaty of Westminster a year later.
New York was the only colony not to vote for independence, as the delegates were not authorized to do so. New York then endorsed the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776. About one-third of the battles of the American Revolutionary War took place in New York; the first major battle after U.S. independence was declared – and the largest battle of the entire war – was fought in New York at the Battle of Long Island (a.k.a. Battle of Brooklyn) in August 1776. New York became the 11th state to ratify the United States Constitution, on July 26, 1788.