How the Scots built: New York

SCOTS have made New York their home for centuries - dating back to the time when it was still called New Amsterdam and was under Dutch rule.

Penn Station, in New York, was built by Charles McKim, who was of Scottish heritage

They made their way over in such a steady stream that their influence didn’t just create a section of the city - such as Little Italy or China Town - they were the city.

New York’s culture and landscape were shaped by the immigrants who, sometimes unwillingly, found their way to the shore of the city.

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The earliest Scottish immigration dates back to the 1600s when America was still made up of 13 colonies.

The lounge room at the New York University club

The Scots came over on the Mayflower ship in drips and drabs, settling into new life across the settled lands.

The 13 colonies were Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia - and of course New York.

When the War of American Independence took place, several Scotsmen were part of the signing of the declaration, including Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, James Buchanan, John K. Polk and William Drummond.

In the 1790 census, Scots made up eight per cent of the population of New York, and there are towns called Albany, Perth and Dundee in the wider state.

The McKim Building of the Morgan Library

Charles McKim was of Scottish decent, and had a great impact on the city. Born in Pensylvania, the architect made his way to New York after studying in Paris.

As part of the McKim, Mead & White architect firm, Charles helped to build the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University (1893), the University Club of New York (1899), the Pierpont Morgan Library (1903), New York Penn Station (1904–10). He also designed the Howard Mansion (1896) at Hyde Park, New York.

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in Fife.

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Andrew Carnegie portrate by Patch Brothers

Immigrating to the States in 1848, he started work as a telegrapher, making his fortune from sound investments.

He built and owned Carnegie Hall on 7th Avenue and is still thought of as one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music.

In his later years, Andrew Carnegie implicated a system of having public libraries built across the country.

Uncle Sam, the personification of the US Government, was based on Samuel Wilson, whose parents came from Greenock.

The portrate of Uncle Sam was based on Samuel Wilson, whose parents were from Greenock

Sam provided the army with beef and pork in barrels during the War of 1812. The barrels were prominently labelled “U.S.” for the United States, but it was jokingly said that the letters stood for “Uncle Sam.”

Even the influence of Scottish universities have had an effect on New York. The first medical school in New York, King’s College, was established by Samuel Bard, who gained his doctorate at Edinburgh University. He was also personal physician to George Washington.

John Kinnear of the New York branch of the American Scottish Foundation, believes that it is important to celebrate this heritage, saying: “At the end of the day, we’re all Americans. But what we bring with our culture and our heritage influences what we do.

“It’s like if someone asked ‘What’s the point of preserving all the buildings?’. It’s because it’s a matter of our heritage and the past is the stepping stone to the future.

“You can’t just wipe everything out and start from scratch.”

The lounge room at the New York University club
The McKim Building of the Morgan Library
Andrew Carnegie portrate by Patch Brothers
The portrate of Uncle Sam was based on Samuel Wilson, whose parents were from Greenock