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How Did Adriaen's Landing Get Its Name?

Adriaen's Landing is a development site along the Connecticut River in downtown Hartford. It includes the Connecticut Convention Center, The Connecticut Science Center, and the projected Front Street retail-residential complex.

Connecticut Science Center at night

A nightime view of the Connecticut Science Center, a component of Adriaen's Landing.

The "Adriaen" in Adriaen's Landing is Adriaen Block, a Dutch explorer who sailed up the Connecticut River in 1614 aboard the Onrust, the first American-built ship. He got as far as Enfield, about 15 miles upriver of Hartford.

The following year, Block visited the island just off the coast of Rhode Island that would eventually be named Block Island.

The Dutch followed up on Block's journey by establishing a trading post at the confluence of the Connecticut and Park rivers. The year is reported as 1623 in some places, 1633 in others. Regardless, the Dutch set up business well before the Rev. Thomas Hooker and other English settlers arrived to establish the colony that became Hartford.

Naming their post Huys de Hoop, or House of Hope, the Dutch traded with local Indian tribes for beaver pelts. But an invasion of the region by the Pequot tribe led the more peaceful Podunk Indians to visit English settlers in Boston and Plymouth to seek their protection, promising farmland in return. Soon, the English arrived in Windsor, Wethersfield, and then Hartford.

"As for the Dutch," local historian Ellsworth S. Grant writes, "they were traders not farmers. Rarely on the frontier have agricultural and trading culture been able to live in harmony; the Dutch were too few and English multiplied too fast for the struggle to be equal, and the Hollanders finally sailed downriver for good in 1654."

Yet reminders of Block and his countrymen remain. The south-end neighborhood that runs along the river and takes in the landmark Colt firearms factory is known as Dutch Point. In creating streets around his factory in the late 1850s, Samuel Colt paid homage to the Dutch by calling one Huyshope Avenue—a corruption of Huys de Hoop—and naming several others after key figures:

Van Block Avenue is named after Block.

Van Dyke Avenue honors Guysbert Van Dyke, first commander of Huys de Hoop.

Hendrixsen Avenue takes its name from a lieutenant who served on the Onrust, Cornelius Hendrixsen.

Vredendale Avenue, according to civil engineer and street historian F. Perry Close, was probably named after a plantation of that name belonging to a Dutch navigator named DeVires, who visited the fort in June 1639.