History: Adriaen Block is First European to Identify Long Island as an Island


Block was also the first European explorer to enter Long Island Sound in the early 1600s.

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Photo: Carol M. Highsmith / Public domain.

If you ever plan a trip to Block Island, take a moment to remember its namesake, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, who was the first European to identify Long Island as an actual island. He sailed up the Connecticut River and established the fur trade in the New World for the Dutch.


After exploring the coastal region between New Jersey and Massachusetts between 1611 and 1614, Block returned home with a map of the area. Along with Long Island, Block’s map also has the first depiction of Manhattan as an island.


Rather accurate for the time, the map was used in a petition by Block and other interested parties to apply for an exclusive trading charter for their United New Netherland Company, which they received. The map is also the first historical mention of the area as "Niew Nederlandt." 


Below is the map that Block produced.

Photo: Public Domain.