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The Civic Center or Five Points as it has always been called, is the swath of downtown Manhattan that encompasses City Hall, police headquarters and the courts. The area is roughly 10 blocks long and 5 blocks wide, but is far less dense than most of Manhattan, where the average number of residents for an area that size is 35,000, and the Civic Center has approximately 20,000. The district is bound on the west by Broadway, on the north by Chinatown, on the east by the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, and on the south by the Financial District.
Originally, the Lenape American Indians occupied the Civic Center due to its rich pastoral fields and its proximity to the East River and Hudson River. There was a series of marshes in the area and a big pond in what is now Foley Square that the early settlers called “The Collect” or “Collect Pond.” In fact, the area was so low lying that during the spring floods, the Indians could paddle from the East River to the Hudson River through the Collect Pond Then in 1609, Henry Hudson, an English explorer working for the Dutch, came and claimed the land for the Dutch. The colony there grew and farms began to expand, so the demand for workers increased. The Dutch West Indies Company decided to import slaves in 1625 to the new colony. The Civic Center was known as the commons and the first recorded building was a windmill built by Jan de Wit and Denys Hartogveldt in 1663. The next year, the colony was renamed New York and the state seal was created the following year. Farms continued to grow and slavery expanded rapidly. The slaves built a burial ground in the north area of the Civic Center.