Originally called Liberty Plaza Park for its location beside One Liberty Plaza, Zuccotti Park is now most famously known for its role in the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. The space was originally created in 1968 by US Steel as a much-needed public space. The park underwent a series of renovations after it was heavily damaged after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. In 2006, the space was renamed Zuccotti Park after the chairman of Brookfield Office Properties, the company that currently owns the park.
Long before it was a park, the area was once the site of New York City’s very first coffee house called the King’s Arms. In 1696 John Hutchins bought the property and built a house called the King’s Arms. The two-storey-high building was made of brick imported from Holland and included an “observatory” on the roof where customers could enjoy their coffee and a view of the city.
The King’s Arms was built not long after the Dutch first imported coffee into New Amsterdam in 1668. Before coffee, Dutch settlers enjoyed beer with their breakfast. Coffee slowly began replacing beer as the go-to morning drink and became a hit within the homes of the settlers.
Coffee houses in Europe served as meeting places for politicians, businessmen, and even served as courthouses. This use also carried over to their American counterparts. According to records, the King’s Arms may have bene the only coffee house in the city–or the only one important enough to mention.
Owner John Hutchins was eventually arrested for speaking badly of King George, Great Britain’s ruling monarch at the time.