The first recorded exploration by the Dutch of the area around what is now called New York Bay was in 1609 with the voyage of the ship Halve Maen or "Half Moon," captained by Henry Hudson. Hudson was trying to find the fabled Northwest Passage for the Dutch East India Company.
Instead, he brought back news about the rich, unplundered resources of the continent, especially a source of beaver pelts which, when felted, could satisfy the 17th century fashion craze of waterproof beaver hats.
The territory of Nieuw Nederland [New Netherland] was established first as a private, profit-making enterprise focused on cementing alliances and conducting trade with the diverse Indian tribes. In the process, Dutch traders enabled the surveying and exploration of the region as a prelude to the anticipated official settlement by the Dutch Republic in 1624.
Although the settlement of New Netherland was undertaken rather as a commercial speculation, the Dutch were equally anxious and careful to extend and to preserve to their infant settlements the blessings of education and religion.