Web Appendix #5: The Palisade Wall and The Plank Wall

References for Illustrations 5a and 5b: - Details of the Walls built to secure the borders of the Dutch settlement on Manhattan against the English and Native Americans from 1653 to 1664. This early Wall gave New York's Wall Street its name.

Fernow, Berthold editor, The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1897) Vol 1, page 73 has original design specification:

"The palisades must be 12 feet long, 18 inches in circumference, sharpened at the upper end and be set in line. At each rod a post 21 inches in circumference is to be set, to which rails, split for this use shall be nailed one foot below the top. The breastwork against it shall be 4 feet high, 4 feet at the bottom and 3 feet at top, covered with sods, with a ditch 3 feet wide and2 feet deep, 2 and a half feet within the breastwork. The length of the ground, to be lined with palisades is 180 rods, the end of the rods being the last of the money. Payments will be made weekly in good wampum." All these are the Dutch measures (rods, feet, inches) see below for metric and English equivalents.

Fernow, Vol 1, page 72-74 March 17-19, 1653 has discussion of original palisade design and its replacement by the plank design, which was the first one built in 1653. Also included there are the schematics as shown in Illustration 5a The Palisade Wall (First Design) and Illustration 5b The Plank Wall (Second Design).

Illustration 5a. The Palisade Wall (First Design) The wall was to be 180 Dutch rods long (662 meters/2,173 English/US feet)* The main component of this design was a log, a palisade, 12 Dutch feet long 1.5 feet in circumference. The palisades would be sunk into the ground to present a wall 9 feet to the outside. Behind the wall there was to be a 4-foot sod-covered breastwork allowing sentries to patrol behind the wall. *The Dutch foot in illustration = .283 meters or .928 English/US(')feet. Dutch rod = 3.68 meters/12.07'.
Illustration 5b. The Plank Wall (Second Design) To save money, this design connected posts with planks 15 feet (4.25m/12.5') long and 1 foot (28cm/.93') wide. That meant the 9 feet above ground had 9 planks stacked against the posts. The lower four planks were backed by the breastwork. Planks replacing palisades saved almost three thousand guilders in materials alone. The labor to nail planks rather than sink each palisade three feet deep was substantially less. The first wall built in 1653 used the Plank design. Additions (1655-1664) might have used the sturdier Palisade design for the Hudson River Wall. See Web Appendix 5 for details of construction of both wall designs.

Conversions for Dutch Measures as used in Text:
Dutch Measure (metric/English)
log length12 feet long (3.4m/11.1')
circumference18 inches (46cm/1.38')
post circumference21 inches (54cm/1.58')
rail below topone foot (28cm/11.1")
rail thickness3 to 4 inches (8-9 cm/3")
log above ground9 feet (2.5m /8'4")
height of breastwork4 feet (1.13m /3.7')
plank length15 feet (4.25m/12.5')
plank width1 foot (28cm/10")
Note: Designation for English feet above ('); for English inches (")