Who Discovered America? And What Does This Have to Do with Central Park?

Swedish Cottage

The Swedish Cottage in Central Park.  Olmsted saw it in an exhibition in Philadelphia in the 1880s, fell in love with it,  and had it installed in Central Park.

In my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, the main character, Christopher Middleton, comes across the Swedish Cottage in Central Park and jumps to the conclusion that the Scandinavians were the first to discover North America.

In a sense he was right.

It is well documented that that the Vikings were the first Europeans to set foot in North America. Erik the Red discovered Greenland around 950 A.D. and established a settlement there. Erik was the father of Leif Eriksson who  traveled as far south as what is now Nova Scotia.

Columbus (there’s a statue of him on the Mall) never actually set foot of North America. He landed on an island in the Bahamas (the Dominican Republic of today), so technically-speaking Columbus never discovered America. The Vikings did.

However, if you want to get technical about it, you’d have to say that NOBODY discovered North America. The Indians were already there!

I try to have some fun with this historical confusion in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story.

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