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New York City
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
New York City (officially the City of New York) is the largest city in the United States and one of the world's major global cities. Located in the state of New York, the city has a population of over 8.1 million within an area of 321 square miles), making it the most densely populated major city in North America. With a population of 18.7 million the New York Metropolitan Area is one of the largest urban areas in the world, yet New York has the lowest crime rate among major United States cities.
New York City is an international center for business, finance, fashion, medicine, entertainment, media, and culture, with an extraordinary collection of museums, galleries, performance venues, media outlets, international corporations, and financial markets. The city is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations, and to many of the world's most famous skyscrapers.
Popularly known as the "Big Apple," the "City That Never Sleeps," or the "Capital of the World," the city attracts people from all over the globe who come for New York City's economic opportunity, culture, and fast-paced cosmopolitan lifestyle.
The region was inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans at the time of its European discovery by Italian Giovanni da Verrazzano. Although Verrazzano sailed into New York Harbor, his voyage did not continue upstream and instead he sailed back into the Atlantic. It was not until the voyage of Henry Hudson, an Englishman who worked for the Dutch East India Company, that the area was mapped. He discovered Manhattan on September 11, 1609, and continued up the river that bears his name, the Hudson River, until he arrived at the site where New York State's capital city, Albany, now stands. The Dutch established New Amsterdam in 1613, which was granted
self-government in 1652 under Peter Stuyvesant. The British took the city in September 1664, and renamed it "New York" after the English Duke of York and Albany. The Dutch briefly regained it in August 1673, renaming the city "New Orange," but ceded it permanently in November 1674.
Under British rule the City of New York continued to develop, and while there was growing sentiment in the city for greater political independence, the area was decidedly split in its loyalties during the New York Campaign, a series of major early battles during the American Revolutionary War. The city was under British occupation until the end of the war, and was the last port British ships evacuated in 1783.
New York City was the capital of the newly-formed United States from 1788 to 1790. In the 19th century, the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 enabled New York to overtake Boston and Philadelphia in economic importance, and local politics became dominated by a Democratic Party political machine known as Tammany Hall that drew on the support of Irish immigrants. In later years, known as the Gilded Age, the city's upper classes enjoyed great prosperity amid the further growth of a poor immigrant working class. It was also an era associated with economic and municipal integration, culminating in the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898.
A series of new transportation links, most notably the opening of the New York City Subway in 1904, bound together the newly-enlarged city. The height of European immigration brought social upheaval, and the anticapitalist labor union IWW was fiercely repressed. Later, in the 1920s, the city saw the influx of African-Americans as part of the Great Migration from the American South. The Harlem Renaissance blossomed during this period, part of a larger boom in the Prohibition era that saw the city's skyline transformed by construction of the skyscrapers that have come to define New York. New York overtook London as the most populous city in the world in
1925, ending that city's century-old claim to the title.
New York City suffered during the Great Depression, which saw the end of Tammany Hall's eighty years of political dominance with the 1934 election of reformist mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The city's government and infrastructure underwent a dramatic overhaul under LaGuardia and his controversial parks commissioner Robert Moses.
New York City played a major role in World War II as a port and a center of finance and industry. It emerged from the war as the unquestioned leading city of the world, with Wall Street leading America's emergence as the world's dominant economic power, the United Nations headquarters (built in 1952) emphasizing its political influence, and the rise of Abstract Expressionism displacing Paris as the center of the art world.
However, the growth of post-war suburbs saw a slow decline in the city's population. A decline in manufacturing, rising crime rates and white flight pushed New York into a social and economic crisis in the 1970s. These problems plagued the city until the 1990s. Racial tensions calmed in these years; a dramatic fall in crime rates, improvements in quality of life, economic growth and new immigration renewed the formerly dying city.
The city was one of the sites of the September 11, 2001 attacks, when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the destruction of the city's tallest buildings, the World Trade Center. The Freedom Tower, intended to be exactly 1,776 feet tall (a number symbolic of the year the Declaration of Independence was written), is to be built on the site and is slated for completion by 2012.
New York City is located at the center of the BosWash megalopolis, 218 miles (350 km) driving distance from Boston and 220 miles (353 km) from Washington, D.C. The city's total area is 468.9 square miles . The city is situated on the three major islands of Manhattan, Staten Island, and western Long Island. The Bronx is the only borough that is part of the mainland United States.
New York City's significance as a trading city results from the natural harbor formed by Upper New York Bay, which is surrounded by Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the coast of New Jersey. It is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island in Lower New York Bay.
The Hudson River flows from the Hudson Valley into New York Bay, becoming a tidal estuary that separates the Bronx and Manhattan from New Jersey. The East River, actually a tidal strait, stretches from the Long Island Sound to New York Bay, separating the Bronx and Manhattan from Long Island. The Harlem River, another tidal strait between the East and Hudson Rivers, separates Manhattan from the Bronx.
The city's land has been altered considerably by human intervention, with substantial land reclamation along the waterfronts since Dutch colonial times. Reclamation is most notable in Lower Manhattan with modern developments like Battery Park City. Much of the natural variations in topography have been evened out, particularly in Manhattan. One possible meaning for "Manhattan" is "island of hills"; in fact, the island was quite hilly before European settlement.
New York City, officially the "City of Greater New York", comprises five boroughs. Throughout the boroughs there are hundreds of distinct neighborhoods, many with a definable history and character all their own. If the boroughs were independent cities, each would be among the 50 most populous cities in the United States.
Manhattan (New York County, pop. 1,593,200) is the business center of the city, and the most superlatively urban of the boroughs. It is the most densely populated, and the home of most of the city's skyscrapers. It is loosely divided into downtown, midtown, and uptown regions.
The Bronx (Bronx County, pop. 1,357,589) is known as the birthplace of hip hop culture, as well as the home of the New York Yankees and the largest cooperatively owned housing complex in the United States, Co-op City. Excluding its minor islands, the Bronx is the only borough of the city that is on the mainland of the United States.
Brooklyn (Kings County, pop. 2,486,235), the most populous borough, was until 1898 an independent city and has a strong native identity. It ranges from a modern business district downtown to large historic residential neighborhoods in the central and south-eastern areas. It also features a long beachfront and Coney Island, famous as one of the earliest amusement grounds in the country.
Queens (Queens County, pop. 2,241,600) is geographically the largest borough and, according to the US census, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. Prior to consolidation with New York City it was composed of small towns and villages founded by the Dutch. It is home to the New York Mets, two of the region's three major airports, and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, site of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs and tennis' US Open
Staten Island (Richmond County, pop. 464,573) is the most suburban in character of the five boroughs, but has gradually integrated with the rest of the city since the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, an event that caused controversy and even an attempt at secession. Until 2001, Staten Island was the home of the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill, formerly the largest landfill in the world, and now being reconstructed as one of the largest urban parks in the United States.
Although located at a more southern latitude than Italian Tuscany or the French Riviera, New York has a humid continental climate resulting from prevailing wind patterns that bring cool air from the interior of the North American continent. New York winters are typically cold but somewhat milder than those of inland cities at a similar latitude in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Snowfall varies from year to year, usually averaging about 2 ft (60 cm) in total. Rain is more common than snow in winter, because the Atlantic Ocean helps keep temperatures warmer than in the interior Northeast, however, there has never been a winter since records began
in 1869 in which enough snow to cover the ground did not fall at least once.
The skyline of New York is one of the most recognizable in the world. New York actually has three separately recognizable skylines: Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, and Downtown Brooklyn. New York City has architecturally important buildings in a variety of styles, including French Second Empire (The Kings County Savings Bank Building), gothic revival (the Woolworth Building), Art Deco (the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building), international style (the New School, Seagram Building and Lever House), and post-modern (the AT&T Building). The Condé Nast Building is an important example of green design in American skyscrapers.
The residential parts of the city have a distinctive character from the skyscrapers of the commercial cores that is defined by the elegant brownstone rowhouses and apartment buildings which were built during the city's rapid expansion from 1870-1930. Stone and brick became the city's building materials of choice after the construction of wood-frame houses was limited in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1835. Unlike Paris, which for centuries was built from its own limestone bedrock, New York has always drawn its building stone from a far-flung network of quarries and its stone buildings have a variety of textures and hues.
Writer Tom Wolfe said of New York that "Culture just seems to be in the air, like part of the weather." Many major American cultural movements began in the city. The Harlem Renaissance established the African-American literary canon in the United States. The city was the epicenter of jazz in the 1940s, abstract expressionism in the 1950s, and the birthplace of hip hop in the 1970s. Punk rock developed in the 1970s and 1980s, and the city has also been a flourishing scene for Jewish American literature.
Wealthy industrialists in the 19th century built a network of major cultural institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that became internationally established. Artists are drawn to the city by opportunity, as well; there are 2,000 arts and cultural non-profits and 500 art galleries of all sizes, and the city government funds the arts with a larger annual budget than the National Endowment for the Arts.
The advent of electric lighting led to elaborate theatre productions, and in the 1880s New York City theaters on Broadway and along 42nd Street began showcasing a new stage form that came to be known as the Broadway musical. Strongly influenced by the city's immigrants, these productions used song in narratives that often reflected themes of hope and ambition. Today these productions are a mainstay of the New York theatre scene. The city's 39 largest theatres (with more than 500 seats) are collectively known as "Broadway," after the major thoroughfare through the Times Square theatre district.
The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which includes Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet, is the largest performing arts center in the United States.