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New York, New York
New York -- often called New York City to distinguish it from the state in
which it is located -- is the largest city in the state of New York and in
the United States. Affectionately known as "The Big Apple," New York is by
many measures one of the most important cities in the world. The city is
probably the world's most important financial center, and one of the most
important cultural centers of the Western world. The United Nations
headquarters is in New York, giving some credence to the city's
self-designation as "capital of the world".
The City of New York is composed of 5 boroughs, each a county of New York
* Manhattan - New York County, population 1,537,195
* Bronx - Bronx County, population 1,332,650
* Brooklyn - Kings County, population 2,465,326
* Queens - Queens County, population 2,229,379
* Staten Island - Richmond County, population 443,728
(Population figures from 2000 United States Census, see
http://www.census.gov/ for more information).
The boroughs, although legally counties, do not have separate county
governments. Each borough elects a Borough President, but under the current
city charter, the Borough President's powers are limited--he or she has a
small discretionary budget to spend on projects within the borough. (The
last significant power of the borough presidents -- to appoint a member of
the Board of Education -- was abolished, with the board, on June 30, 2002.)
New York City is among the most densely populated places in the United
States. The population of the City of New York is more than eight million
(2000 US Census), the land area of the city is 831 square kilometers; hence
the density is ca. 10,000 / sq km. The population of the entire metropolitan
area is around 20 million. See also .
A resident of New York City is a New Yorker. Residents generally refer to
New York City (or just Manhattan) as "New York" or "the city". Ambiguity is
resolved by writing "NYS" for the state and "NYC" for the city.
New York has had a reputation as a crime-ridden city, partly due to the
hundreds of TV and movie crime dramas set in it. However, in recent years it
has been ranked in the top ten safest large cities in the United States by
City Crime Rankings (9th edition, 2003). In addition, New York has been
growing safer for most of the last decade--FBI data indicate that the murder
rate in 2000 was the lowest since 1967.
There have been some notorious crime sprees, however. For example, on July
29, 1976 the "Son of Sam" pulled a gun from a paper bag killing one person
and seriously wounding another in the first of a series of attacks that
terrorized the city for the next year.
The current mayor of New York City is Michael Bloomberg, elected in 2001 on
the Republican ticket. Bloomberg had come to prominence as an expert on Wall
Street, which had brought him great wealth, but the mayoralty is his first
political office. Bloomberg had been a Democrat until only a short time
earlier, but switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor, in order to
avoid a crowded Democratic primary. Bloomberg succeeded Rudy Giuliani, who
actively supported Bloomberg as his successor.
Giuliani had been a very controversial mayor. His bid for United States
Senator from New York State was aborted by treatment for cancer and
controversy over his affair with Judith Nathan. He handled the aftermath of
the World Trade Center disaster well, providing much-needed leadership, and
greatly increased his popularity.
Although New York's harbour was first discovered by Giovanni da Verrazano
during his expedition of 1524, the history of New York City properly begins
with the Dutch settlement of 1624. That town, at the southern tip of
Manhattan, was called New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam), and was the main city
of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. The Dutch origins can still be seen
in many names in New York City, such as Brooklyn (from Breukelen), Harlem
(from Haarlem), The Bronx (from Pieter Bronck) and Staten Island. The island
of Manhattan was in some measure self-selected as a future metropolis by its
extraordinary natural harbor formed by New York Bay (actually an arm of the
Atlantic Ocean), the East River (actually a tidal strait) and the Hudson
River, all of which are confluent at the southern tip, from which all later
development spread. Also of prime importance was the presence of deep fresh
water aquifers near the southern tip, especially the Collect Pond.
In 1664, British ships captured the city, with minimal resistance: the
governor at the time, Peter Stuyvesant, was unpopular with the residents of
the city. The British renamed the colony New York, after James II of
England, who sponsored the takeover and who was at that time the Duke of
York. The city grew northward, and remained the largest and most important
city in the colony of New York.
St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in New York City for the first time at the
Crown and Thistle Tavern on March 17, 1756. This holiday has since become a
yearly city-wide celebration that is famous around the world as the St.
Patrick's Day Parade.
Several battles were fought in New York during the Revolutionary War; the
British defeated George Washington's troops, and held the city until the war ended.
New York was briefly the capital of the new United States of America, in
1789 and 1790, and George Washington was inaugurated as President in New
York, then the nation's second largest city.
The building of the Erie Canal, in the 1820s, helped the city grow further
by increasing river traffic upstate and to the west. By 1835 Manhattan
overtook Philadelphia as the most populous city and established itself as
the financial and mercantile capital of the western hemisphere. A nearly
pure form of capitalism created a large upper-middle and upper class, but
its need for manpower encouraged immigration on an unprecedented scale, with
mixed results. The famed melting pot was brought into being, from which
multitudes have since arisen in the successful pursuit of the "American
Dream". But countless others failed to rise, or entire generations were
forced to plough themselves under for their children or grandchildren to
rise. In the mid-1800s these antipodes could be found in the fabulously rich
stretches of lower Broadway (wealth that would later take up residence on
Fifth Avenue) and the almost unbelievably squalid enclave of Five Points
(abject poverty later to take up residence in the Lower East Side).
During the American Civil War on July 13, 1863 draft opponents began three
days of rioting which later would be regarded as the worst in United States
The modern city of New York -- the five boroughs -- was created in 1898, as
the merger of the cities of New York (then Manhattan and the Bronx) and
Brooklyn with the largely rural areas of Queens and Staten Island.
The building of the New York subway, as the separate IRT and BMT systems,
and the later IND, was a later force for population growth and development.
The first IRT line opened in 1904.
The world-famous Grand Central Terminal opened as the world's largest train
station on February 1, 1913.
Starting in the early 1900s, New York City became known for its daring and
impressive architecture. 1902's Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue between
22nd and 23rd Streets still attracts sightseers. 1913's Woolworth Building
at 233 Broadway collected alternate names like "The Cathedral of Commerce"
and "God's Cash Register". 1930's Chrysler Building on Lexington Avenue and
42nd Street is considered by many to be the purest expression of the
skyscraper form, while 1931's Empire State Building at 350 Fifth Avenue is
often considered the grandest. When the World Trade Center towers were
completed in 1973 many felt them to be sterile monstrosities, but most New
Yorkers became fond of "The Twin Towers" and after the initial horror for
the loss of life in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack there came great
sadness for the loss of the buildings.
An electrical blackout hit the City of New York on July 13, 1977, lasting
for 25 hours and resulted in looting and other disorder. Nine months later a
small baby boom hit the city.
Financial crisis hit the city in the mid-1970s, when it briefly appeared
that the city might have to declare bankruptcy (see John Lindsay). The
fiscal crisis resulted largely from the combination of generous welfare
spending by the city government in the 1960s and the stock market and
economic stagnation of the 1970s. President Gerald R. Ford earned the enmity
of many New Yorkers when he refused to use federal money to "bail out" the
city. The New York Daily News famously summarized Ford's decision in a
headline: "Ford to City: Drop Dead".
The city rebounded in the 1990s due to an unprecedented expansion in the
national economy and the stock market boom (or bubble) of the same decade.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, is credited by many for
revitalizing Times Square and making the city more "liveable" by cracking
down on crime. Critics argue, however, that the drop in crime came at the
price of greater friction between police and the city's people of color, and
less concern for civil liberties, while others point out that other cities
achieved similar drops in crime. Supporters of the former mayor reply that
crime in the city fell more rapidly during Giuliani's term than in most
other major U.S. cities, such as Detroit or Los Angeles.
New Yorkers lived through the city's bloodiest and perhaps most tragic day
on September 11, 2001, when hijackers linked to the jihadist organization
Al-Qaeda piloted jumbo jets into each of the World Trade Center towers. The
airplanes, designated for cross-country flights and therefore engorged with
jet fuel, slammed into the towers in the early morning hours of September
11. The crashes ripped gaping holes into the buildings, and ignited fires
that brought the towers down. Nearly 3000 people, including both New Yorkers
and visitors to the city, perished in the attack, including several hundred
police officers and firefighters.
On February 27, 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC),
after receiving input from thousands of people all over the world, revealed
the design for the World Trade Center site. Designed primarily by renowned
architect Daniel Libeskind, the plans envision a 1,776-foot-tall tower to
help restore the Manhattan skyline to its former grandeur. The site pays
homage to the tragedy by leaving intact the slurry wall (which withstood the
force of the destruction and held the waters of the Hudson river back), and
by keeping the footprints of the towers available as a memorial site.
On July 23, 2003, 31-year-old Othniel Askew, a Brooklyn resident and
political rival of City Councilmember James E. Davis, fired multiple
gunshots in the City Hall chambers of the New York City Council, killing
Davis. New York City Police Officer Richard Burt, who was on a special
security detail in the Council Chamber, shot and killed Askew. According to
news reports, Askew appeared at Councilmember Davis's Brooklyn office and
drove with him to the New York City Hall. The security guards permitted both
men to circumvent the security posts. (Under an agreement between the City
and the City Council, councilmembers and their staff and guests were allowed
to enter the building without a security check.) Since the shooting,
however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that everyone (including
himself) wishing to enter City Hall must go through the security checkpoints.
An electrical blackout rolled through the Northeastern United States and
Southern Canada on August 14, 2003 at 4:11 PM, leaving many areas, including
NYC, without electricity for over a day. There was no major looting or other
crime, unlike in the blackout of 1977 (see 2003 US-Canada blackout).
New York City comprises Manhattan Island, Staten Island, the western part of
Long Island, part of the North American mainland (the Bronx), and several
small islands in New York Harbor.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of
1,214.4 km² (468.9 mi²). 785.6 km² (303.3 mi²) of it is
land and 428.8 km² (165.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is
As of the census of 2000, there are 8,008,278 people, 3,021,588 households,
and 1,852,233 families residing in the city. The population density is
10,194.2/km² (26,402.9/mi²). There are 3,200,912 housing units at
an average density of 4,074.6/km² (10,553.2/mi²). The racial
makeup of the city is 44.66% White, 26.59% African American, 0.52% Native
American, 9.83% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 13.42% from other races, and
4.92% from two or more races. 26.98% of the population are Hispanic or
Latino of any race.
There are 3,021,588 households out of which 29.7% have children under the
age of 18 living with them, 37.2% are married couples living together, 19.1%
have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.7% are
non-families. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.9%
have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average
household size is 2.59 and the average family size is 3.32.
In the city the population is spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18,
10.0% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who
are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100
females there are 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there
are 85.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $38,293, and the median
income for a family is $41,887. Males have a median income of $37,435 versus
$32,949 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,402. 21.2% of
the population and 18.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the
total people living in poverty, 30.0% are under the age of 18 and 17.8% are
65 or older.
Famous buildings, sites, and monuments
o Times Square
* Bronx Zoo
* Brooklyn Botanic Garden
* Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
* Central Park
o Strawberry Fields Memorial
* Chrysler Building
* Columbia University
* Empire State Building
* Flatiron Building
* Grand Central Terminal (in second or third incarnation, earlier version
was demolished in 1910s to make way for present GCT)
* Grand Army Plaza
* Madison Square Garden (currently in fourth incarnation)
* New York Botanical Garden
* New York Public Library
* Pennsylvania Station (currently in second incarnation as basement of
Madison Square Garden)
* Prospect Park
* Rockefeller Center
* St. Patrick's Cathedral
* Singer Building (demolished)
* Statue of Liberty
* United Nations headquarters
* Wall Street
o New York Stock Exchange
* Washington Square Park
o New York University campus
* Woolworth Building
* World Trade Center (destroyed)
* Ebbetts Field (destroyed) - former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers (Now
known as the Los Angeles Dodgers)
* Shea Stadium - home of the New York Mets
* Yankee Stadium - home of the New York Yankees
* American Museum of Natural History
* Brooklyn Museum of Art
* Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
* Metropolitan Museum of Art - commonly called "The Met"
o The Cloisters -- Castle & medieval art on a hill in Washington
Heights, Manhattan, part of the Met
* Museum of Modern Art - MoMA, currently displaying work in Queens (at a
location called MoMA QNS, normally on 53rd St.
* Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
* New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) comprises
o New York City Transit (NYC Transit Authority): the 5th largest
metro system in the world (here called subway), the largest of the
US; also the largest bus system of North America.
o Long Island Railroad (LIRR)
o Long Island Bus
o Metro North Railroad (MNRR)
o Staten Island Railway until recently known as Staten Island Rapid
* Amtrak: from Pennsylvania Station long-distance trains, including the
Acela high speed rail
* Roosevelt Island Tramway: aerial tramway from the main island of
Manhattan to Roosevelt Island
* NYC Department of Transportation runs the free Staten Island Ferry
* many taxis, licensed by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission
* many ferries run by NY Waterway, New York Water Taxi, and other
* Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates:
o three local airports: JFK International Airport in Jamaica, New
York, Newark Liberty International in Newark, New Jersey, and
LaGuardia Airport in Flushing, New York
o Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) railroad
o Port Authority Bus Terminal for long-distance buses (operated by
o under construction: AirTrain automated people mover
(short-distance driverless metro) connecting JFK Airport with the
main metro system and the Long Island Railroad; it is expected to
be ready in 2003.
* 1853 - Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations (1853)
* 1909 - Hudson-Fulton Celebration (1909)
* 1939 - 1939 New York World's Fair exhibits included The World of
Tomorrow Futurama Trylon Perisphere
* 1964 - 1964/1965 New York World's Fair
* 2001 - September 11 Terrorist Attack
* 2003 - Northeastern US/Canada Blackout
Crimes, Disasters, Assassinations
* On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was killed in front of his home, the
The Dakota building.
* New York is also the location of what was, according to many experts,
the most devastating act of terrorism in modern history: the September
11, 2001 attack that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade
Center and several surrounding buildings.
* On 23 July 2003, 31-year-old Othniel Askew, a Brooklyn resident and
political rival of City Councilmember James E. Davis, fired multiple
gunshots in the City Hall chambers of the New York City Council,
killing Davis. New York City Police Officer Richard Burt, who was on a
special security detail in the Council Chamber, shot and killed Askew.
According to news reports, Askew appeared at Councilmember Davis's
Brooklyn office and drove with him to the New York City Hall. The
security guards permitted both men to circumvent the security posts.
(Under an agreement between the City and the City Council,
councilmembers and their staff and guests were allowed to enter the
building without a security check.) Since the shooting, however, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg has announced that everyone (including himself)
wishing to enter City Hall must go through the security checkpoints.
New York, New York is also a pop standard, with a famous rendition by Frank
Sinatra. The song gave its name to a film directed by Martin Scorsese (see
New York, New York (film)).