New York City

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This is an article about New York City; see also NYC, New York, New York and New York.
Midtown Manhattan, looking north from the Empire State Building, 2005
Midtown Manhattan, looking north from the Empire State Building, 2005

New York City, officially named the City of New York, is the most populous city in the United States, the most densely populated major city in North America, and is at the center of international finance, politics, entertainment, and culture. New York City is one of the world's global cities, home to an almost unrivaled collection of world-class museums, galleries, performance venues, media outlets, international corporations, and stock exchanges. The city is also home to all of the international embassies to the United Nations, itself headquartered in New York City. New York is widely regarded as one of the great intellectual, financial, and cultural centers of the world.

Located in the state of New York, New York City has a population of 8,168,388 people contained within 309 square miles (800 km²), and is the heart of the New York Metropolitan Area, which is one of the largest urban conglomerations in the world with a population of over 22 million. New York City proper comprises five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, with all but Staten Island having populations exceeding one million. It also stands in the middle of the BosWash megalopolis that runs down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. (see: Metropolitan Combined Statistical Area)

The city includes large populations of immigrants from over 180 countries who help make it one of the most cosmopolitan places on earth. Many people from all over the United States are also attracted to New York City for its culture, energy, and cosmopolitanism, and by their own hope of making it big in the "Big Apple." The city serves as an enormous engine for the global economy, and is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other place in the United States. The city is estimated to have a Gross Metropolitan Product of nearly $500 billion. If it were a nation, the city would have the 17th highest gross domestic product in the world, far exceeding that of Switzerland ($377 billion) and nearly equaling that of Russia ($586 billion).

A resident of New York City is referred to as a New Yorker. Nicknames include "The Big Apple", "The City That Never Sleeps", or just "The City" (though to a New Yorker, this generally refers to the borough of Manhattan).

City of New York, New York
Official flag of City of New York, New York Official seal of City of New York, New York
City flag City seal
City nickname: "The Big Apple"
Location of City of New York, New York
Location in the state of New York
Bronx (The Bronx)
New York (Manhattan)
Queens (Queens)
Kings (Brooklyn)
Richmond (Staten Island)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R)
Physical characteristics
1,214.4 km²
     800.31 km²
     414.09 km²
     Total (2005)
21,858,830 (metropolitan area)
     8,168,388(city proper)
     10,292 (land)/km²
Latitude 40°47' N
Longitude 73°58' W
Time zone
     Summer (DST)
     EDT (UTC−4)
Official website: City of New York


History of New York City

Main article: History of New York City

Long before the arrival of European settlers, the New York City area was inhabited by the Lenape people, including such tribes as the Manahattoes, Canarsies and Raritan; Lenape in canoes met Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European explorer to enter New York Harbor, in 1524. Following the 1609 voyage of Henry Hudson, European settlement began with the founding of the Dutch fur trading settlement in Lower Manhattan in 1613 later called New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam) in the southern tip of Manhattan in 1624. Later in 1626, Peter Minuit established a long tradition of shrewd real estate investing when he purchased Manhattan Island and Staten Island from Algonquin tribesmen in exchange for trade goods (legend, now long disproved, has it that the island was purchased for $24 worth of glass beads). Minuit's settlement was also a haven for Huguenots seeking religious freedom.

History of New York City

Lenape and New Netherland
British and Revolution
Federal and early American
Tammany and Consolidation
Early 20th century
Post–World War II
Modern and post-9/11

New York City and the East River, 1848
New York City and the East River, 1848
The skyline of Lower Manhattan, with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (1973 – 2001).
The skyline of Lower Manhattan, with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (1973 – 2001).

In 1664, English ships captured the city without struggle, and the Dutch formally ceded it to the English in the Treaty of Breda at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1667. The city was renamed New York, after James, Duke of York, and became a royal colony in 1685 when James succeeded his brother as King of England.

New York was greatly damaged by fire during the Battle of Brooklyn at the start of the American Revolutionary War, and was occupied by the British until November 25, 1783. On this date, marked annually thereafter as "Evacuation Day", George Washington returned to the city and the last British forces left the United States. The Continental Congress met in New York City under the Articles of Confederation.

On September 13, 1788 the United States Constitutional Convention temporarily set New York City as the first capital of the U.S, and on April 30, 1789 the first President of the United States, George Washington, was inaugurated at Federal Hall on Wall Street. Philadelphia became the next U.S. capital in 1790.

During the 19th century, the city was transformed by immigration, a visionary development proposal called the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, which expanded the city street grid to encompass all of Manhattan, and the opening of the Erie Canal, which connected the Atlantic port to the vast agricultural markets of the Mid-western United States and Canada in 1819. By 1835, New York City overtook Philadelphia as the largest city in the United States. Local politics became dominated by Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party political machine. Public-minded members of the old merchant aristocracy pressed for a Central Park, which was opened to a design competition in 1857: it was the first landscape park in an American city.

During the American Civil War (18611865), the city's strong commercial ties to the South, its growing immigrant population, and anger about conscription led to divided sympathy for both the Union and Confederacy, culminating in the Draft Riots of 1863, the worst civil unrest in American history. After the Civil War, the rate of immigration from Europe grew steeply, and New York became the first stop for millions seeking a new and better life in the United States, a role acknowledged by the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886.

In two separate actions in 1874 and 1895, New York City (and New York County) annexed sections of southern Westchester County known as the Bronx. In 1898, New York City took the political form in which it exists to this day. Manhattan and the Bronx, though still one county, were established as two separate boroughs and joined together with three other boroughs created from parts of adjacent counties to form the new municipal government originally called "Greater New York". The Borough of Brooklyn incorporated the independent City of Brooklyn, recently joined to Manhattan by the Brooklyn Bridge, and several municipalities in eastern Kings County, New York; the Borough of Queens was created from western Queens County (with the remnant established as Nassau County in 1899); and The Borough of Staten Island contained all of Richmond County. All municipal (county, town and city) governments contained within the boroughs were abolished. In 1914, the New York State Legislature created Bronx county, making five counties coterminous with the five boroughs.

On June 15, 1904 over 1,000 people, mostly German Immigrants, were killed when the steamship General Slocum caught fire and burned on North Brother Island, in the East River; and on March 25, 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Greenwich Village took the lives of 145 female garment workers, which would eventually lead to great advancements in the city's fire department, building codes, and workplace regulations.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the city became a world center for industry, commerce, and communication. Interborough Rapid Transit (the first New York subway company) began operating in 1904, and the railroads operating out of Grand Central Terminal thrived. New York City became the most populous city in the world in 1925, overtaking London, which had reigned for a century. Despite the effects of the Great Depression, the 1930s saw the building of some of the world's tallest skyscrapers, including numerous Art-Deco masterpieces that are still part of the city's skyline today. Both before and after World War II, vast areas of the city were also reshaped by the rise of the bridges, parks and parkways of coordinator Robert Moses, the greatest proponent of automobile-centered modernist urbanism in America.

A post-World War II economic and residential boom was associated with returning veterans and immigration from Europe, and huge tracts of new housing were constructed in eastern Queens. In 1951, the United Nations relocated from its first headquarters in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, to the East Side of Manhattan. Like many U.S. cities, New York suffered population decline, an erosion of its industrial base, and race riots in the 1960s, and by the 1970s, the city had gained a reputation for being a crime-ridden relic of history. In 1975, the city government was on the brink of financial collapse and had to restructure its debt through the Municipal Assistance Corporation, headed by Felix Rohatyn. The city was also forced to accept increased scrutiny of its finances by an agency of New York State called the Financial Control Board.

The 1980s saw a rebirth of Wall Street, and the city reclaimed its role at the center of the world-wide financial industry. In the 1990s, crime rates dropped drastically and the outflow of population turned around, as the city once again became the destination not only of immigrants from around the world, but of many U.S. citizens seeking to live a cosmopolitan lifestyle that only New York City can offer. In the late 1990s, the city benefited disproportionately from the success of the financial services industry during the dot com boom, one of the factors in a decade of booming residential and commercial real estate value increases.

New York City was the site of a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people were killed by an al-Qaeda terrorist strike on the World Trade Center, including New Yorkers employed in the buildings, passengers and crew on two commercial jetliners, and hundreds of firemen, policemen, and rescue workers who came to the aid of the disaster. Thick, acrid smoke continued to pour out of its ruins for months following the Twin Towers' fiery collapse. The city has since rebounded and the physical cleanup of Ground Zero was completed ahead of schedule. 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 construction between 2006 and 2010.

Over the next ten years, the city expects a wave of public and private-sector building projects to reshape large sections of the city, and a residential construction boom has resulted in permits being issued for over 25,000 new residential units every year.

Boroughs and neighborhoods

The five boroughs: 1: Manhattan, 2: Brooklyn, 3: Queens, 4: Bronx, 5: Staten Island
The five boroughs: 1: Manhattan, 2: Brooklyn,
3: Queens, 4: Bronx, 5: Staten Island

Residents of the city often refer to the city itself as "the Five Boroughs," reserving the phrase "the City" for Manhattan, and referring to the other boroughs as "the Outer Boroughs", a term that some find pejorative or condescending. However, as more Manhattanites migrate outwards, fleeing sky-high rents, this usage is on the decline. Nonetheless, those less familiar with the city often (incorrectly) think Manhattan is synonymous with New York City. Through the boroughs, there are hundreds of neighborhoods in the city, many with a definable history and character all their own.

  • Manhattan (New York County, pop. 1,564,798) is the business center of the city, and the most superlatively urban. It is the most densely populated, and the home of most of the city's skyscrapers.

See: List of Manhattan neighborhoods

  • The Bronx (Bronx County, pop. 1,363,198) is known as the purported birthplace of hip hop culture, as well as being the home of the New York Yankees. Excluding its minor islands, the Bronx is the only borough of the city that is on the mainland of the United States.

See: List of Bronx neighborhoods

  • Brooklyn (Kings County, pop. 2,472,523) is the most populous borough, with a strong native identity. It ranges from a business district downtown to large residential tracts in the central and south-eastern areas.

See: List of Brooklyn neighborhoods

  • Queens (Queens County, pop. 2,225,486) is the most diverse county in the U.S., with more immigrants than anywhere else. Geographically it is the largest of the boroughs, and the legacy of its old constituent towns is still evident. It is also the borough that houses Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets, two of the three major airports, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park home to the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs.

See: List of Queens neighborhoods

  • Staten Island (Richmond County, pop. 459,737) is somewhat isolated and the most suburban in character of the five boroughs, but has become gradually more integrated into city life in recent decades, particularly since the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964, an event that bred controversy and even a recent attempt at secession.

See: List of Staten Island neighborhoods

New York City government

Main article: Government of New York City
New York's City Hall
New York's City Hall

New York City is governed pursuant to the New York City Charter, as amended. The charter is enacted and amended by the New York State legislature, and occasionally through referendum. Though subservient to the State of New York, the city enjoys a high degree of legislative and executive autonomy. Like most governmental entities in the United States, the city government is divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches.

The executive branch of New York City is headed by the Mayor, who is elected by direct popular vote. The Mayor of New York City appoints several Deputy Mayors to head major offices within the executive branch of the city government. Deputy Mayors report directly to the Mayor. They are:

  • Deputy Mayor for Operations
  • Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding
  • Deputy Mayor for Policy
  • Deputy Mayor for Administration
  • Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs

Legislative power in New York City is vested in a unicameral City Council, which contains 51 members, each representing a district of approximately 157,000 people. Council members are elected every four years, and the leader of the majority party is called the Speaker. Like most legislative bodies, the City Council is divided into committees which have oversight of various functions of the city government. Bills passed by a simple majority are sent to the mayor, who may sign it into law. If the mayor vetoes the bill, the Council has 30 days to override the veto by a two-thirds majority vote.

Unlike the rest of New York State, New York City does not have typical county courts. Instead, there is a single Civil Court, with a presence in each borough and city-wide jurisdiction, and a Criminal Court for each New York City county which handles lesser criminal offenses and domestic violence cases, a responsibility shared with the Family Court. Unlike other counties in New York, judges for Family Courts in New York City are appointed for ten year terms by the mayor, instead of being elected.

Geography and climate


Central Park in Manhattan looking south, February 2005, when the Christo installation The Gates was on display in the park (orange "gates" visible in photo)
Central Park in Manhattan looking south, February 2005, when the Christo installation The Gates was on display in the park (orange "gates" visible in photo)

New York City is situated among an archipelago of islands astride the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of North America, surrounding the fine New York Harbor, which was the very reason for the city's founding. The city itself has been built on the three major islands of Manhattan, Staten Island, and on western Long Island (Brooklyn and Queens), as well as on the mainland in the Bronx. There are also some smaller islands in the surrounding waters.

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, really 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.

Upper New York Bay is surrounded by Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the coast of New Jersey, and is connected by the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island to Lower New York Bay, which is partially surrounded by Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the coast of New Jersey, and opens to the Atlantic Ocean.

The shape of the land has been altered substantially by human intervention, with considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since Dutch times, most dramatically in Lower Manhattan, and continuing in 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). A number of smaller islands have been artificially enlarged, and the map of islands in Jamaica Bay has been completely transformed.


New York has a humid continental climate, though being adjacent to water it suffers less temperature fluctuation than inland areas. New York winters are typically cold (though not severely so; temperatures below 0 °F (-18 °C) only occur about once per decade on average), and sometimes feature snowstorms that can paralyze the city with over a foot (30 cm) of snow. Springs are mild, averaging in the 50s °F (10 to 15 °C) in late March to the lower 80s °F (25 to 30 °C) in early June. Summers in New York are hot and humid, with temperatures commonly exceeding 90 °F (32 °C), although high temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) are about as rare as subzero (F) lows in winter. Autumns are comfortable in New York and similar to spring in temperature. However, the weather is notably unpredictable, with mild, almost snowless winters (such as in 1997-98) and relatively cool summers (such as in 1992) an occasional surprise, and huge snowstorms arriving as late as the second week in April (significant snow after mid-March is fairly rare though). Temperatures have been as high as 106 °F (38 °C) set on July 9th, 1936 or have dipped as low as -15 °F (-26 °C) set on February 9th, 1934. These temperatures are not common and have not been matched or surpassed in more than six decades. Travelers are advised to check forecasts and bring several layers of clothing in late fall and in the early spring months (e.g., November, March, April).

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 35.31% water. Although most of the city is adequately above sea level, parts of it could be threatened in the future if the current patterns of global warming continue.


A typically diverse group of New Yorkers on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
A typically diverse group of New Yorkers on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
Main article: Demographics of New York City

As of the census2 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% Black or 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. 35.9% of the population is foreign born (18.9% born in Latin America, 8.6% Asia, 7.0% Europe). The ethnic makeup is 11.5% African-American, 9.8% Puerto Rican, 8.7% Italian, 5.3% Irish, 5.1% Dominican, and 4.5% Chinese.

City of New York
Population by year [1]
1790 33,131
1800 60,515
1810 96,373
1820 123,706
1830 202,589
1840 312,710
1850 515,547
1860 813,669
1870 942,292
1880 1,206,299
1890 1,515,301
1900 3,437,202
1910 4,766,883
1920 5,620,048
1930 6,930,446
1940 7,454,995
1950 7,891,957
1960 7,781,984
1970 7,894,862
1980 7,071,639
1990 7,322,564
2000 8,008,278

New York City is also home to the nation's largest community of American Jews, with an estimate of 972,000 in 2002, and is the worldwide headquarters of the Hasidic Lubavitch sect and the Bobover and Satmar branches of Hasidism.

There are 3,021,588 households with a median income of $38,293; 29.7% contain children under the age of 18 and 37.2% are married couples living together. 19.1% have a single female householder, and 38.7% are non-families. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.9% are single residents 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.59 and the average family size is 3.32.

Per capita income is $22,402; men and women have a median income of $37,435 and $32,949 respectively. 21.2% of the population and 18.5% of families are below the poverty line, of whom 30.0% are under the age of 18 and 17.8% are 65 and older.

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.

New York City's unemployment rate in March of 2005 was 5.2%, identical to the nationwide rate.

According to the U.S. Census, New York City has the largest estimated daytime population, at more than 8.5 million persons. The increase of more than half a million people over the nighttime population is bigger than that found in any other area. However, the 7 percent increase puts New York in the middle of the pack on percentage change among cities with more than a million residents.


Since 1991, New York City has seen a continuous fifteen-year trend of decreasing crime and is now the safest large city in the United States. Neighborhoods that were once considered dangerous are now thriving with new businesses and housing, and many residents feel safe to walk the streets late at night. Violent crime in the city has dropped by 75% in the last twelve years and the murder rate in 2004 was at its lowest level in over forty years: there were 572 murders that year, for a murder rate of 7 per 100,000 people (although it is still higher than the national rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people), compared to 2,245 murders in 1990. The murder rate is expected to drop even further at the end of 2005. Some feel that the implementation of COMPSTAT crime analysis by the New York Police Department in 1994 is responsible for the positive changes.

Overall, New York City had a rate of 2,801.6 crimes per 100,000 people in 2004, compared with 8,959.7 in Dallas; 7,903.7 in Detroit; 7,402.3 in Phoenix; 7,346.8 in San Antonio; 7,194.8 in Houston; 5,470.5 in Philadelphia; 4,376.0 in Los Angeles; and 4,102.7 in San Diego.


New Yorkers are famous for doing things "bigger and better," and this sometimes applies to criminal activity: Organized crime has been associated with New York City since the early 20th Century, when legendary mobsters Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano transformed it, although later decades are more famous for Mafia prosecutions (and prosecutors like Rudolph Giuliani) than for the influence of the Five Families. Another notorious crime story is the serial killings by the "Son of Sam", who on July 29, 1976 began a series of attacks that terrorized the city for the next year.

For New York City crime Statistics see the NYPD's Precinct Crime Statistics page.


Historically, the city developed because of New York Harbor, widely considered one of the finest natural ports in the world. The value of this port was greatly expanded upon in 1819 with the opening of the Erie Canal, which gave New York an enormous advantage over the competing ports of Boston and Philadelphia. The old port facility was at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, but today there is still residual activity remaining at Red Hook in Brooklyn, and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island. Red Hook, for instance, handles the majority of the cacao bean imports to the United States. Since the 1950s, most shipping activity in the area has shifted to Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey. But despite changes in international shipping, trade and the tertiary sector have always remained the real basis of New York's economy.

Manufacturing first became a major economic base for New York City in the mid-nineteenth century with the advent of industrialization and the railroad. New York was formerly a national center for clothing manufacture, and some continues, sometimes in sweatshops. There are still around 120,000 manufacturing jobs in the city compared to over a million in the middle of the 20th century. Like international shipping, though, manufacturing gradually declined in the late-twentieth century with rising land values. The city was also a first center of the American film industry, along with Chicago, Illinois, until it moved to Hollywood, California, and still has some television and movie production.

Today, New York City is the chief center of finance in the world economy, with Wall Street in Lower Manhattan's Financial District. Financial markets based in the city include the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, American Stock Exchange, New York Mercantile Exchange, and New York Board of Trade. Many corporations also have their headquarters in New York.

New York is also the center of many of the service sector industries in the U.S., with more Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the city than anywhere else in the country (including companies as prominent and diverse as Altria Group, Time Warner, American International Group, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, JetBlue, DC Comics, Estée Lauder, Sony Music Entertainment, and many others). The city is by far the most important center for American mass media, journalism and publishing. Manhattan's Madison Avenue is synonymous with the American advertising industry, while Seventh Avenue is nicknamed "fashion avenue" as it serves as an important center for the fashion industry. Ninety percent of the diamonds imported to the United States pass through New York, and most of these are handled and cut in the city's Diamond District on 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. New York also has the most important scenes for art, music, and theater in the U.S., with an increasingly active artists' community. The city also has a large tourism industry.

New York City's estimated gross metropolitan product of US$488.8 billion in 2003 was the largest of any city in the U.S. and the sixth largest if compared to any U.S. State. If it were a nation, the city would have the 16th highest gross domestic product in the world, exceeding that of Belgium ($387 billion), and the second highest per capita GDP in the world, at about $59,000/head, about $7,000/head lower than Luxembourg.

Culture of New Yorkers

Manhattan's Lower East Side
Manhattan's Lower East Side
Main article: Culture of New York City

New York City, sometimes called "The City That Never Sleeps," is famously fast-paced and active, and the American idiom "in a New York minute" means "immediately." The stereotypical "hard-boiled New Yorker" has a reputation as self-centered, rude, and impatient, and takes pride in the crowds, noise, and hardships of city life and often writes-off other cities as "not real cities". New York City residents are called "New Yorkers," although this term may also refer to suburbanites, and there is some use of borough-specific identifications, such as Manhattanites, Bronxites, Brooklynites, Queensites and Staten Islanders. Residents of the metropolitan area generally refer to New York City (or sometimes just Manhattan) as "The City," or "New York," and the acronym "NYC", as opposed to just "NY", helps to avoid confusing references to the State of New York. Other nicknames attributed to New York City include "the Big Apple", "Gotham", "the Naked City", "the Capital of the World", and the slogan introduced in 2005 by Mayor Bloomberg in an effort to win a bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, "the World's Second Home."

Immigration and international flavor

The Statue of Liberty in Upper New York Bay has welcomed many immigrants to the city.
The Statue of Liberty in Upper New York Bay has welcomed many immigrants to the city.
Jackson Heights, Queens is among the world's most diverse communities.
Jackson Heights, Queens is among the world's most diverse communities.

New York absorbs a greater diversity of immigrant groups than any other American city, and it absorbs a larger number of immigrants every day than all other U.S. cities except Los Angeles, giving New York an international flavor, and making it the archetype of the American ideal of a melting pot – a nation of immigrants. The city government employs translators in 180 languages.

The five boroughs are home to many distinct ethnic enclaves of Irish, Italians, Greeks, Chinese, Koreans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Jamaicans, African-Americans, Iranians, Arabs, Jews, South Asians and many others, and there are also many multi-ethnic neighborhoods where people of different backgrounds coexist comfortably. Regardless of ethnic origin, all groups share a common identity as New Yorkers.

Some celebrated ethnic/racial neighborhoods include Harlem, Little Italy, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Chinatown, Washington Heights, Briarwood, and the Lower East Side.

The Lower East Side and The East Village are where the term "The Melting Pot" came to be, referring to the droves of people from diverse European nations squeezing into this small, 100 block or so area of tenements, learning to live together for the first time.

Commuter culture

Because of traffic congestion and the well-designed New York Subway, six in ten residents, including many middle class professionals, commute to work via public transportation, making the everyday lifestyle and "pedestrian culture" of New Yorkers substantially different from the "car culture" that dominates most American cities. This pattern is strongest in Manhattan, where subway service is better and traffic is worse than in the outer boroughs. Even the city's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is a "straphanger" (subway commuter), and can be encountered on the train to City Hall each morning.

The great majority of Manhattan residents live in apartments in what is usually seen as a very expensive and crowded housing market, although there are immense neighborhoods of suburban-style homes in the outer boroughs. The median sale price of a Manhattan apartment in 2004 was $670,000 [2], with prices in the outer boroughs lower but rising. Many residents rent apartments, and some areas are under rent control and rent stabilization laws. With space at a premium, lack of closet space is a common problem, and self-storage is a strong local industry.

Current issues

New York City is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, which is centered around Canal Street in Manhattan.
New York City is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, which is centered around Canal Street in Manhattan.

No other American city has experienced the effects of gentrification to the same degree that New York City has. Beginning primarily in the 1990s, although in some cases earlier, neighborhoods that had been seen as less desirable or unsafe became entirely transformed by the arrival of young professionals, often preceded by artists and "hipsters". This process is exemplified by the cases of Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Manhattan's East Village and Lower East Side. Even such cultural landmarks such as CBGB have been forced to close because of the process. Although gentrification generally has led to lower crime, more business activity, and higher land values, many of the native residents of these communities have been adversely affected by the skyrocketing housing costs associated with these rapid changes.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, pride in the city and the New York way of life increased for many, though others may have shown signs of paranoia. Nationally, Americans felt increased solidarity with New Yorkers. Today, there is a palpable sense of optimism in New York, fear of terrorism has lessened dramatically, and a massive confluence of transportation infrastructure projects promises to greatly expand the city's economic potential. Drastic reductions in crime have changed "the ungovernable city" of the past into a remarkably civilized place, and recent polls show that a vast majority of New Yorkers think the city "is moving in the right direction."

Tourism and recreation

The Empire State Building, New York City's tallest building
The Empire State Building, New York City's tallest building

Tourism is a major local industry, with hundreds of attractions and 39 million tourists visiting the city each year on average. Many visitors make it a point to visit the Empire State Building, Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Wall Street, United Nations Headquarters, the American Museum of Natural History, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Brooklyn Bridge, among other attractions.

There are over 28,000 acres (113 km²) of parkland found throughout New York City, comprising over 1,700 separate parks and playgrounds. The best known of these is Central Park, which is one of the finest examples of landscape architecture in the world, as well as a major source of recreation for New Yorkers and tourists alike. Other major parks in the city include Riverside Park, Battery Park, Bryant Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, Washington Square Park, and Forest Park. The city also has 578 miles (930 km) of waterfront and over 14 miles (22 km) of public beaches.

Maritime attractions include the South Street Seaport, site of a historic port, and the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, housed in a World War II aircraft carrier docked on the Hudson River.

Shopping is popular with many visitors, with Fifth Avenue being a famous shopping corridor for luxury items. Macy's, the nation's largest department store, and the surrounding area of Herald Square are a major destination for more moderately-priced goods. In recent years 23rd Street has become a major location for "big-box" retailers. In southern Manhattan, Greenwich Village is home to hundreds of independent music and book stores, while the East Village continues to prevail as purveyors of all things "strange" and unusual which you can't find anywhere else. The "diamond district" (located on 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) is the city's main location for jewelry shopping, and SoHo, formerly the center of the New York art scene, is now famous for high-priced clothing boutiques, and the art galleries are now concentrated in Chelsea. There are also large shopping districts found in Downtown Brooklyn and along Queens Boulevard in Queens.

The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in New York on November 27, 1924. Since then this has been an annual event drawing tens of thousands of spectators and in later years millions of television viewers. Annually on New Year's Eve, hundreds of thousands of people congregate in Times Square to watch the ball drop as millions watch on television.

The World Trade Center was an important tourist destination before the September 11, 2001 attacks, which devastated the city and its tourist industry. The city was nearly devoid of tourists for months, and it took two years for the numbers to fully rebound with fewer international, but more domestic visitors. Now the World Trade Center site has itself become an important place for visitors to see.

Many tourists only think of New York in terms of Manhattan, but there are four other boroughs which, if they can't compete in skyscrapers, still offer other kinds of attractions. Brooklyn's old Coney Island is still a center of seaside recreation, with its beach, boardwalk, and amusement parks. Many enjoy the spectacular views available from the deck of the Staten Island Ferry. The Bronx Zoo is world-famous, and the Bronx Bombers don't play in Manhattan. Flushing, Queens is home to the legacy of the 1964 New York World's Fair (including the Unisphere), the U.S. Open in tennis and Shea Stadium.

Cultural institutions

New York is a city of great museums with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's assemblage of historic art, the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum's 20th century collection, and the American Museum of Natural History and its Hayden Planetarium focusing on the sciences. There are also many smaller specialty museums, from El Museo del Barrio with a focus on Latin American cultures to the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design. A number of the city's museums are located along the Museum Mile section of Fifth Avenue.

In addition to these museums, the city is also home to a vast array of spaces for opera, symphony, and dance performances. The largest of these is Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which is actually a complex of buildings housing 12 separate companies, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York City Ballet, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other notable performance halls include Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Media and entertainment

Main article: Media of New York City

Because of its sheer size and cultural influence, New York City has been the subject of many different, and often contradictory, portrayals in mass media. From the sophisticated and worldly metropolis seen in many Woody Allen films, to the chaotic urban jungle depicted in such movies as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, New York has served as the unwitting backdrop for virtually every conceivable viewpoint on big city life. New York’s portrayal on television is similarly varied, with a disproportionate number of crime dramas taking place in the city despite the fact that it is one of the safest cities in which to live in the United States. New York has also been the setting for countless works of literature, many of them produced by the city’s famously large population of writers (including Jonathan Franzen, Don Delillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, Thomas Pynchon, Susan Sontag, and many others).

New York City boasts over forty daily newspapers in several different languages, including such national heavyweights as The Wall Street Journal (daily circulation of 2.1 million) and The New York Times (1.6 million), and America's oldest continuously-published newspaper, The New York Post, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton.

New York City also has studios for the four major U.S. television networks, ABC, CBS the Fox Network, and NBC, as well as news organization CNN, and while the local film industry is dwarfed by that of Hollywood, its billions of dollars in revenue make it the second largest in the nation.

With its connection to media and communications and its mix of cultures and immigrants, New York City has had a long history of association with American music. The city has served as an important center for many different genres of music ranging from Big Band Era and jazz, from Punk Rock to Goth and Hip-hop (the latter of which is generally acknowledged as having originated in the Bronx around 1973).

The East Village and Lower East Side continue to shine as the city's premier destination for music (rock, blues, jazz, dance), art (mixed media) and indie theater (experimental, off-broadway.) From CBGB's to LaMama Theater to the Amato Opera House, this area is famous for having a "venue on every block."

The lights of Times Square
The lights of Times Square

See also


Main article: Broadway theatre

New York City boasts a highly active and influential theater district, which is centered around Times Square in Manhattan. It serves both as the center of the American theater industry, and as a major attraction for visitors from around the world. The dozens of theaters in this district are responsible for tens of thousands of jobs, and help contribute billions of dollars every year to the city's economy. Along with those of London’s West End theater district, Broadway theaters are considered to be of the highest quality in the world. Despite the name, many "Broadway" theaters do not lie on Broadway the street, and the distinction with Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway (which tend more toward experimental theater) is simply a reference to the seating capacity of the theater.

Professional sports

"The House that Ruth Built": Yankee Stadium in the Bronx
"The House that Ruth Built": Yankee Stadium in the Bronx

Although in much of the rest of the country American football has become the most popular professional sport, in New York City baseball arguably still stirs the most passion and interest. A "Subway Series" between city teams is a time of great excitement, and any World Series championship by either the New York Yankees or the New York Mets is considered to be worthy of the highest celebration, including a ticker-tape parade for the victorious team. For most American baseball fans, the most intense rivalry is between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, but in the city the rivalry between the Yankees and the Mets is just as fierce. Outsiders are frequently unaware that few baseball fans in New York are fans of both teams at once.

The New York metropolitan area is the only one in the United States with more than one team in each of the four major sports, with nine such franchises. At Madison Square Garden, 'the world's most famous arena,' New Yorkers can see the New York Knicks play NBA basketball, the New York Rangers play hockey, and the New York Liberty of the WNBA. New York's NFL teams, the New York Giants and New York Jets, play at Giants Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands. At the Continental Airlines Arena also in the meadowlands the New Jersey Nets play NBA basketball and the New Jersey Devils play NHL hockey. The New York Islanders are the third NHL team in the Metro area; they play their home games in Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. Nassau Coliseum is also the home of the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League.

New York City is also home to two minor league baseball teams that play in the short-season Class A New York - Penn League. The Brooklyn Cyclones are a New York Mets affiliate, and the Staten Island Yankees are affiliated with the New York Yankees.

New York has also buried more sports history than most American cities ever experience: Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 until 1957, was torn down in 1960, and the Polo Grounds in northern Harlem, just across the river from the Bronx's Yankee Stadium, was the home of the New York Giants of Major League Baseball from 1911 to 1957 (and the first home of the New York Mets) before being demolished in 1964. Also, many outsiders are unaware that the current Madison Square Garden is actually the fourth separate building to use that name; the first two were near Madison Square, hence the name, and the third was at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue.

Current sports issues include Bruce Ratner's proposal to move the New Jersey Nets to a new Brooklyn Nets Arena, and a proposal to build a West Side Stadium in Manhattan for the New York Jets in 2008. Both of these construction proposals have stirred considerable opposition, and may have had an impact on the City's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics (which went to London in the end). The West Side Stadium plan has been abandonded. After searching for other possible sites to locate a stadium, such as Flushing Meadows in Queens, the Jets finally signed an agreement with the Giants to build a new stadium to host both teams in the Meadowlands.

New York City was the host of the 1998 Goodwill Games


Main article: Transportation in New York City

Unlike most of America's car-oriented urban areas, public transportation is the common mode of travel for the majority of New York City residents. As of 2001, 50% of New York City households and only 20% of Manhattan households had access to a vehicle, as compared to more than 90% nationwide. [3]

The city is served by an extensive network of parkways and expressways, including four primary Interstate Highways enter the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area: I-78, I-80, I-87 and I-95. Interstate 287 serves as a partial beltway around the city, and there are numerous three-digit Interstates of I-78 and I-95.

Mass transit

Main article: Mass transit in New York City

New York City boasts the most extensive network of public transportation in the United States. The world-famous New York City Subway is operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). It is the most extensive subway system in the world when measured by mileage of track (656 miles of mainline track), and the fifth largest when measured by annual ridership (1.4 billion passenger trips in 2004). The subway system connects all boroughs except Staten Island, which is served by the Staten Island Railway via the free Staten Island Ferry (which connects to the 1 subway line). The city is also served by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's PATH subway system, which connects the borough of Manhattan to New Jersey. In addition to these, city residents rely on hundreds of bus lines, both publicly and privately operated (many to be taken over by the MTA sometime in 2005), which serve nearly all areas of the five boroughs. Because of the extensive mass transit system, many New Yorkers do not possess cars or even driver's licenses.

A typical subway entrance in the financial district.
A typical subway entrance in the financial district.

Responsibility for providing public transportation falls to a variety of government agencies and private corporations. Amtrak provides long-distance rail service. Short-distance rail, primarily for commuters from the suburbs, is operated by New Jersey Transit, the MTA (serving Long Island, Connecticut and regions in New York north of the city as the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad), and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which also operates regional bus terminals.


The Port Authority also owns and operates the four major airports in the New York City area, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Jamaica, Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, La Guardia Airport in Flushing, and Teterboro Airport in Teterboro, New Jersey. JFK tends to handle international traffic, whereas La Guardia tends to handle shorter domestic flights, and Newark handles both international and domestic; Teterboro is New York's primary general aviation airport, handling heavy business jet traffic together with cargo and medevac flights and some light plane traffic. The first airport in the city was Floyd Bennett Field, now closed as an airport and today part of Gateway National Recreation Area. The Port Authority also operates the AirTrain service, a train which connects the JFK and Newark airports to local subway and heavy rail systems.


Taxicabs are operated by private companies and licensed by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. There are two officially recognized car services in the city. "Medallion taxis," the familiar yellow cabs, are legally permitted to pick up passengers hailing them on the street. The T&LC also regulates and licenses livery cars, known locally as "car services", which are legally permitted to pick up only those customers who have called the car service's dispatcher and requested a car, although most of these pick up hailing passengers as well. Car services that are independently owned, and will solicit passengers on the street, are known in New York City lingo as "Gypsy Cabs". They are often found in areas not routinely visited by regular cabs, such as northern Manhattan.


Many private ferries are run by NY Waterway, which provides several lines across the Hudson River, New York Water Taxi, with lines connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, and other operators. There is also the free Staten Island Ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island, operated by the New York City Department of Transportation.

Education and scientific research

Colleges and universities

Brooklyn College is famous for its well tended campus.
Brooklyn College is famous for its well tended campus.

New York City is served by the publicly-run City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban university in the United States, which has a number of campuses throughout the five boroughs. The city is also home to a number of other institutions of higher learning, some of national or even international reputation, including Columbia University, Fordham University, New York University, the Juilliard School,The Cooper Union, and The New School

New York City is also a major center of academic medicine. Manhattan contains the campuses of the world-class Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, as well as Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and NYU Medical Center and their medical schools. In the Bronx, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is a major academic center. Jonas Salk, developer of the vaccine for polio, was an intern at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Upper Manhattan. Brooklyn also hosts one of the country's leading urban medical centers: SUNY Downstate Medical Center, an academic medical center, the oldest hospital-based medical school in the United States. Professor Raymond Vahan Damadian, the inventor of the MRI, was part of the faculty from 1967 - 1977 and built the first MRI machine, the Indomnitable, there.

New York City is home to several of the nation's top schools of art and design, including Pratt Institute, the School of Visual Arts, and Parsons School of Design.

Public schools

The city-run New York City Department of Education covers the entire city limits and operates almost all of the city's public schools. One exception is Hunter College High School, which is run by Hunter College and charges no tuition.

Dedication to the sciences starts early for many New Yorkers, who have the chance to attend such selective specialized high schools as the Bronx High School of Science (which boasts the largest number of graduates who are Nobel Laureates of any high school in the world), and its rivals, Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn Technical High School. The Brooklyn High School of the Arts is the only high school in the United States with a curriculum in Historic Preservation.

See also


New York City has by far the most famous skyline in the world; because of its high residential density, and the extremely high real estate values found in the city's central business districts, New York has amassed the largest collection of office and residential towers in the world. In fact, New York actually has three separately recognizable skylines: Midtown Manhattan, Downtown Manhattan (also known as Lower Manhattan), and Downtown Brooklyn. The largest of these skylines is in Midtown, which is the largest central business district in the U.S., and also home to such notable buildings as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center. The Downtown skyline comprises the third largest central business district in the U.S. (after Midtown and Chicago's Loop), and was once characterized by the presence of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Today it is undergoing the rapid reconstruction of Lower Manhattan, and will include the Freedom Tower, which will rise to a height of 1,776 feet when completed in 2010. The Downtown skyline will also be getting notable additions soon from such architects as Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry.

New York City has a long history of tall buildings. It has been home to 10 buildings that have held the world's tallest fully inhabitable building title at some point in history, although half have since been demolished. The first building to bring the world's tallest title to New York was the New York World Building, in 1890. Later, New York City was home to the world's tallest building for 75 continuous years, starting with the Park Row Building in 1899 and ending with 1 World Trade Center upon completion of the Sears Tower in 1974. One of the world's earliest skyscrapers, still standing in the city, is the Park Row Building, built in 1899.

The Downtown Brooklyn skyline is the smallest of the three New York City skylines, and is centered around a major transportation hub in Northwestern Brooklyn. The borough of Queens has also been developing its own skyline in recent years with a Citigroup office building (which is currently the tallest building in NYC outside Manhattan), and the City Lights development of several residential towers along the East River waterfront.

Panorama of skyline.
Panorama of skyline.


see also List of New York City lists

  • New York City finally reached the 8 million population mark in the 2000 census; the population had crossed the 7 million mark in the 1940 census.
  • With over 8 million residents, New York City has a larger population than 39 U.S. states. It has more than twice the population of Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, and more than 27 times the population of Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York.
  • If each borough — Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island — were to become an independent city, they would rank as the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th, and 42nd largest cities in the U.S., respectively.
  • Approximately two out of five New York State residents live in New York City.

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