New York

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State of New York
State flag of New York State seal of New York
(Flag of New York) (Seal of New York)
State nickname: The Empire State
Map of the U.S. with New York highlighted
- Capital Albany
Largest city New York City
Governor George Pataki (R)
Senators Charles Schumer (D)

Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)

Official languages None (English is de facto)
Area 141,205 km² or 54,556 square miles (27th)
 - Land 122,409 km²
 - Water 18,795 km² (13.3%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 19,190,115 (3rd)
 - Density 155.18 /km² (6th)
Admission into Union
 - Date July 26, 1788
 - Order 11th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Latitude 40°29'40"N to 45°0'42"N
Longitude 71°47'25"W to 79°45'54"W
Width 455 km
Length 530 km
 - Highest point 1,629 m
 - Mean 305 m
 - Lowest point 0 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-NY
Web site
The Empire State
State animal Beaver
(Castor canadensis)
State bird Eastern Bluebird
(Sialia sialis)
State fish Brook Trout
State insect Ladybug
State flower Rose (Rosa)
State motto "Excelsior"
State song "I Love New York"
State tree Sugar Maple
(Acer saccharum)
State fossil Sea Scorpion
(Eurypterus remipes)
State gem Garnet
State beverage Milk
State fruit Apple
State shell Bay Scallop
State muffin Apple Muffin

New York is a state in the northeastern United States. It is sometimes called New York State when there is need to distinguish it from New York City, the most populated city in both the state and in the nation. Due to the preponderance of the population concentrated in the southern portion around New York City, the state is often regionalized into Upstate and Downstate. New York's postal abbreviation is NY.



Main article: History of New York

Early settlement

The first European settlers in the area now known as the U.S. State of New York were Dutch settlers in the colony known as New Netherland, beginning in 1613. The English took over in 1664, renaming the colony New York, after the Duke of York, the future King James II. On November 1, 1683, the government was reorganized. The state was divided into twelve counties, each of which was subdivided into towns. The territory of New York extended much farther north than present-day New York State. Two of New York's counties, Cornwall and Dukes, later became parts of Massachusetts and Maine.


New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States. Its constitution, based on its colonial charter, and ratified in 1777, called for a weak bicameral legislature and a strong executive. It retained provisions from the colonial charter such as the substantial property qualification for voting, and the ability of the governor to disband the elected legislature. This imbalance of power between the branches of state government kept the elite firmly in control, and disenfranchised most New Yorkers who would fight the Revolutionary War. Slavery was legal in New York until 1827.

Westward expansion

The western part of New York had been settled by the 6 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy for at least 500 years before Europeans came. The Iroquois had maintained the area between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes by annual burning as a grassland prairie, abounding in wild game including grazing American Bison herds. In colonial times, the Iroquois were prosperous, growing corn, vegetables and orchards, and keeping cows and piggies; fish and game were abundant.

The colonial charter of New York granted unlimited westward expansion. Massachusetts' charter had the same provision, causing territorial disputes between the colonies and with the Iroquois. During the war, four of the Iroquois nations fought on the side of the British. In 1779, Major General John Sullivan was sent to defeat the Iroquois. The Sullivan Expedition moved northward through the Finger Lakes and Genesee Country, burning all the Iroquois communities, destroying their crops and their orchards. Refugees fled to Fort Niagara, where they spent the following winter in hunger and misery. Hundreds died of exposure, hunger and disease. After the war, many moved to Canada.

Sullivan's men returned from the campaign to Pennsylvania and New England to tell of the enormous wealth of this new territory. Many of them were given land grants in gratitude for their service in the Revolution. From 1786 through 1797 several groups of wealthy land speculators entered into agreements with one another, with neighboring states, and with the Indians to obtain title to vast tracts of land in western New York. Some purchases of Iroquois lands are the subject of numerous modern-day land claims by the individual nations of the Six Nations.


Transportation in western New York was difficult before canals were built in the early part of the nineteenth century. The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers could be navagated only as far as Central New York. The St. Lawrence River could be navagated to Lake Ontario the way westward to the other Great Lakes was blocked by Niagara Falls, and so the only route to western New York was over land. Governor DeWitt Clinton strongly advocated building a canal to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie, and thus all the Great Lakes. Work commenced in 1817, and the Erie Canal was finished in 1825. The canal opened up vast areas of New York to commerce and settlement, and enabled port cities such as Buffalo to grow and prosper. The Welland Canal was completed in 1833, bypassing Niagara Falls to connect Lakes Ontario and Erie.

Law and government

As in all fifty states, the head of the executive branch of government is a Governor. The legislative branch is called the Legislature and consists of a Senate and an Assembly. Unlike most States, the New York electoral law permits electoral fusion, and New York ballots tend to have, in consequence, a larger number of parties on them, some being permanent minor parties that seek to influence the major parties and others being ephemeral parties formed to give major-party candidates an additional line on the ballot.

New York's legislature is notoriously dysfunctional. The Assembly has long been controlled by the Democrats, the Senate has long been controlled by the Republicans, and there is little change in membership election to election. From 1984 through 2004, no budget was passed on time, and for many years the legislature was unable to pass legislation for which there was supposed to be a consensus, such as reforming the so-called Rockefeller drug laws.

In presidential elections, New York tends to support Democratic candidates and has done so consistently beginning in 1988, mainly because of the weight of New York City, a Democratic and Liberal stronghold. In 2004, New York gave John Kerry a comfortable margin of 18 percentage points and 58.4% of the vote. Many counties of Upstate New York, especially in rural areas, voted for the Republican candidate. However, this is with the notable exception of those Upstate counties with large cities, such as Erie County (Buffalo), Monroe County (Rochester), Onondaga County (Syracuse), Tompkins County (Ithaca), and Albany County (Albany), as well as several others which voted Democratic in 2004.

In 2002, 16,892 bills were introduced in the New York legislature, more than twice as many as in the Illinois General Assembly, whose members are the second most prolific. Of those bills, only 4 percent (693) actually became law, the lowest passing percentage in the country. In 2004, over 17,000 bills were introduced.

New York's legislature also has more paid staff (3,428) than any other legislature in the nation. Pennsylvania, whose staff is the second largest, only has 2,947, and California only 2,359. New York's legislature also has more committees than any other legislature in the nation.

New York's subordinate political units are its 62 counties. Other officially incorporated governmental units are towns, cities, and villages.

For decades it has been the established practice for Albany to pass legislation for some meritorious project, but then mandate county and municipal government to actually pay for it. New York State has its counties pay a higher percentage of welfare costs than any other state and New York State is the only state which requires counties to pay a portion of Medicaid.

The court system in New York is notable for its "backwards" naming: the state's trial court is called the New York Supreme Court, while the highest court in the state is the New York Court of Appeals.


New York State's borders touch (clockwise from the northwest) two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario, which are connected by the Niagara River), one former (briefly) Great Lake (Lake Champlain), the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, three New England states (Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), the Atlantic Ocean, and two Mid-Atlantic states (New Jersey and Pennsylvania). In addition, Rhode Island shares a water border with New York.

Map of New York
Map of New York - PDF

New York is also the site of the only extra-territorial enclave within the boundaries of the USA, the United Nations compound on Manhattan's East River.

The southern tip of New York State—New York City, its suburbs, and the southern portion of the Hudson Valley—can be considered to form the central core of a "megalopolis," a super-city stretching from the northern suburbs of Boston to the southern suburbs of Washington and therefore occasionally called "BosWash". First described by Jean Gottmann in 1961 as a new phenomenon in the history of world urbanization, the megalopolis is characterized by a coalescence of previous already-large cities of the Eastern Seaboard, a heavy specialization on tertiary activity related to government, trade, law, education, finance, publishing and control of economic activity, plus a growth pattern not so much of more population and more area as more intensive use of already existing urbanized area and ever more sophisticated links from one specialty to another. Several other groups of megalopolis-type super-cities exist in the world, but that centered around New York City was the first described and still is the best example.

The megalopolis, however, is not the only aspect of New York State. While best known for New York City's urban atmosphere, especially Manhattan's skyscrapers, by contrast the rest of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. Few people know that New York's Adirondack State Park is larger than any National Park in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario is a popular attraction; the best view is from the Canadian side. The Hudson River begins with Lake Tear of the Clouds and flows south through the eastern part of the state without draining Lakes George or Champlain. Lake George empties at its north end into Lake Champlain, whose northern end extends into Canada, where it drains into the Richelieu and then the St Lawrence Rivers. Four of New York City's five boroughs are on the three islands at the mouth of the Hudson River: Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Long Island.

The five New York City boroughs (and their counties) are: (1) The Bronx (Bronx), on the mainland, north of (2) Manhattan (New York) on Manhattan Island. The Hudson River is their western boundary. (3) Brooklyn (Kings) and (4) Queens (Queens) are across the East River from Manhattan on the western end of Long Island, and (5) Staten Island (Richmond) is south of Manhattan. The eastern end of Long Island includes the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk, which, however, are not part of New York City.

The current New York license plate, introduced in 2001. It features New York City to the right, Mount Marcy in the middle, and Niagara Falls to the left.
The current New York license plate, introduced in 2001. It features New York City to the right, Mount Marcy in the middle, and Niagara Falls to the left.

"Upstate" is a common term for New York State north of the New York City metropolitan area. Which of the suburban counties north of The Bronx along the Hudson River (Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam) are included in the Upstate region depends on who is using this term. Upstate New York typically includes the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, the Shawangunk Ridge, the Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes in the west and Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Oneida Lake in the northeast, and rivers such as the Delaware, Genesee, Hudson, Mohawk, and Susquehanna. The highest elevation in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.

East of Manhattan extends the appropriately named Long Island, stretching approximately 120 miles (190 km) from Kings (Brooklyn) and Queens Counties (part of New York City) on the western end to Orient and Montauk Points in the rural "East End" of the Island. The two counties that are encountered as one travels east from New York City are Nassau and Suffolk. Three of Suffolk County's ten towns—Brookhaven, Riverhead, and Southampton—are host to the 102,500 acre (415 km²) state designated and protected Central Pine Barrens region. This remarkably undeveloped region overlies part of Long Island's federally designated Sole Source Aquifer which provides drinking water to nearly three million residents, and it contains terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of statewide and national significance, interconnected surface and ground waters, recreational areas, historic locales, farmlands, and residential communities. This region is the largest remnant of a forest thought to have once encompassed over a quarter million acres (1,000 km²) on Long Island following the last glacial advance some 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. Much of the region's ecosystem is similar to the larger New Jersey Pinelands (also called "Pine barrens") to the south and southwest of NY City, along with Cape Cod's pine barrens. All three areas share geologic and ecological characteristics common along the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the U.S.

Trees have played a major role in the surrounding areas of New York. Very large trees can even grow in the New York metropolitan area (for example, the Queens Giant is the tallest tree in the NY metro area and the oldest living thing in the NY metro area.)


Unisphere From The 1964 World's Fair in NYC
Unisphere From The 1964 World's Fair in NYC

New York City dominates the economy of the state. It is the leading center of banking, finance and communication in the United States and is the location of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street, Manhattan. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that in 2003, the total gross state product was $822 billion, second only to California. Its 2003 Per Capita Personal Income was $36,112, placing it 6th in the nation. New York's agricultural outputs are dairy products, cattle and other livestock, vegetables, nursery stock, and apples. Its industrial outputs are printing and publishing, scientific instruments, electric equipment, machinery, chemical products, and tourism.

Many of the world's largest corporations locate their headquarters home offices in Manhattan or in nearby Westchester County, New York. The state also has a large manufacturing sector which includes printing, garments, furs, railroad rolling stock, and bus line vehicles. Some industries are concentrated in upstate locations also, such as ceramics (the southern tier of counties) and photographic equipment (Rochester).

There is a moderately large saltwater commercial fishery located along the Atlantic side of Long Island. The principal catches by value are clams, lobsters, squid, and flounder. There used to be a large oyster fishery in New York waters as well, but at present, oysters comprise only a small portion of the total value of seafood harvested. Perhaps the best known aspect of the fishing sector is the famous Fulton Fish Market in New York City, which distributes not only the New York catch, but imported seafood from all over the world. The famous Fulton Fish Market has been moved to the Bronx.

New York's mining sector is concentrated in three areas. The first is near New York City. Primarily, this area specializes in construction materials for the many projects in the city, but its also contains the emery mines of Westchester County, one of two locations in the USA where that mineral is extracted. The second area is the Adirondack Mountains. This is an area of very specialized products, including talc, industrial garnets, and zinc. It should be noted that the Adirondacks are not part of the Appalachian system, despite their location, but are structurally part of the mineral-rich Canadian Shield. Finally in the inland southwestern part of the state in the Allegheny Plateau is a region of drilled wells. The only major liquid output at present is salt in the form of brine; however, there are also small to moderate petroleum reserves in this area.


Dairy farm near Oxford, New York, July 2001
Dairy farm near Oxford, New York, July 2001

New York State is an agricultural leader, ranking within the top five states for a number of products including dairy, apples, cherries, cabbage, potatoes, onions, maple syrup and many other products. The state has about a quarter of its land in farms and produced 3.4 billion dollars in agricultural products in 2001. The south shore of Lake Ontario provides the right mix of soils and microclimate for many apple, cherry, plum, pear and peach orchards. Apples are also grown in the Hudson Valley and near Lake Champlain. The south shore of Lake Erie and the southern Finger Lakes hillsides have many vineyards. New York State is the nation's third-largest wine-producing state, behind California and Washington State.

New York was heavily glaciated in the ice age leaving much of the state with deep, fertile, though somewhat rocky soils. Row crops, including hay, corn, wheat, oats, barley, and soybeans, are grown. Particularly in the western part of the state, sweet corn, peas, carrots, squash, cucumbers and other vegetables are grown. The Hudson and Mohawk valleys are known for pumpkins and blueberries. The glaciers also left numerous swampy areas, which have been drained for the rich humus soils called muckland which is mostly used for onions, potatoes, celery and other vegetables. Dairy farms are present throughout much of the state. Cheese is a major product, often produced by Amish or Mennonite farm cheeseries. New York is rich in nectar-producing plants and is a major honey-producing state. The honeybees are also used for pollination of fruits and vegetables. Most commercial beekeepers are migratory, taking their hives to southern states for the winter. Most cities have Farmers' markets which are well supplied by local truck farmers.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2004, New York was the third largest state in population after California and Texas, with a population of 19,227,088, a 0.2% increase over the 2003 population (19,190,115).

According to 2003 estimate, 20.4% of the population was foreign-born. The racial makeup of the state was:

The top ancestry groups in New York are African American (15.9%), Italian (14.4%), Irish (12.9%), and German (11.2%).

New York contains the nation's largest Dominican population (concentrated in Upper Manhattan) and largest Puerto Rican population (concentrated in the Bronx). Brooklyn and the Bronx are home to many blacks and Queens has a large population of Latin American origin, as well as the state's largest Asian population.

Historical populations

1790 340,120
1800 589,051
1810 959,049
1820 1,372,812
1830 1,918,608
1840 2,428,921
1850 3,097,394
1860 3,880,735
1870 4,382,759
1880 5,082,871
1890 6,003,174
1900 7,268,894
1910 9,113,614
1920 10,385,227
1930 12,588,066
1940 13,479,142
1950 14,830,192
1960 16,782,304
1970 18,236,967
1980 17,558,072
1990 17,990,455
2000 18,976,457

The 2000 Census revealed which ancestries were in which counties. Italian-Americans make up the largest ancestral group in Staten Island and Long Island, followed by Irish-Americans. Manhattan's leading ancestry group is Irish-Americans, followed by Italian-Americans. Albany and southeast-central New York are heavily Irish-American. In Buffalo and western New York, German-Americans are the largest group; in the northern tip of the state, French-Canadians.

6.5% of New York's population were reported as under 5 years of age, 24.7% under 18, and 12.9% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.8% of the population.

The bulk of New York's population lives within two hours of the city. According to the July 1, 2004 Census Bureau Estimate [1], New York City and its six closest New York State satellite counties (Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange) have a combined population of 12,626,200 people, or 65.67% of the state's population.


In 2001, the five largest denominations in New York were: Roman Catholic (about 38% of total state population), Baptist (7%), Methodist (6%), Jewish (5%) and Lutheran (3%).

New York is home to more of America's Jews (25% of their national total), Muslims (24%), Taoists (26%), and Greek Orthodox (17%) than any other state.[2].

Source Religious Identification in the State of New York
1990 2001 % Change
No Religion 7.0% 13.4% +92%
Catholic 44.3% 38.4% -13%
Mainline Protestant 14.4% 13.4% -7%
Baptist 8.3% 7.4% -10%
Charismatics 1.7% 2.8% +63%
Other Protestant 1.7% 1.6% -6%
Christian - no denomination 9.5% 7.7% -19%
Total Christian 79.9% 71.3% -11%
Mormon 0.2% 0.2% -13%
Jewish 6.9% 5.0% -27%
Islam 0.8% 1.9% +132%
Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh 0.8% 1.7% +116%
Other and New Religions 1.5% 1.0% -32%
No Response 2.9% 5.5% +89%

See List of Protestantism by US State

The Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan contains the shrine and burial place of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini), the patron saint of immigrants and the first American citizen to be canonized.

At Chautauqua Lake in the southwestern portion of the state is the Chautauqua Institution, co-founded by Methodist Rev. John Vincent and devoted to adult continuing education in a uplifting setting, as that ambiance was understood in the last half of the Nineteenth Century. The Institution, which still exists, offers to a predominately middle class and Mid-American clientele a very high standard of intellectual summer lectures, mixed with certain elements of folksy religious camp meetings, such as outdoor recreation and musical events. While some aspects of this pedagogy may seem quaint today, the Institution helped assure that high intellectual achievement would be recognized as consistent with the value system of an emerging powerful Midwest, and was one of several ways that Upstate New York served between the Civil War and World War II as a transmitting intermediary between the standards of the East Coast and the interior agricultural regions of the central states.

Important cities and towns

New York City
New York City
Castle Point in the Shawangunks
Castle Point in the Shawangunks

Albany is the state capital, New York City is the largest city, and the Town of Hempstead is its largest town, based on its large population. (See also List of cities in New York and Political Subdivisions of New York State)

Its major cities and towns are:


Primary and secondary education

The New York State Board of Regents, the University of the State of New York and the State Education Department control all public primary and secondary education in the state.

Colleges and universities

Besides the many private colleges and universities in the state, New York, like many other states, operates its own system of institutions of higher learning known as the State University of New York (SUNY). New York City operates the City University of New York (CUNY) in conjunction with the state.

Professional sports teams


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

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