History of New York
The first European contact with the area known today as New York State was in the early 17th century, when Henry Hudson sailed into Upper New York Bay. Soon came the Dutch settlers and fur merchants, who founded colonies on what used to be Lenape and Iroquois land. After changing hands several times between the Dutch and the British, the area finally became British up until the American Revolutionary War.
New York was home of the Sons of Liberty, who organized in response to the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act Congress, held in 1765 in New York City, set the stage for the Continental Congress and resulted in the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which, in turn, was the precursor of many crucial ideas later embodied in the United States Declaration of Independence.
The state saw the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, called the Battle of Long Island or the Battle of Brooklyn. The last British troops left New York in 1783. New York was the 11th state to ratify the US Constitution in 1788.
After the war, the state started building and rebuilding rapidly and many of the efforts aimed at facilitating the transportations of the goods throughout the states. Thanks to the construction of the Erie Canal, which connected the Lake Erie (and thus all the great lakes) with the Hudson River, the state began to prosper and many new towns emerged, especially along the river banks.
During the Civil War, New York soldiers fought on the side of the Union and the state contributed to the war efforts with more than 370,000 soldiers, of which 53,000 died. The late 19th century and early 20th century saw a massive wave of immigrants from Europe, who, upon arrival, had to go through the country’s main immigration facility, Ellis Island, in New York City. More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1950.
New York Geography
The New York State is a significant part of what is known as the Northeast Megapolis, which stretches from Boston to Washington DC. The central core of this “super-city” is considered to be the southern tip of New York – the entire New York City, suburbs in Long Island and Hudson Valley, as well as northern New Jersey.
The largest city of the state is, of course, New York City, which is also the most populous US city. The city and the state share their name, and in order to distinguish between the two, most people refer to the state as New York State, and to the city as New York City. Also, many people, especially locals, use the term “Upstate New York” when referring to any part of the state outside New York City.
The eastern portion of the New York State is dominated by the Great Appalachian Valley, while most of the southern portion of the state lies on the Allegheny Plateau. On the north, the state touches two of the Great Lakes – Erie and Ontario, and some of its major water systems include Delaware, Hudson and Susquehanna. Outside the busy New York City and its metropolitan area, the state is predominantly rural, with small farms tucked in forests, mountains or along the shores of many rivers and lakes.
New York has several state parks, the largest of them being the Adirondack Park. This enormous park, approximately the size of Vermont, may not be as famous as some of its other American counterparts but it is definitely the largest state park in the entire USA. Another major New York State Park is the Catskill Park, a natural habitat for many animals, including a population of some 400 black bears, as well as minks and bobcats. The park is one of the favorite summer destinations for campers all over the region.
One of the major tourist attractions in the state is the Montauk Lighthouse, part of the Montauk Point State Park, on the easternmost tip of the Long Island.
Long Island, which is probably best known internationally for the cocktail named after it (the Long Island Iced Tea) is located just east of Manhattan. Even though it geographically includes two NYC boroughs (Brooklyn and Queens), the term “Long Island” commonly refers to Nassau and Suffolk counties, which are predominately suburban. Long Island is the largest (and the longest) island in the United States, and it is certainly the most densely populated. In addition to being a major residential area, Long Island is also one of the New Yorkers’ favorite vacation destinations, especially in the summer.
Climate in New York is humid continental throughout most of the state, however, New York City actually has humid subtropical climate.
New York Population
As of 2011 U.S. Census, New York state has 19,465,197 inhabitants, which makes it the third most populous state in the USA. More than 92% of the population lives in urban areas. New York City and its suburban counties (not counting those belonging to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut) has 68,42% of the entire population of the state.
Other large cities in New York are Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse, Albany, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Schenectady and Utica.
In 2010, the racial makeup in the state was 65.7% White, 17.6% Hispanic or Latino, 15.9% Black or African American, 7.3% Asian, 0.6% Native American and 3% biracial.
Major ancestry groups are African American, Italian, Irish, German and English.
New York is home to the largest African American population in the USA, second-largest Asian American population and also largest Puerto Rican, Jamaican and Dominican American populations in the country.
Queens County is the most ethnically diverse county in the entire USA and home to the state’s largest Asian American population and the country’s largest Andean population (Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Bolivian). The second-largest Asian American population in New York resides in Chinatown in Manhattan.
As for the religion, the majority of population in New York state is Catholic, followed by Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.
Economy of New York
New York is one of the states with the highest gross state product. Its economy is based both on agriculture (dairy, cattle, vegetables, apples, cabbage, nursery stock, onions, maple syrup) and on industry (machinery, chemical products, printing and publishing, tourism, electronics and scientific equipment). Most of the industries, especially the manufacture, are located in the upstate region. For example, Albany and the Hudson Valley are famous in the field of nanotechnology, while Rochester is a major hub for photographic, optical and image equipment (hosting major corporations such as Xerox and Kodak).
Of course, New York City is the major contributor to the state’s economy. It is one of the world’s most important centers for business, finance and communication, with hundreds of international corporations who have their headquarters there, not to mention the New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in the world.
New York City is also a very important transportation and communication point. It has three large international airports, all of them operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – JFK, Newark and La Guardia, each catering to the needs of thousands of passengers who pass there daily arriving, departing or transiting.
Tourism is another major contributor to the state economy in the state of New York. New York City is, of course, the main tourist destination for both domestic and international visitors.
New York is home to a very large number of Fortune 500 companies, most notably Verizon, J.P. Morgan & Chase, Citigroup, MetLife, Pfizer, PepsiCo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Time Warner, Philip Morris International, American Express, Viacom, MasterCard, Barnes and Noble, Hess, New York Life Insurance and many more.
New York Government and legislation
Current constitution of New York was adopted in 1938 and according to it the state is governed by the same three branches used in other U.S. states - executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch consists of the Governor of New York and other elected officials, such as Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor and others. The current governor of New York is Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has been serving a four-year term since 2011.
The legislative branch consists of the New York State Legislature, a bicameral body comprising of New York State Senate with 62 members and the New York State Assembly with 150 members. The state has two senators in the U.S. Senate and 29 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Politically, New York state has voted Democrat in national elections in the last couple of decades. However, certain parts of rural Upstate New York are more conservative compared to large urban areas and generally more favorable to the Republicans.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York since June 2011. Capital punishment was reintroduced in the state in 1995 but in 2004 the statute was declared unconstitutional. The last execution in New York took place in 1963.
New York Education
All primary, middle-level and secondary education in New York is overseen by the University of the State of New York with its Board of Regents and New York State Education Department. New York City Department of Education manages the school district of New York City, the largest school district in the USA with more than a million students and 1,700 schools.
State University of New York (SUNY) is the state’s public system of higher education. It is the largest public university system in the United States and consists of community colleges, technical colleges, undergraduate colleges and doctoral-granting institutions. There are four doctoral-granting university centers in the state: University at Albany, University at Buffalo, Binghamton University and Stony Brook University. There are also four statutory colleges legally and technically part of the Cornell University.
CUNY (City University of New York) is the public university system of New York City, independent from the State University of New York. This system comprises of ten senior colleges (such as Hunter College, Baruch College, Lehman College and others), six community colleges and seven graduate and professional schools.
There are hundreds of private universities and colleges in New York state. The land-grant university is Cornell, primarily a private university but with several public sectors.
Some of the most prestigious and highest-ranked private institutions in the state are Cornell University, Columbia University, New York University, Syracuse University, Vassar College, Bard College, Clarkson University, Sarah Lawrence College, University of Rochester, Hamilton College, Ithaca College, Hudson Valley Community College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, Pace University, Pratt Institute, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and many more.
New York Transportation
New York has one of the most extensive, and also one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the United States. The state is probably most famous for the New York City’s mass transit subway, but the state also has four other commuter railroad systems leading to the city: Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, Port Authority Trans-Hudson and New Jersey Transit with five lines. Of course, other cities, such as Buffalo and Rochester, also have their own mass transit systems. In addition, Amtrak offers intercity and interstate passenger rail service (Empire Service, Maple Leaf). Penn Station in New York City is the Amtrak’s busiest station in the USA.
Principal north-south interstate highways in the state are I-81, I-87 and I-95 and the east-west interstates include I-78, I-84, I-86, I-88 and I-90. All these highways also have a number of auxiliary, three-digit highways.
Major bridges in the state are George Washington Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Triborough Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and Throgs Neck Bridge (all in NYC), as well as Tappan Zee Bridge, Peace Bridge and lake Champlain Bridge. Major tunnels are also located mainly in New York City and they include Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and park Avenue Tunnel. These are among the busiest tunnels in the United States.
Two of the largest airports in the state are located in New York City area and include John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia International Airport. Newark Liberty International Airport also serves the city’s metropolitan area but it is technically located in New Jersey. Other large airports in the state include Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Albany International Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport and Syracuse Hancock International Airport.