New York is the biggest city in the United States with a population of over 8 million . It lies along the Hudson River in the southeast corner of the state that has the same name. New York is always alive – a “city that never sleeps”.
New York is made up of five districts, called boroughs.
Manhattan is the central part of New York. It is the smallest district with an area of only 60 square kilometres. All of the city’s major banks and the stock exchanges can be found here. It is the seat of the city’s government and the home of cultural institutions.
Brooklyn is a major seaport and the centre of industry. It has the most residents of all boroughs and is known as the district of churches and homes.
Queens is the largest of New York’s boroughs. It consists of rows of single-family houses and is often referred to as the city’s biggest suburb. Whites, Hispanics and Blacks live together in Queens.
The Bronx , a residential district with many apartment buildings, is the only borough situated on the mainland.
For many years Staten Island could only be reached by ferry. Today, the borough is connected with Brooklyn through the Verrazano – Narrows Bridge. The opening of this bridge in 1964 led many New Yorkers to move to Staten Island.
New York is a melting pot of different nationalities with people who have their origins all over the world. Hispanics, African Americans and people of European origin make up most of the city’s population. Ellis Island, not far from the Statue of Liberty, was once the main entry point for the millions of immigrants who have come to America in the past two centuries.
The first immigrants came from England, Germany and Scandinavia at the beginning of the 19th century. Between 1880 and 1930 Eastern Europeans, Italians and the Irish came to America. After World War II Asians, Cubans and Hispanics came to New York in large numbers. The city also has the largest Jewish community in the world.
For over a hundred years the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of the United States. It stands on Liberty Island and was a gift that France gave to the USA in 1886 as a symbol of friendship between the two countries . With its pedestal made of concrete the statue has a height of 93 metres. It represents a woman looking out over the harbour. On her head is a crown and in her hand a torch. Although tourists can go up to the observation deck in the crown, the torch itself is closed to all visitors.
Times Square, where 42 nd Street and Broadway meet, is often called Crossroads of the World. Millions of people see it on television every New Year’s Eve. It got its name because the New York Times building was originally located there. Today it is home to theatres and cinemas with many electronic billboards surrounding the square.
The Empire State Building is one of the best known buildings in the world. Located in the middle of Manhattan, the steel framed structure has 102 storeys and a height of 381 metres. Built in 1931, it was the first building of such a tremendous height. For over twenty years it was the tallest building in the world and the tallest building of New York until the construction of the World Trade Centre in the 1970s. The building has appeared in famous films like King Kong and Superman. About 2 million tourists visit the Empire State Building every year.
Central Park is the largest and most important public park in Manhattan. It extends for about 4km and has an area of 340 hectares. The park includes lakes, ice rinks, fountains, playgrounds, bicycle paths and other facilities. When it was built in the 1840s the park was far away from the city’s centre. Some of it was farming area another part was swampy, wet land that had to be laid dry. It took 20,000 workers more than 15 years to remove thousands of trees and complete the park.
Brooklyn Bridge, built between 1869 and 1883 connects Manhattan with New York’s most populous borough, Brooklyn. The 1.5 km long bridge, which spans the East River, is one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 19 th century.
New York is often said to be the cultural centre of the United States. Many famous museums are at home in the city. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a huge collection of over 2,000 European and 4,000 American paintings, sculptures and drawings. Other famous museums are the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art.
New York City is especially popular among theatre-goers. The greatest theatre district in the world is around Times Square and Broadway. About 40 theatres offer a wide range of dramas, musicals and comedy shows.
Music lovers can attend performances of New York’s Metropolitan Opera or concerts of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Like many modern megacities New York also has great traffic problems. Most foreign travellers get to New York through John F. Kennedy International Airport, one of the world’s busiest, situated in the south-eastern part of the city.
Public transport centres on a subway system which is the largest in the world. It is over 300 km long, has over 400 stations and is used by almost 4 million people every day. Because New York is such a large city many people tend to walk or, when in a hurry, go by one of the thousands of Yellow Cabs that cruise around.
The first Europeans were explorers who were impressed by the area’s natural harbour. In 1609 the English navigator Henry Hudson sailed up the river that is today named after him. In 1626 the Dutch set up a trading post at the southern tip of Manhattan and called it New Amsterdam. In the same year they bought Manhattan from the Indians who lived there.
The British took over the colony in 1664 and named it after the Duke of York. After the American Revolution New York became America’s first capital , but only for a short time. Back then about 33,000 people lived there.
In the early part of the 19 th century waves of European immigrants started to come to the city. They usually worked for little money, helped boost the economy and made New York the largest city in the country. The rapid growth of the city also created problems: crime, poverty, overpopulation and pollution. In the 1970s the city went through a big economic crisis. It didn’t have enough money to pay its bills and almost went bankrupt , but recovered again some years later.
In recent years the city has become the target of terrorist activities. In 1993 a car bomb exploded in the basement of the World Trade Centre, killing six people. The city’s darkest hour came on September 11 th , 2001 when terrorists hijacked two planes and flew them into the World Trade Centre. Both buildings collapsed— the attack killed almost three thousand people. In April 2006 developers began constructing a skyscraper called Freedom Tower at the place where the World Trade Centre once stood.