New York City preview

USA

History

The history of New York City can be traced back to the early years of 16th century when lower Manhattan was settled by Dutch settlers. In 1626, Governor Peter Minuet then purchased New York from the Native Americans for only $24 worth of trinkets. New York was later on seized by the English who established a colony here.

Under the British, the population of the city grew, but towards the end of the 17th Century the city was affected by the wars between the English and French in Europe. The city also featured prominently during the American Revolutionary War which lasted from 1776 to 1781, as General George Washington was defeated in a number of battles in New York by the English. At the end of the war, George Washington was sworn in as the first President at New York City’s Federal Hall.

The growth and development of New York actually took off in 1825 with the opening of the Erie Canal which linked New York City to the Great Lakes. During this time many of the landmarks of the city like Central Park were established. In 1898, the city was made a metropolis of five boroughs and in the late nineteenth century it also received huge waves of immigration from Europe. These immigrants, who were admitted through a facility on Ellis Island located in New York Harbor, were mainly German, Italian and Eastern Europeans who worked long hours and lived in horrible conditions in areas of lower Manhattan.

The Great Depression and World War II also affected New York City but the city emerged stronger after each of these events and it experienced much growth and development. During this time the city’s many landmarks and tall buildings were also constructed including the United Nations Complex which was established in Midtown Manhattan. In 1972, the city’s skyline was enhanced by the completion of the two 110 storey towers of the World Trade Center. These ‘Twin Towers' came to represent the indomitable spirit of the city. These towers were completely destroyed in a ghastly terrorist attack which claimed the lives of over 3000 people on the morning of September 11, 2001. These attacks dealt a crushing blow to the psyche and spirit of the city, but it soon recovered to regain its position as one of the world’s greatest urban centers.

Geography

New York City is located on the East Coast of the USA which borders the Atlantic Ocean. The city is located on the mouth of the Hudson River and is composed of five boroughs, the island of Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens. While Brooklyn and Queens lie in Long Island and the Bronx is attached to the New York State mainland, Manhattan and Staten Island are independent islands.

New York City has always been associated with immigrants ever since the first wave of immigration from Europe took place in the late 19th century. Since then the city has seen periodic waves of immigration from Latin America, the Far East and South Asia as ambitious people from all the world have always tried to get to this ‘city of dreams’ which seems to have opportunities for everyone who arrives at its shores. Surprisingly, new immigrants settle quite easily in the city for despite their reputation for brusqueness, New Yorker’s are generally a helpful and, more importantly, an accepting lot who are extremely open and welcoming of people who belong to other cultures.

Moreover, unlike other cities in the US, the residents of New York City are used to foreigners as the city has historically been associated with immigrants so interacting with people of other cultures and nationalities doesn’t seem to faze them. It is often said that there are no ‘original’ New Yorkers as everybody who presently lives in New York City has come from ‘somewhere.’ In fact many New Yorkers even joke about the fact that they can trace their ancestors from the records that are available at Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is an immigration center in New York Harbor which handled the large scale immigration to New York that took place in the late 19th century. This center processed immigrants until 1954 when it was closed. This immigration was extremely important in forming the attitudes of New Yorkers today as they seem to welcome foreigners in their midst quite easily and seem to have litter or no reservations or prejudices.