Empire State Building
NYC Weather Forecast
NYC History & Politics
New York City History
Tammany Hall and Politics
New York City Politicians
New York City Personalities
Culture of Gotham City
Culture of the city
City in popular culture
The region was inhabited by the Lenape Native
Americans at the time of its European discovery in 1524 by
Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer in the service
of the French crown, who called it "Nouvelle Angoulême" (New
Angoulême). European settlement began with the founding of
a Dutch fur trading settlement, later called "New Amsterdam,"
on the southern tip of Manhattan in 1614. Dutch colonial Director-General
Peter Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from the Canarsie
Native Americans in 1626 (legend, now disproved, says that
Manhattan was purchased for $24 worth of glass beads). In
1664, the British conquered the city and renamed it "New York"
after the English Duke of York and Albany.
New York City grew in importance as a trading port while under
British rule. In 1754, Columbia University was founded under
charter by King George II as King's College in Lower Manhattan.
The city emerged as the theater for a series of major battles
known as the New York Campaign during the American Revolutionary
War. The Continental Congress met in New York City and in
1789 the first President of the United States, George Washington,
was inaugurated at Federal Hall on Wall Street. New York City
was the capital of the United States until 1790.
During the 19th century, the city was transformed by immigration,
a visionary development proposal called the Commissioners'
Plan of 1811 that expanded the city street grid to encompass
all of Manhattan, and the opening in 1819 of the Erie Canal,
which connected the Atlantic port to the vast agricultural
markets of the North American interior. By 1835, New York
City had surpassed Philadelphia as the largest city in the
United States. Local politics fell under the domination of
Tammany Hall, a political machine supported by Irish immigrants.
Public-minded members of the old merchant aristocracy pressed
for Central Park, which became the first landscaped park in
an American city in 1857. Anger at military conscription during
the American Civil War (1861-1865) led to the Draft Riots
of 1863, one of the worst incidents of civil unrest in American
history. In 1898, the modern City of New York was formed with
the consolidation of Brooklyn (until then an independent city),
Manhattan and municipalities in the other boroughs. The opening
of the New York City Subway in 1904 helped bind the new city
together. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the
city became a world center for industry, commerce, and communication.
In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the city's
worst industrial disaster, took the lives of 146 garment workers
and spurred the growth of the International Ladies' Garment
Workers' Union and major improvements in factory safety standards.
In the 1920s, New York City was a major destination for African
Americans during the Great Migration from the American South.
By 1916, New York City was home to the largest urban African
diaspora in North America. The Harlem Renaissance flourished
during the era of Prohibition, coincident with a larger economic
boom that saw the skyline develop with the construction of
competing skyscrapers. New York City became the most populous
city in the world in 1925, overtaking London, which had reigned
for a century. The difficult years of the Great Depression
saw the election of reformer Fiorello LaGuardia as mayor and
the fall of Tammany Hall after eighty years of political dominance.
Returning World War II veterans and immigrants from Europe
created a postwar economic boom and the development of huge
housing tracts in eastern Queens. New York emerged from the
war unscathed and the leading city of the world, with Wall
Street leading America's ascendance as the world's dominant
economic power, the United Nations headquarters (built in
1952) emphasizing New York's political influence, and the
rise of Abstract Expressionism in the city precipitating New
York's displacement of Paris as the center of the art world.
Yet like many large American cities, New York suffered a decline
in manufacturing and rising crime rates, race riots, and white
flight in the 1960s. By the 1970s, the city had gained a reputation
as a crime-ridden relic of history.
In the 1980s, a resurgence in the financial industry improved the city's fiscal health. By the 1990s, racial tensions had calmed, crime rates dropped dramatically, and waves of new immigrants arrived from Asia and Latin America. Important new sectors, such as Silicon Alley, emerged in the city's economy and New York's population reached an all-time high in the 2000 census.
The city was one of the sites of the September 11, 2001 attacks, when nearly 3,000 people died in the destruction of the World Trade Center. The Freedom Tower will be built on the site and is scheduled for completion in 2010.
New York City Search