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New York City

The City of New York is one of the world's most famous cities (and ports) and is located at the mouth of the Hudson River, in the north-eastern United States. Although in New York state, it is not it's capital - that accolade is given to the city of Albany. New York is the largest,  most populous, most international and most influential metropolis in America and covers Manhattan and Staten islands, the western sections of Long Island and a small part of the New York state mainland to the north of Manhattan. It has five boroughs, namely Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. It covers an area of 305 square miles (790km²) and it has a population of over 8.5 million (this figure rises to over 20 million in the metropolitan area).

 

The city is a multi faceted affair encompassing all manner of cultures, economic classes, historic (by American standards) and modern architecture, urban and green spaces and so forth. In terms of its history, there are not many which can boast such absolute growth in such a short amount of time. The island of Manhattan is the oldest part of the city and this is the original Lenape Native American name. Although Native people lived here for 1000's of years, New York City was first explored by Europeans in the 1500's. Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano found the entrance to New York Harbor in 1524 and the English explorer Henry Hudson named the Hudson River in 1609. The Dutch settled here in 1624 and named a fort and town at the southern end of Manhattan New Amsterdam. During the second Anglo-Dutch War, The English took over the colony in 1664 and changed the name of the locality to New York, in honour of the Duke of York (who later became King James II). Later on, millions of immigrants from all over the world came here and New York quickly flourished to become the financial, commercial and cultural capital of the continent. The city has developed a lifestyle like no other in the world and whilst some may criticize this, to many others, it is an envy. The city's rise to world prominence was primarily due to the fact that it's harbour is one of the best in the world - it ranks as one of the largest and as well as being sheltered, is deep enough to accommodate large vessels. Much of the early history continued to take place at the southern end of Manhattan in a small area from the Battery to about where Wall Street now stands. From 1792, the New York Stock Exchange began operating on a Wall Street green/ In 1700, the first library opened and the new city hall (later, Federal Hall) was also completed. The city served as the capital of the United States from 1789 to 1790, at the end of  the American Revolution. In 1789, on the steps of Federal Hall, George Washington was inaugurated the first President of the United States.

With the founding of the United States and an open immigration policy New York City became the 'melting pot' of the nation. Two immigration centres were set up, one at Ellis Island and one at Castle Garden and here more than 27 million new arrivals were processed, many of whom remained in the city. Each group of people brought with them their own way of life, working hard and ensuring the rapid growth of the city whilst at the same time, enriching it's culture. Many names of areas of the city reflect the original independent communities whom settled here - for example, Chinatown, Greenwich Village and Little Italy. Many of them still hold their own and so sometimes walking from one part of the city to another can feel like entering a different country at times.

The city has some 6,074 miles of streets and the most famous is Broadway (also known as the Great White Way, particularly between 39th and 57th Streets, in the Times Square District). This is the home of America Theatre. Other famous streets include Wall Street (where the financial heart of America is), Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue (shopping) and Madison Avenue, home of the advertising business. Whilst the city is one of superlatives, it is also one of constant change and growth. For the visitor, there is something for everyone and it is here, you will find the widest choice of art galleries, museums, shopping, restaurants and entertainments available with few, if any exceptions.

A selection of some of my photos from four trips to the city are in the thumbnail gallery below and it may quickly become apparent that all of the visits took place in the 1990's, prior to the atrocities of 9/11. And so, it goes without saying, another visit to The Big Apple is long overdue.

Of course, a detailed description of the many sites the city has to offer, or indeed those that I have had the pleasure of visiting could take a seemingly endless amount of time to write and space to fill, and so this text has been kept to an absolute minimum. Suffice to say, I have several lasting memories of the city as varied as seeing a sermon outside RIverside Church in Upper Manhattan by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, going to see a baseball game at the Yankees stadium and a couple of visits to the observation deck of the original World Trade Center.

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