New York is the largest city in the Western hemisphere and the third largest in the world. Its population is about fourteen million (with all suburbs – 'Greater New York'). It is situated on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Hudson River.
From the Observation Gallery on the top of the 381-metre high Empire State Building you can see that the city is built on a number of islands with Manhattan in the centre. New York City consists of five boroughs – Manhattan, Bronx on the mainland, Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island, and Richmond on Staten Island. As Manhattan, the centre of the city, is an island, very many people either have to cross a bridge, travel through a tunnel, or take a ferry-boat to get to work.
History of New York
New York has had a colourful history. The first European to sight this place was Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian navigator when, in 1524, he was exploring the North American coast. But in 1609 Henry Hudson, the English navigator, sailed into the bay through the mouth of the river which now bear his name.
In 1625, a Dutchman 'bought' Manhattan Island from the Indians.
Originally New York was called New Amsterdam, and a Dutch engineer was sent from Holland to plan the city. He was asked to build a town and a fort for the Dutch West India Company. It consisted of thirty houses and a mill, and a five-bastioned fort (a fort with five bastions) which was never finished. A small fort, however, was built in 1628.
Some of the houses were there before the engineer came, for Dutch explorers, traders and a garrison had lived on Manhattan since 1613, but it was some years later before a permanent settlement was founded, before streets were built and farms established.
On the 2nd of February, 1653, the first municipal government was formed, but Manhattan Island still belonged to the Dutch West India Company.
In 1664 the English seized the settlement and renamed it New York after Britain's Duke of York.1 War broke out 2 again between Britain and Holland and in 1673 a Dutch fleet returned to New York and captured it. The Dutch changed its name again. At the end of the war, in 1674, when Holland was finally defeated, the town was relinquished to Britain.
During the American War of Independence (1775–1783), New York remained for some time in British hands. But on the 30th of April, 1787, George Washington * was inaugurated in New York as the first president of the United States.
New York Today
Today the city is the main seaport and the financial, intellectual and artistic centre of the United States.
But life is not easy there for those who are not rich. Unless you are wealthy, you cannot live on the expensive West Side of Manhattan. The unfashionable East Side is cheaper, but you would still need a good income if you wanted a comfortable life.
People with lower incomes have to live in one of the thousands of slum and semi-slum apartments (flats) with paper-thin walls in Queens or Brooklyn, where in the summer it is very hot, and in the icy winter you can freeze to death.
In Harlem, where mostly black Americans live, the houses are very old, dirty and overcrowded. The streets are narrow and full of playing children.
In these areas fire has always been a constant fear. Several years ago a great fire, with flames reaching a height of ninety metres, raged in Queens. Houses burnt like paper boxes. Hundreds of people lost their homes.
New York is a centre of the movement against race discrimination, for it has a population of many different races and nationalities. The students' progressive movement and the Peace Movement are also well organized and developed.
The headquarters of the United Nations Organization and those of a number of other international organizations are situated in New York