New York, a state in the Middle Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered by the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec on the north and by Lake Ontario and Lake Erie on the northwest and west. Pennsylvania lies west and south of New York, and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean lie to the south. On the east the state is bordered by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Albany is the capital of New York. New York, commonly known as New York City, is the largest city.
New York has long been a leader in the political, cultural, and economic life of the United States. It has been called the Empire State since before 1800, a reference to its wealth and variety of resources and probably derived from a comment, attributed to George Washington, that predicted that New York would become the seat of the new empire. Although California surpassed it in population in 1963 and in manufacturing in 1972, choices made in New York influence much of the country’s commerce, finance, and the creative arts. Although New York City is the largest city in the country, much of New York is still rural.
New York is also rich in history, extending to when Native Americans first occupied its shores and river valleys. The state was named in the 1660s for the duke of York, later James II of England, though many place names are from the time when the region was a Dutch colony known as New Netherland. New York entered the Union on July 26, 1788, as the 11th of the original 13 states. The Erie Canal, now incorporated into the New York State Canal System, set the pattern of commerce early in U.S. history. The Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, was the first vision of America seen by millions of immigrants arriving at New York City. The United Nations, whose headquarters are located on Manhattan Island, works toward a future more peaceful than the past.
New York has an area of 141,299 sq km (54,556 sq mi), including 4,908 sq km (1,895 sq mi) of inland water, 2,541 sq km (981 sq mi) of coastal water, and 10,329 sq km (3,988 sq mi) of that portion of the Great Lakes over which it has jurisdiction. Among the states it ranks 27th in size. The greatest distance within the state, exclusive of the islands, is 480 km (300 mi) from north to south, while from east to west it measures 510 km (315 mi). The average elevation is 300 m (1,000 ft). The principal islands belonging to the state are Manhattan Island, which forms the core of New York City; Staten Island, also a borough of New York City; and Long Island, which extends 190 km (118 mi) east from the southern tip of the state. On its western end, Long Island contains two more boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn and Queens.
New York’s roughly triangular area encloses eight different natural regions, or physiographic provinces, of the United States. These provinces are: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a subdivision of the Coastal Plain; the New England Upland province, the Piedmont Plateau, the Ridge and Valley province, the Appalachian Plateaus, the Adirondack province, and the St. Lawrence Valley province, all subdivisions of the Appalachian Region; and the Central Lowland, a sub-division of the Interior Plains.
The Coastal Plain of New York is part of a long, low coastal band that stretches from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Mexico. In New York state it is seen chiefly in Long Island and Staten Island. These islands belong to the embayed section of the plain that is indented with many bays and estuaries because of the partial submergence of the land. Both islands were built up by a glacier, which, as it melted and retreated, left deposits called moraine. Long Island received two separate deposits of moraine, running almost its entire length. Over most of Long Island the two deposits are virtually indistinguishable from each other. The eastern tip of Long Island, however, resembles a fishtail on the map, because at this point the two moraines are separated by water. Parts of the island are almost pure sand, supporting only scrub pines and oaks.
The New England Upland province is composed of moderately rough, rolling land with smoothly rounded hilltops. The bedrock is very old metamorphic rock, although some valleys are underlain with limestone. New York City is the point where the New England province meets the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Manhattan belongs to the Seaboard Lowland section of the New England province, and the strength of the bedrock there has permitted the construction of the city’s numerous skyscrapers. A prong of the Seaboard Lowland crosses the Hudson River, forming the Hudson Highlands near West Point. A well-known feature of this highland area is Storm King, a peak 413 m (1,355 ft) above sea level. The Taconic section of the New England province, being mainly a mountainous section, is higher than the Seaboard Lowland. The Taconic section is seen in Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as in New York state, where it is represented by a thin strip of highlands to the east of the Hudson River called the Taconic Range.
Only the northern tip of the Piedmont Plateau, called the northern Piedmont lowland, extends into New York State, mainly in Rockland County. Although basically a lowland area, one of the distinctive features there is the Palisades, the rocky cliffs that rise abruptly from the Hudson’s western shore. They were formed by molten basalt lava that was pushed up through the earth’s crust to form a tall rocky wall extending for some distance along the New Jersey-New York shore.
The Ridge and Valley province, which is more extensive in Pennsylvania and the Southern states, is confined to a relatively narrow valley in New York. This area, the northern part of which is called the Hudson Valley section, forms the Hudson River corridor. The valley is underlain by soft limestone, but much of the surface materials are sands, clays, and loams deposited as a result of glacial action. The general appearance of the valley is rural, and only in the southern part of this region is there any evidence of the folded mountainous terrain that is so characteristic of the Ridge and Valley province elsewhere.
The Appalachian Plateaus is a large natural region lying west of the Hudson lowlands and south of the Mohawk River valley and the Lake Ontario-Lake Erie plains. The plateau is underlain with nearly horizontal rock strata, and all of it was covered by a glacier as recently as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Ice and the force of rivers have dissected or cut into the bedrock, giving the whole region a rugged, hilly aspect. The plateau is highest in the eastern part of the state, where it forms the Catskill Mountains. The northeastern side of the Catskills near Albany is marked by a series of steep limestone escarpments called The Helderbergs. The average elevation of the hills in the Catskill region is 900 m (3,000 ft), but westward elevations are generally lower. Slide Mountain, in the Catskills, reaches an elevation of 1,281 m (4,204 ft). The local relief in both the Catskills and the western portion of the plateau amounts to 150 m (500 ft) or more from the hilltops to the bottom of rivers that have cut wide valleys.
The section of the Appalachian Plateaus south of the Ontario Lake Plain and west of the Catskills is sometimes called the glaciated Allegheny Plateau. This area has elevations of from 370 to 610 m (1,200 to 2,000 ft), although the land is much lower around the Finger Lakes, in the north of the section. Glaciers carved these long narrow lakes from the soft limestones and shales that prevail in the area. The Finger Lakes are edged by steep valley walls over which tributary streams have created some spectacular waterfalls. Near the southern end of Cayuga Lake is the highest continuous waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, Taughannock Falls, which, at 66 m (215 ft), is even higher than Niagara Falls.
Another distinct region of the Appalachian Plateaus is the Mohawk section, encompassing the Mohawk River valley. It separates the rest of the Appalachian Plateaus from the Adirondack Mountains to the north. The Mohawk River valley extends eastward from Rome to the Hudson River valley, permitting easy passage between the Hudson River and Lake Ontario. The Black River valley, north of Utica, forms a northwestern continuation of the Mohawk section. Both valleys are important dairy regions developed on excellent lands for pasture and growing hay.
The Adirondack province consists of a large highland area occupying 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq mi) in the northeastern quarter of the state. The region is domelike in shape, with the higher elevations toward the east. The western Adirondack province is more a rugged hill region and not truly mountainous. Geologically, this area is related to the Laurentian Upland, or Canadian Shield, which lies north of the St. Lawrence River, for it is composed of the same very old igneous rocks, principally granite and anorthosite in the high peaks section. The Adirondacks contain many of the higher peaks of the eastern United States, including Mount Marcy, at 1,629 m (5,344 ft), the highest point in the state. This region is heavily forested, and its geologic structure has created wild and rugged scenery, with many waterfalls and spectacular vistas.
The Adirondack Mountains descend to the St. Lawrence River valley on the north and are bordered on the east by the lowlands around Lake Champlain. The two lowlands are connected by the Valley of the Richelieu River. This area is known as the St. Lawrence Valley province. The St. Lawrence River outlines the northwestern boundary of the state where it passes across the granitic rock of the Laurentian Upland. The Frontenac axis, the same geologic rock structure that connects the Canadian Shield and the Adirondacks, is seen as the Thousand Islands, which lie in the St. Lawrence River where it leaves Lake Ontario.
South of Lake Ontario and east of Lake Erie is a single connected plain extending inland for about 8 km (about 5 mi) to more than 60 km (40 mi). It is called the Eastern Lake section of the Central Lowland. Along most of the Lake Erie shore the plain is narrow, but it widens as it approaches Buffalo. An interesting feature is the large number of drumlins between Syracuse and Rochester. Drumlins are elongated hills or ridges composed of glacial debris. This drumlin formation is one of the best known in the United States. For the visitor, however, Niagara Falls is the region’s most distinctive feature.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
The largest rivers in the state of New York are the St. Lawrence, Hudson, Mohawk, Genesee, Susquehanna, Allegheny, and Delaware rivers. The Hudson River, New York’s largest river, rises in Lake Tear of the Clouds, in the southeastern Adirondacks. North of Troy the Hudson is a relatively narrow river, but from Troy south to New York City it widens. The Hudson River, with its major tributary, the Mohawk River, has played a significant role in the development of the state and the nation. The rivers provided an important lowland route through the Appalachians.
The western Catskill Mountains are drained by the Delaware River, which cuts through the southern portion of the mountains and separates them from the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River rises in Otsego Lake northeast of Binghamton and enters the Atlantic through the Chesapeake Bay. The Genesee River flows almost due north, rising near the southern boundary of New York state and emptying into Lake Ontario. There are falls along its course, and those near Rochester have been harnessed to provide power for the city. The Allegheny River, flowing southward to Pittsburgh, makes only a small loop into western New York from Pennsylvania. The shortest but perhaps one of the most famous rivers in the state of New York is the Niagara River. Measuring 56 km (35 mi), it crosses an escarpment, forming the Niagara Falls. These falls constitute not only a valuable scenic and tourist attraction but are a great source of hydroelectric power. The St. Lawrence River, which rises in Lake Ontario, forms New York state’s boundary with eastern Ontario. In this stretch lie the Thousand Islands and, farther east, the International Rapids section. The St. Lawrence is a vital transportation artery and a major source of hydroelectric power.
New York’s natural lakes number in the thousands. Two of the Great Lakes—Lake Erie and Lake Ontario—lie along the state’s western border. The largest lake lying wholly within the state is Oneida Lake, covering 210 sq km (80 sq mi) and located northeast of Syracuse. Lake Champlain, a much larger and deeper lake, forms part of the boundary between New York and Vermont. Just south of Lake Champlain is Lake George. Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and many others on the northern rim of the Adirondacks are popular resorts. Along the northern edge of the Appalachian Plateaus are the well-known Finger Lakes, the largest of which are Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake. Also of glacial origin in the western portion of the state is Chautauqua Lake, well known as the birthplace of the Chautauqua Institution, where summer lectures and concerts are held. Among the largest reservoirs in New York are Great Sacandaga Lake and Allegheny, Ashokan, Pepacton, and Cannonsville reservoirs.
Nineteen reservoirs, principally in the Catskill Mountains, provide pure, untreated water to New York City and its 8 million people. As New York City’s only source of fresh water, protection of these reservoirs from agricultural, industrial, and residential pollution is extremely important to the city’s government. Because of land use controls imposed by the city, the reservoir system is also an important political issue for residents of the Catskill region. Although most of the upstate reservoirs are used for urban water supplies, some serve flood control duties.
The climate of New York is generally humid. Variations in terrain, elevation, and exposure to bodies of water cause variations in climate. The coastal area has higher temperatures, less frost, less cloudiness, and fewer storms. Upstate lowlands are subject to considerable extremes in temperature, especially during winter when cold air from Canada and the interior invade the state. In summer, warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern United States may bring rains, although cloudless skies generally prevail. Average January temperatures range from -9°C (16°F) in the Adirondacks to 1°C (33°F) in New York City. The July average is 19°C (66°F) in the Adirondacks and 25°C (77°F) in New York City.
The Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean are important modifiers of temperature. Whereas the Adirondacks have an average growing season, or period without killing frosts, of only 100 days a year, the Finger Lakes area, the Great Lakes shores, and the Hudson Valley have a much greater number of frost-free days. New York City and most of Long Island have a growing season of more than 200 days.
Most of the state normally has 1,000 mm (40 in) of rain annually. Precipitation is quite evenly distributed throughout the year, with sufficient amounts of rain during the growing season to support agriculture. There are, however, occasional dry periods. The wettest areas are the southern slopes of the Adirondacks and the Black River valley, where the normal average precipitation exceeds 1,320 mm (52 in) per year. The driest areas are found in northern and western areas, along Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Ontario. The plains of the Eastern Lake section from Buffalo east to the Adirondacks frequently are subjected to blizzard-like storms, and a single storm may pile up more than 1 m (3 ft) of snow. The Tug Hill upland south of Watertown and directly east of Lake Ontario receives the largest annual snowfall. More than 8,900 mm (350 in) of snowfall has been recorded there in a single winter.
The soils in the state fall generally into the groups classified as spodosols. They are acid in reaction and generally light in both color and texture. They are not superior agricultural soils, but because of the proximity of New York’s agricultural areas to its heavily populated consuming centers, many of the better soils are intensively cultivated. The soils over much of the Appalachian Plateaus are gray-brown soils, which are frequently very thin. However, the valleys of the plateau have developed more fertile soils, both on glacial till and on the alluvium washed down from the higher region. The soils of the Adirondacks are generally called orthents, which are very thin stony soils that have developed on the glacial debris of the area. These soils are little used for agriculture. The soils on the plains of the Eastern Lake section have developed on the deposits laid down in glacial lakes. These soils are heavier and of better quality than the other soils of the state.
Almost all of New York was once forested. Forests now cover 61 percent of the state’s land area, most of which is second-growth timber. Some small stands of virgin forest lands are found in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. The forests of the state are a rich mixture of deciduous and coniferous species, the more common trees being white pine, spruce, and hemlock, among the softwoods, and maple, beech, yellow birch, hickory, and several species of oak, among the hardwoods.
About 1,900 species of plants are native to New York. Many species of flowering plants can be found on the dry forest floors, including Dutchman’s breeches, gentians, violets, bellflowers, bellworts, Soloman’s-seal, hapaticas, trillium, and trout lily (yellow adder’s tongue). Common native field flowers are the goldenrod, Michaelmas, daisy, thistle, aster and Joe-Pye-weed. In wetter areas, cattails, mayapples, Jack-in-the-pulpit, impatiens, and marsh marigolds (cowslips) are common. Numerous native species of ferns and grass-like sedges are also found.
Almost all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish that are common in the northeastern United States are found in New York. Native mammals include skunk, raccoon, striped gray squirrel, red and gray fox, Virginia opossum, eastern chipmunk, eastern cottontail, varieties of hare, woodchuck, three species of weasel, mink, and American (or pine) marten.
Eastern coyote, bobcat, river otter, beaver, muskrat, and porcupine are found in many parts of the state, while small rodents, such as mice and voles, and insectivores, such as the shrew and mole, are abundant. Northern and southern flying squirrel are residents of the state, as are eight species of bat. The black bear is still found in forested and upland areas, and moose are common in the north, while the white-tailed deer appears everywhere in the state except for the city boroughs. The marine waters around New York City and Long Island are the habitat of whales, several species of dolphins, and five species of seals.
Amphibians include 18 species of salamander, as well as frogs and toads. Of the reptiles found in the state, there are 3 species of lizards, 14 species of freshwater turtles, 5 species of sea turtles, and 14 species of harmless snakes. Of the venomous the timber rattlesnake is a threatened species and is fully protected under New York’s Environmental Conservation Law. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, sometimes erroneously called the “pygmy,” is in even greater danger of extinction and is listed as an endangered species. The copperhead of southeastern New York is an unprotected snake, and is less venomous than the other two.
Birdlife is abundant, and game birds of northeastern North America that migrate through New York or reside in the state are the ruffed grouse, wild turkey, mallard and many other species of ducks, and Canada and snow geese. Songbirds that rely on forested areas for habitat are doing well in the state, while the number of meadow birds is declining. The American robin, ruby-throated hummingbird, mourning dove, killdeer, chipping sparrow, yellow warbler, blue jay, and house wren are found in most areas in summer. The eastern bluebird, the state’s official bird, is commonly seen once again.
By the mid-1960s in New York there were no longer any successfully breeding pairs of the American bald eagle, a native of the state. Their demise was due largely to habitat loss and to the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1972. The New York State Bald Eagle Restoration Project, begun in 1976, has led to the successful reintroduction of the American bald eagle to the state. The peregrine falcon has found a near perfect home among the skyscrapers and high bridges of New York City, with food provided by the numerous pigeons, blue jays, and other birds of the city. There is found 60 percent of the state’s breeding population, and perhaps the world’s highest urban concentration of this spectacular bird of prey.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, established in 1970, unites the natural resource protection functions of the former Conservation Department and the environmental quality tasks formerly performed by the Department of Health. Since it was formed, the DEC’s activities have multiplied as new laws and programs were developed to solve emerging environmental problems. As a result, New York state residents of today enjoy the benefits of cleaner air and water, thriving wildlife and forests, accessible recreation, and farsighted waste management policies.
New York was one of a number of states facing acute problems of pollution of its rivers and of the Great Lakes. Also pressing, particularly for the urban area around New York City, was the need to preserve land and water for recreational purposes and scenic enjoyment in the face of demands by an ever-growing population for more housing and commercial structures. To this end New York uses modern techniques to manage fish and wildlife resources and state lands. It uses permits to control pollution of air and water, transport and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, pesticide use, mining, and mined-land reclamation. Environmental remediation programs provide help to local governments in construction of wastewater treatment plants as well as overseeing the cleanup of inactive hazardous waste disposal sites.
In 2006 New York had 86 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. The densest concentration of such sites is associated with the industrialized area in Erie and Niagara counties between Buffalo and Niagara Falls-Lewiston. Two other concentrations of hazardous-waste sites are north of Syracuse on Onondaga Lake, and in the vicinity of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, Dutchess, and Orange counties. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 32 percent.
New York surpasses all other states except California in total personal income, and it ranks fourth in the nation in income generated by manufacturing. It is the commercial and financial leader of the country as well as a leading distribution center. Its ports—including New York City, Buffalo, and Albany—handle much of the foreign trade of the United States. Many of the nation’s leading industrial firms have their headquarters in the state, most of them in New York City’s borough of Manhattan. Wall Street is justly famous as the world’s financial center, and upstate cities also have important financial resources. Such financial institutions, when combined with insurance and real-estate companies, contribute almost one-third of the state’s gross product. Following that sector in order of value are the services, trade, and manufacturing sectors.
In 2006 some 9,499,000 people were employed in New York. By far the largest portion of them, 43 percent, worked in service industries such as dry cleaners and restaurants. Another 18 percent held jobs in wholesale or retail trade; 17 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those serving in the military; 21 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 6 percent in manufacturing; 17 percent in transportation or public utilities; 4 percent in construction; 1 percent in farming, fishing, or forestry; and only a small fraction of 1 percent in mining. In 2005, 26 percent of New York’s workers were members of labor unions, the largest percentage of any state.
In 2005 there were 35,600 farms in New York. Of those, 50 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000. Most of the remaining farms were sideline operations for farmers who also held other jobs. Farmland occupied 3.1 million hectares (7.5 million acres), of which 63 percent was cropland. The rest was mostly pasture or woodland.
Dairying is New York’s most important farming activity. More than one-half of the state’s farm income comes from the production of milk and cream. Most of the dairy production is sold as fluid milk, although butter and cheese are important products as well. The dairy areas are located in the Hudson, St. Lawrence, Black, and Mohawk valleys. Cattle and calves are also raised for beef production. Poultry products, including eggs, are also important. Poultry farms are concentrated on Long Island, which is famous for its ducks. Chickens and turkeys are also raised.
In the production of potatoes, New York ranks among the top dozen states. About one-third of the output comes from Long Island.
The production of fruit is important in the state. In the late 1990s New York ranked second among the states in production of apples and in the top three states in production of grapes. Tart cherries, pears, and plums are also important crops. Most New York apples are grown in Wayne County east of Rochester and in the mid-Hudson Valley. The grapes come from vineyards along the Lake Erie shore and in the Finger Lakes region, although significant amounts of grapes for wine are grown in eastern Long Island. New York state’s wines are among the best wines produced in the United States.
In maple syrup production, New York competes with Vermont for top place among the states. The other important crops grown in New York include corn, onions, cabbage, and hay. The Ontario Lake plain south of Lake Ontario is the state’s vegetable-growing area and also has numerous flower and plant nurseries. Many of the vegetables grown there are canned or frozen.
|B||Fishing and Forestry|
Commercial and recreational fishing is carried on in the lower Great Lakes and in the waters surrounding Long Island. The lower Great Lakes system yields lake perch, bullheads, pike, and eel. Trout species such as lake, brown, and rainbow inhabit this system, along with coho and chinook salmon. Walleye and smallmouth bass are native to these waters, and muskellunge thrive in the upper Niagara and the St. Lawrence rivers, the connecting channels of the system. Long Island Sound is noted for its yield of oysters and clams; other sea-life taken in the sound include bluefish, striped bass, flounder, scup, and lobster. Water quality in the Hudson River has improved since the mid-1970s, so that alewife, blueback herring, striped bass, and Atlantic sturgeon are once again found there in number. American shad continue to run in the Hudson River each spring. In 2004 the total fish catch brought $46.4 million into the state’s economy.
While forestry is no longer a leading industry in the state, it is still important, particularly by supplying raw material for the state’s pulp and paper industry as well as hardwoods for furniture and veneers. Some softwoods are cut, including pines, spruces, and hemlocks, but most of the timber harvest consists of hardwoods, such as maple, birch, ash, and oak. It is these hardwoods that are used in the furniture industry. Beech, though widespread, suffers from an introduced disease and has little commercial value.
The mineral industry of New York is devoted principally to the production of nonmetallics. Leading this group are crushed stone, cement, salt, and sand and gravel for construction. Stones for both construction and ornamental uses are mined, the most important being limestone and dolomite. Salt, of which New York is one of the nation’s leading producers, comes from both mines and salt wells, in Livingston, Tompkins, Schuyler, Onondaga, Wyoming, and Yates counties. Sand and gravel are abundant in the glacial deposits of the state. Gypsum is mined in Erie and Genesee counties. Clay deposits are worked and used in the manufacture of bricks and pottery. Talc is recovered in several mines around Gouverneur, in St. Lawrence County. Garnets, used as an abrasive, are also mined in the southeastern Adirondacks. Other nonmetallic minerals produced include emery, lime, and wollastonite, which is used in ceramics, paints, and plastics.
Zinc deposits are worked in St. Lawrence County. Some lead is also extracted from these lead-zinc ores, and a little silver is recovered as a by-product of the ore. New York ranks third in zinc production. When it is profitable, iron ore is mined in Essex and St. Lawrence counties in the Adirondacks. There are natural gas wells in the southwestern portions of the state, in Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, and Chautauqua counties.
New York’s leading industries, in terms of value added by manufacturing, are the printing and publishing industry, the manufacture of instruments, the production of electric and electronic devices, the chemical industry, the construction of industrial machinery, food processing, apparel and other textile manufacturing, and the fabrication of metal products. While the state remains one of the industrial powerhouses of the nation, manufacturing was in decline as a segment of the New York economy by the 1970s. Employment in the state’s industries fell by nearly one-quarter between 1983 and 1993. The decline was especially drastic in New York City, which lost more than two-fifths of its manufacturing jobs. Yet New York City, with its 1.7 million jobs, continues to dominate state employment. Contributing to the decline in manufacturing employment was the movement by some large corporations of their headquarters or operations from New York to neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut or to Southern and Western states. Between 1983 and 1993 the state lost about 328,000 manufacturing jobs. The decline is expected to continue into the next century, with estimates by the United States government anticipating a drop in manufacturing employment of more than 1 percent each year until the year 2005.
The New York City metropolitan area, including parts of eight counties, has many of the industrial workers in the state and generates much of the state’s industrial income. Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Utica-Rome, and Binghamton are the other manufacturing centers of significance.
Printing and publishing are the leading source of industrial jobs. The high-value printing and publishing industry is heavily concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area.
The instruments industry is centered at Rochester, which is noted for its cameras and optical goods. Other instruments manufactured in quantity in New York are those used in navigation, surgery and medicine, and measuring electricity.
The electrical and electronics industry is a large single source of manufacturing jobs in New York. New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties, Syracuse, Schenectady, and Utica are major centers of this industry. Schenectady, the home town of the General Electric Company, is a center for the production of electric generators and other major electrical equipment.
The production of chemicals ranks high among New York’s industrial activities. Chemicals produced include pharmaceuticals, a variety of goods for the household bath, plastics, and synthetic rubbers.
The manufacture of industrial machinery is led by the construction of refrigeration and heating equipment. Many workers are employed building turbines and generators, while other machines built include internal combustion engines, air and gas compressors, and peripheral equipment for computers.
The food-processing industry is also important. Buffalo is a leading flour-milling center and has some meat-packing. Wine, cheese, butter, cereals, and bakery and brewery products are processed at numerous locations. There are huge sugar refineries and coffee and spice warehouses in Brooklyn, New York City.
The apparel industry, though declining, is still a major source of jobs and continues to thrive in low-wage immigrant areas of New York City, which remains a center for the manufacture of women’s clothes and fur garments. Outside of New York City, Rochester was long noted for men’s and boys’ clothing, while Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnstown were centers for leather products. Troy was famous as a shirt-making center.
Except for its minimal production of natural gas, New York state lacks mineral fuels. However, its hydroelectric power resources are extensive. Two of the largest hydroelectric developments in the western world are at Niagara Falls and on the St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence Power Project was developed jointly by New York state and the province of Ontario, Canada, at the same time that the St. Lawrence Seaway was under construction. Hydroelectric plants generate 18 percent of the electricity produced in the state. Another 52 percent of it comes from steam plants burning fossil fuels, and the remainder comes from nuclear plants. In 2006 New York had 6 nuclear power plants in operation. Three nuclear plants were at Scriba, two were at Indian Point, and one was at Oswego.
The transportation industry is of major economic importance to the state. In 2004 New York had 182,405 km (113,341 mi) of public highways, of which 2,694 km (1,674 mi) were part of the national system of interstate highways. The Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, which has become part of the interstate system, was one of the first limited-access routes.
The fact that New York City lies mostly on islands has created the need for many transwater connections, including numerous bridges and tunnels to connect the various boroughs with one another and with New Jersey. Some interstate bridges link New Jersey with Staten Island. Tunnels under the lower Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge across it are also interstate facilities. Ontario, Canada, is linked with New York state by a number of bridges across the Niagara River and by three highway bridges across the St. Lawrence River.
The railroads of New York were long its economic lifelines. In 2004 there were 5,718 km (3,553 mi) of track. The railroads play an especially important role in transporting commuters between New York City and neighboring suburban areas. New York City is honeycombed underground with the world’s most extensive subway system.
Some 23 airports serve New York state. They vary from small single landing strips to New York City’s giant Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport, in 1996 the nation’s 19th and 20th busiest, respectively.
The Hudson River is an important traffic artery between Albany and New York City. A channel is maintained by the United States Corps of Engineers as far north as Waterford, north of the mouth of the Mohawk River. The New York State Canal System joins the Hudson at Albany. This canal was completed in 1918 to replace the historic Erie Canal. Today the canal system carries minor tonnages of mostly bulk commodities. The barge canal consists of 800 km (500 mi) of waterways that follow the course of the old Erie Canal. Spurs connect the canal with Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, and the larger Finger Lakes. Having in 1994 assumed responsibility for the canal system, the New York State Thruway Authority is working with private financial assistance to redevelop the canal system. When completed the system is envisioned as being primarily for recreational use and a historical attraction.
The state has gained a northern “coast” as a result of the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, although its overall economic impact has been minimal. The seaway was built along the St. Lawrence River in order to provide a channel for oceangoing vessels.
The port of New York City has one of the world’s largest and best natural harbors. Buffalo is New York’s second most important port, even though it lost most of its port functions following the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. Other port facilities are located at Albany, Port Jefferson Harbor, and Hempstead Harbor.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK|
New York is the third most populous state in the Union. New York led all the states in population from 1820 until 1963, when it was surpassed by California and then by Texas in 1994. If trends continue, New York will rank fourth in population after California, Texas, and Florida by the year 2020. The population of New York in 2000 was 18,976,457, an increase of 5.5 percent over the 1990 census figure of 17,990,455. New York remains one of the most densely populated states, with 158 persons per sq km (409 per sq mi) in 2006.
In 1990 nearly 16 percent of the state’s total population had been born abroad, and many of them resided in New York City. Whites constituted 67.9 percent of the population in 2000, blacks 15.9 percent, Asians 5.5 percent, and Native Americans 0.4 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 8,818. Those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 10.2 percent. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 15.1 percent of the people.
The New York City-Northeastern New Jersey urbanized area, extending east on Long Island and north up the Hudson Valley, had 21.2 million people in 2000. Other big urbanized areas were Buffalo, Rochester, Albany-Schenectady-Troy, and Syracuse. In 2000, 87 percent of the total population was urban.
New York City, one of the world’s leading commercial, financial, and cultural centers, is the largest city in the United States, with a population (2006) of 8,214,426. It is subdivided into five boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. A center for finance and commerce for the United States and much of the world, the city is also remarkable for its fusion of many cultures. Much of the nation’s domestic and international trade is arranged in New York City’s offices. Wall Street, home to the New York Stock Exchange, is synonymous with business. The city is at the heart of the nation’s cultural life. Broadway is world renowned for its theaters, and museums such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are among the best in the world. As a manufacturing center, New York is a national leader in such sectors as printed materials, processed food, and the production of clothing.
Buffalo, a major port and important commercial and industrial center in western New York state, is New York’s second largest city, with a population of 276,059 in 2006. The city, which has extensive harbor facilities, is one of the country’s largest rail junctions. Rochester, a major manufacturing center for photographic equipment, optical parts, hospital supplies, and scientific instruments, and a processing and distributing point for an extensive fruit-growing region, had a population of 208,123. Yonkers, with 197,852 inhabitants, is a manufacturing and commercial center, principally producing plastics and chemicals. Syracuse, a distribution and manufacturing center for electrical and transportation equipment, had a population of 140,658. Albany, the capital of New York, had a population of 93,963. Utica (59,082), New Rochelle (73,446), Mount Vernon (68,395), and Schenectady (61,560) all are small manufacturing centers.
By membership, New York’s chief religion is Roman Catholicism, claiming about 45 percent of religious adherents. Protestants are the second largest group, followed by Jews. More than one-quarter of the Jews in the United States live in New York. Baptists and Methodists are the largest Protestant groups.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
New York has the oldest state system of education. In 1784 a governing body, called the board of regents of the University of the State of New York, was authorized to control secondary and higher education. In 1812 a common school system was established, with school districts in each town. These two agencies were combined in 1904 to form the state education department, headed by the board of regents. The board sets educational policy for the state’s public and private elementary and secondary schools, public and private colleges and universities, proprietary schools, libraries, museums, and public broadcasting facilities. In addition, the board appoints the commissioner of education, licenses and regulates 38 professions, and certifies public school teachers, counselors, and administrators. The state education department serves as the administrative arm of the board. Attendance in most New York schools is compulsory for children from age 6 to 16; the majority of the state’s school districts have the option to require attendance to age 17. In 1999 private and parochial schools enrolled 17 percent of New York’s school-age children, one of the highest rates in the country.
In the 2002–2003 school year New York spent $13,316 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 13.3 students for every teacher (the nation as a whole averaged 15.9 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state in 2006, 84.1 percent had a high school diploma, while the national norm was 84.1 percent.
In its 78 public and 229 private institutions of higher learning, New York enrolls more students than any other state except California. Of these, 64 units are part of the State University of New York, an agency created in 1948 to supervise all tax-supported colleges, including 30 two-year community colleges. There are state university centers (which include graduate schools) in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook on Long Island.
The first institution of higher education in the state was King’s College (now Columbia University), in New York City, which was incorporated under a royal charter in 1754. In addition to Columbia University, which encompasses Barnard College, other schools include New York University, the Juilliard School, The Rockefeller University, Yeshiva University, Pratt Institute, Fordham University, Wagner College, St. John’s University, and the New School for Social Research, in New York City; the United States Military Academy, in West Point; Cornell University and Ithaca College, in Ithaca; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy; Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs; Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson; Hamilton College, in Clinton; Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva; Colgate University, in Hamilton; Union College, in Schenectady; Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie; Syracuse University, in Syracuse; Sarah Lawrence College, in Yonkers; and the University of Rochester, in Rochester.
New York has the most extensive library facilities in the United States, including the New York Public Library, the nation’s largest public library. The distinguished libraries of Columbia University, in New York City, and of Cornell University, in Ithaca, are among the largest collections in the world. Other educational centers have also built up notable collections. Among the special libraries in the state are the Sibley Music Library, in Rochester, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, in Hyde Park, and the Pierpont Morgan Library, in New York City. The state is served by 751 tax-supported library systems. The libraries circulate each year an average of 6.9 books for every resident.
New York City is the center of the state’s tremendous museum resources, with its world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History. Upstate museum facilities are in Buffalo and Rochester; both have outstanding science and art museums.
Some of New York’s many museums of special interest are the Fenimore Art Museum, showcasing the historical arts of the region; the Farmers’ Museum, a reconstructed 1845 settlement; and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, all in Cooperstown. Other museums of special interest include the George Eastman House, a restored mansion and museum of photography, in Rochester; the Corning Museum of Glass, in Corning; the New York State Museum in Albany, with a fine Native American collection among its historical displays; and Fort Ticonderoga, a restored military post and museum on Lake Champlain.
New York state has played a leading part in developing mass communication. The idea of a penny newspaper originated in 1833 with the New York Sun, which emphasized sensational news to gain circulation. Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune in the 1840s became the first newspaper with a national reputation for high standards of news coverage. In 2002 New York had 77 daily newspapers. The New York Times is one of the world’s principal newspapers, and the Wall Street Journal, also published in New York, is among the most influential newspapers in the country. Other important dailies include the Times Union, published in Albany; the Buffalo News; Newsday, published in Nassau County; the New York Daily News and the New York Post (one of the oldest newspapers in the United States); the Democrat and Chronicle, published in Rochester; and the Syracuse Herald-Journal and the Post-Standard, both published in Syracuse. New York City also is the main book- and magazine-publishing center in the United States.
In 1922, station WGY, at Schenectady, became the state’s first radio station. Six years later it operated the nation’s first experimental television station. However, commercial televising did not begin in New York until 1941, when WNBT (now NBC4), the nation’s first television station, was licensed in New York City. The three biggest U.S. television networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—have their headquarters in New York City. In 2002 New York was served by 134 AM and 247 FM radio stations and 50 television stations.
|E||Music and Theater|
New York offers a wide variety of musical and dramatic activities, with New York City having its well-known venues—the theater district of Broadway; off-Broadway; off-off-Broadway; Carnegie Hall; the Brooklyn Academy of Music; and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, home of New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera, and New York City Opera—as major attractions. Outside New York City, dramatic productions are presented by regional and university groups, as well as by summer theaters. Professional organizations such as Artpark, in Buffalo, the Skaneateles Festival, near Syracuse, and the Caramoor International Music Festival, in Westchester County, all present extensive summer programs. Summer festivals are also held at Lake George and Lake Placid. The unique Chautauqua Institution, near Jamestown, combines elements of the arts, education, religion, and recreation in an outstanding summer program. Rochester’s cultural life is enriched by the presence of the Eastman School of Music and the Philharmonic Orchestra. Buffalo, Albany, Long Island, and Syracuse also have symphony orchestras, while the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in Saratoga Springs, is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet. The Glimmerglass Opera offers repertory American and European opera each summer at the Alice Busch Opera Theater, located at the northern end of Otsego Lake.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
The combination of scenic beauty, a colorful history, and the attractions of New York City and other cities have made New York a very popular vacation state. Whether viewed from the Adirondacks’ mile-high Mount Marcy or from New York City’s famous Empire State Building, New York’s panoramas are unusual and impressive. Perhaps the state’s most famous spectacle is Niagara Falls, which draws millions of visitors each year.
Other striking features of the state are the towering Palisades of the Hudson River, the steep gorge of the Genesee River, and the chasm formed by the Ausable River. Visitors are also attracted to the series of caves in Howe Caverns, the mineral waters of Saratoga Springs, the sandy beaches on Long Island, the scenic Finger Lakes, and the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. The state’s resorts at these and other sites offer a wide variety of entertainment and recreation.
|A||National and State Parks|
The National Park Service administers a variety of national historic sites and monuments in New York state, representing the region’s rich history of people and events. The Statue of Liberty National Monument contains one of the country’s most recognizable icons in addition to Ellis Island, the place an estimated 12 million immigrants first stepped on United States soil. Also in New York City are Federal Hall National Memorial, home of the first U.S. Congress; Castle Clinton National Monument, which was originally built as a fort but has served many purposes during the nation’s history; General Grant National Memorial, with the tomb of and exhibits on the general and 18th president Ulysses S. Grant; and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, birthplace of the 26th president. On Long Island at Oyster Bay is the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, where Theodore Roosevelt made his home. Many places of national significance are in the Hudson River Valley. The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site preserves Val-Kill, the noted first lady’s private retreat. Also nearby in Hyde Park is the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, birthplace home of the 32nd president, as is Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, a huge home built by the financial and industrial leader Frederick Vanderbilt. Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon interprets First Amendment Rights of religion, speech, press, and assembly. The retirement home of the eighth president is preserved at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook. In Rome in the central portion of the state is the Fort Stanwix National Monument, a reconstructed fort from the American Revolution (1775-1783). The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where the presidential oath was administered, is in Buffalo. Saratoga National Historical Park was the scene of a decisive Revolutionary War battle (see Saratoga, Battles of). The birth of the movement for women’s rights at Seneca Falls, associated with the activities of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848, is commemorated in the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Fire Island was designated a national seashore in 1964 (See also Fire Island National Seashore). Gateway National Recreation Area was established in 1972 in New York Harbor, and two sections of the Delaware River have been declared a Wild and Scenic River (see Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River).
The state has developed nearly 200 parks and several forest preserves. The park system of New York enjoys many firsts, including the first state park (Niagara Reservation, 1885), first publicly-owned historic site (Washington’s Headquarters, 1850), first nature trail (Harriman State Park, 1925), and the first statewide system of Urban Cultural Parks (1982). Within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park are 2 million hectares (6 million acres) of public and private lands, making it not only the nation’s largest state park but larger than the combined areas of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Glacier national parks. Saltwater bathing is enjoyed at several state parks, including Jones Beach, Sunken Meadow, and Heckscher state parks. Of historic interest are Fort Niagara State Park, Newtown Battlefield Reservation, and Battle Island State Park. A state park devoted to the creative and performing arts opened in 1974 at Lewiston north of Niagara Falls. Palisades Interstate Park, operated by New York and New Jersey, lies along the scenic Hudson River. The newest park in the state includes 15,800 acres of Sterling Forest, a rugged woodland area forty miles northwest of New York City. The land, long sought after by conservationists, was purchased from private owners in 1998.
The state preserves numerous historical monuments. Two outstanding examples of colonial architecture are Philipse Manor in Yonkers and Schuyler Mansion in Albany. State-owned sites dating from the Revolution include Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh, the Continental Army’s final encampment at New Windsor Cantonment, and the home of General Nicholas Herkimer on the Mohawk River. Other state historic sites are the Walt Whitman House, near Huntington Station; the cottage in Wilton where President Ulysses S. Grant died; and the John Jay House, in Katonah.
|B||Other Places to Visit|
At the United States Military Academy at West Point, visitors may view regimental and brigade parades from mid-April through May, and from mid-September to early November. The legend of Sleepy Hollow has been perpetuated in the area around Tarrytown, where the home of Washington Irving, an old Dutch Reformed church, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are located. Perhaps the country’s most famous sports shrine, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, is in Cooperstown. Religious places of interest include a shrine in Auriesville that marks the scene of the martyrdom of America’s first Roman Catholic saints; the Mormon historic sites, such as the Joseph Smith Home, near Palmyra; and the Russian Orthodox Monastery, in Jordanville.
The New York Yankees baseball team, which uses Yankee Stadium in the Bronx (New York City), is one of the world’s best known professional sports teams. Other professional sports teams in the state include the Buffalo Bills (football); the New York Knicks (basketball); the New York Mets (baseball); and the New York Rangers, New York Islanders (based in Uniondale), and Buffalo Sabres (ice hockey). (The New York Jets and New York Giants professional football teams play at the Meadowlands, in New Jersey.) Madison Square Garden Center, in New York City, is a site for sports and entertainment events and for conventions.
With more ski centers than any other Eastern state, New York celebrates the winter sports season with numerous carnivals. One of the best known is the Winter Carnival at Saranac Lake in early February, with competition in bobsledding, ice skating, skiing, and other winter sports. Horse racing has been a popular summer attraction at Saratoga and Goshen for more than a century. There are also race tracks at Canandaigua, Batavia, Vernon, Monticello, and Hamburg, while three large tracks operate in the New York metropolitan area. Boat races at such resorts as Saranac Lake, First Lake, and North Creek attract many spectators, while others are drawn to the Hudson River White Water Derby in North Creek in May.
New York City is renowned for its parades, particularly the massive Thanksgiving Day and Saint Patrick’s Day parades. Other events represent the diverse nature of the urban region, from the Rockaways Fall Festival in September, centered on arts and crafts, to Harlem Week each August, celebrating the Harlem area of Manhattan, to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February, one of the most prestigious in the world. Festivals and events across the state are no less diverse. The season begins in Waterford each May with the Waterford/RiverSpark Canalfest, an annual salute to opening of the Erie Canal boating season with food, crafts, and canal rides. The Harbor and Carousel Festival in Rochester celebrates the city’s waterfront and menagerie carousel each June. The Strawberry Festival in Mattituck, also in June, pays homage to the berry with ethnic foods, dancing, and amusement rides. Firefighters demonstrate their skills during a competition and field day each June in Hudson, featuring contests and an antique firefighting apparatus show. The Peaceful Valley Bluegrass Festival, with stage shows, workshops, and square dances, occurs each July in Downsville. The Thousand Islands region commemorates its French Canadian heritage with the French Festival each July in Cape Vincent. The New York State Woodsmen’s Field Days hosts championship competitions in tree falling and other timber tasks each August in Boonville. The Empire State Games, one of the largest amateur athletic events in the country, also is held each August, the same month the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi River takes place in Gerry. Lockport’s Apple Country Festival waits until the fruit harvest is complete in October to celebrate the region’s bounty.
The first constitution of 1777 was replaced by new ones in 1822, 1846, and 1894. There have been nine constitutional conventions, the last one held in 1967. Its proposals were overwhelmingly defeated by the voters. However, the voters have accepted many of the amendments submitted to them after passage by two consecutive sessions of the legislature.
The executive branch of the government is headed by the governor, who is elected for a four-year term. Also elected for four years are the lieutenant governor, the comptroller, and the attorney general. The governor appoints officials, some with and some without the approval of the senate. The governor is also chief of the state militia and is responsible for delivering an annual state of the state address to the people.
The state legislature has a senate of 62 members and an assembly of 150 members; all state legislators are elected for two-year terms. The most important legislative leader in the senate is the temporary president. The chief officer in the assembly is the speaker. The legislature convenes each year in January.
At the lowest level are justices of the peace, village magistrates, police justices, and magistrates’ courts that have jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal cases. Above these are the country courts: the surrogate’s, county, family, city, and district courts. New York City has its own civil court, like county courts elsewhere, and a special criminal court. Voters in 12 judicial districts elect the supreme court justices, who have charge of most criminal and civil cases. The state supreme court has an appellate division. There is a separate court of claims that handles cases involving claims brought against the state. New York’s highest court is the court of appeals.
There are 57 counties in New York plus the 5 counties that compose New York City that no longer have functioning county governments. The 57 counties are governed by boards composed of town and city supervisors or by elected legislatures. Counties with legislatures may also have an elected executive. There are also 62 cities, 928 towns, and 554 villages. Most towns with more than 10,000 people and some others are towns of the first class, governed by a town board consisting of a supervisor and four council members. The town boards of second class towns usually have a supervisor, town justices of the peace, and two council members.
New York elects two U.S. senators and 29 members of the House of Representatives, giving the state 31 electoral votes in presidential elections.
The first human settlement of the area that is now New York probably occurred about 10,500 bc, after glaciers that had covered the region retreated. Archaeological sites from Staten Island to Lake Champlain indicate that the Paleo-Indians, who hunted mammoths and other prehistoric animals, existed until about 8000 bc. They gave way to the Archaic culture, lasting until about 1000 bc, whose people depended on deer, elk, birds and plants from the woodlands they inhabited. After that, the Northeast culture developed, and at some point hunting and gathering was replaced by agriculture as the main source of food.
Sometime after ad 1000, two major Native American language groups emerged in New York, the Algonquian and the Iroquoian. For several centuries the dominant group was the Algonquian-speaking tribes, including the Mahican, Delaware, and Wappinger, who lived in the southeast section of New York and up the Hudson River valley to Lake Champlain. The Algonquian tribes were primarily farmers who raised corn, squash, and beans, but they also caught fish, hunted game, and gathered berries, nuts, and roots.
Historians and archaeologists disagree on whether the Iroquois developed in the New York-Great Lakes region or migrated there from the mid-Mississippi Valley. Five of the tribes—the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca—united in about 1570 to form the Iroquois Confederacy, known as the Five Nations. From their base in central New York the Iroquois extended their domain, and during the 17th century they subdued almost all the tribes in a vast region extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the St. Lawrence River to the Tennessee River. Sometime in the early 1700s, the Tuscarora, an Iroquoian tribe that had migrated to New York from North Carolina, were formally admitted to the confederacy, and the name of the league was changed to the Six Nations.
The Iroquois, like the Algonquian people, had an agricultural economy, based mainly on corn. Families lived together in large bark-covered dwellings called longhouses. Each community was governed by a ruling council and a village chief. The entire confederacy was run by a fairly democratic common council of delegates, elected by members of various tribes. The league as a whole had no single leader, and decisions were usually made by a unanimous vote of the council.
Powerful in their relations with other tribes, the Iroquois began coveting guns, whiskey, and other provisions after they came in contact with Europeans. To gain these goods, the Iroquois traded beaver and other furs, first with the Dutch, then with the English. After the Iroquois wiped out the beaver in their original lands, they looked for new supplies, often attempting to conquer new tribes and territories. In the 18th century, the Iroquois often ceded land to the British and French for provisions or political concessions. The Iroquois Confederacy continued to play a central role in American history until after the American Revolution (1775-1783).
Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian ship captain in the service of France, entered New York Harbor in 1524 but did not really explore the region. In 1603 the northern boundaries of present-day New York were explored by Samuel de Champlain and a party of French fur traders. In 1609 the French explorer discovered what is now Lake Champlain. That same year an Englishman, Henry Hudson, sailed up the river that bears his name as far as the region around present-day Albany. Hudson’s report to his Dutch employers aroused much interest, and several Dutch trading vessels returned to the Hudson Valley for furs.
The first settlements in New York were made in 1624, when the Dutch West India Company sent out a boatload of colonists. Most of the settlers established themselves in the northern Hudson Valley, near the future site of Albany, at Fort Orange. Soon more colonists arrived and made their home on the lower tip of Manhattan, at a site that came to be known as New Amsterdam. In 1626 the governor of the colony, Peter Minuit, purchased Manhattan from the local Native Americans for trinkets valued at about $24. The Dutch colony, called New Netherland, grew slowly at first, because the Dutch West India Company neglected the northern outposts in favor of its holdings in the rich West Indies. A handful of traders supplied the Native Americans who brought in furs, the region’s prime resource. In 1629, however, the company offered its members large estates, called patroonships, if they would send settlers to New Netherland. Most of these ventures did not succeed, because few Dutch wanted to leave their homeland.
In 1637 the company appointed Willem Kieft director-general of New Netherland. A dictatorial leader, Kieft drove the colony into war in 1641 with the Algonquian tribes of the area. After a series of disputes arose between settlers and natives over land ownership, Kieft tried to impose a tax on the Native Americans to help pay for fortification of the settlements. When the tribes refused, Kieft caused the massacre of more than 100 native inhabitants. Four years of raids and reprisals by both sides followed, in which more than 1,000 Native Americans and settlers were killed.
Kieft was replaced in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant. Although honest and efficient, Stuyvesant also used dictatorial methods in governing the colonists, who opposed high taxes on imports and demanded a voice in the government. Meanwhile, English colonists had expelled Dutch settlers from the Connecticut Valley and founded settlements on present-day Long Island. In 1650 Stuyvesant was forced to cede all of Long Island east of Oyster Bay to Connecticut, an English colony.
In 1664 King Charles II of England decided to take over the entire region, basing his claim on the explorations made for England by explorer John Cabot in 1497 and 1498. Charles granted to his brother James, Duke of York and Albany, all the land between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers. To enforce the English claim, Colonel Richard Nicolls sailed into New York Harbor with four ships and 400 soldiers. Stuyvesant wanted to fight, but the citizens of New Amsterdam were unwilling to resist. New Netherland and New Amsterdam were renamed New York. Beverwyck, the settlement that grew up around Fort Orange, became known as Albany.
In 1665 Nicolls, the first English governor of the colony, called a meeting of the representatives of settlers living on Long Island and in what is now Westchester County. He refused their request for an assembly, but he gave them some degree of local self-government. A document, called the Duke’s Laws, provided for the election of town boards and constables and guaranteed freedom of worship. Later these rights were granted to the rest of the province.
In 1682 Thomas Dongan was made governor. He called a representative assembly, which in 1683 adopted the Charter of Liberties and Privileges. This charter called for an elected legislature to levy taxes and make laws, and it guaranteed trial by jury and freedom of worship. Dongan gave New York and Albany charters providing for limited home rule and trading rights. He also cultivated the goodwill of the Iroquois, who were a buffer between New York and the French colony in Canada.
The guarantees of the charter never went into effect. In 1685 the Duke of York and Albany became king as James II, and he included New York within the Dominion of New England, a colony that incorporated most of New England under the close control of a royal governor. New Yorkers were infuriated when James dismissed Dongan and placed them under Sir Edmund Andros, the dominion’s governor, who ruled from Boston.
The English governors of New York gave huge tracts of land to their friends, which resulted in only a small number of landowners. Many of these landlords were more interested in land speculation than in settlement, so the colony’s population grew slowly outside the major towns. Of special importance in New York’s history were the manors, large land holdings whose owners had almost unlimited power over them. Six such manors covered more than half of present-day Westchester County. The only successful Dutch patroonship, Rensselaerswyck, became a manor under the English. Located near Albany, it consisted of more than 280,000 hectares (700,000 acres). The Manor of Saint George, on Long Island, was more than 80 km (50 miles) long and covered the central part of the island from shore to shore.
The landholding aristocracy and the wealthy merchants of New York City controlled colonial affairs. Among the most prominent and influential families were the Livingstons, Schuylers, De Lanceys, and Van Cortlandts. Most of New York’s small farmers were located on Long Island and along the Hudson River in what is now Ulster County.
In 1689 news arrived in New York that James II had been overthrown in England’s Glorious Revolution and that Andros, governor of the Dominion of New England, had been captured by Boston rebels. A group of armed New Yorkers called on Jacob Leisler, a German-born merchant, to take command of the colony. Leisler was stubborn and ill-tempered, but he championed the people’s rebellion against the local aristocracy of landlords and merchants. He won control over the whole colony and established an assembly.
In 1691 King William III, who had replaced James II, sent Colonel Henry Sloughter to take charge of New York. Sloughter listened to the charges of Leisler’s enemies and immediately set up a special court that convicted Leisler of treason. Leisler was executed, and for 20 years the colony remained split into two camps with hostile interests.
New York’s location made it important in a series of wars fought between the English and French after 1689 for domination of the North American colonies. The side that controlled lakes Champlain, Ontario, and Erie and the Mohawk and Hudson rivers had a commanding position in North America. The Iroquois, situated near many of these waterways, occupied a strategic position between the two antagonists, and both sides sought their aid. In the first wars, the Iroquois Confederacy usually remained neutral, although respected frontier trading agents, such as Sir William Johnson, sometimes secured their aid for the English. In the last war, the French and Indian War (1754-1763), some Iroquois were persuaded to side with the British, while other tribes were allied with the French. With the Iroquois’s help, Britain won the war in 1763, expelling France from North America.
However, with the threat of war gone, land speculators and settlers entered much of the Iroquois territory, provoking clashes with the Native Americans. Under the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, the Iroquois ceded to New York all lands east of a line drawn southward from present-day Rome, New York.
To repay its heavy debts from the wars with the French and to meet the costs of keeping British troops in frontier forts, Great Britain passed a series of laws restricting trade and imposing higher taxes in the colonies (see Navigation Acts, Sugar and Molasses Acts, Stamp Act, Townshend Acts). These measures led to violent protests by colonists, and many New York merchants and professional men formed patriotic groups.
About half of New York’s 186,000 inhabitants in 1771 were of British descent, and many of them remained loyal to the British crown. These Loyalists, or Tories, gained control of the assembly, where they opposed the revolutionary mood within the colony. They rejected the embargo on British goods imposed by the First Continental Congress in 1774. The next year the rebel elements in New York formed a provincial congress in defiance of the assembly and sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. After receiving news of the battles of Lexington and Concord, which began the American Revolution in April 1775, rebellious New Yorkers took up arms to support the Massachusetts militia (see Lexington, Battle of and Concord, Battle of). In October Governor William Tryon fled New York, followed by many Tories, and the provincial congress took steps to set up a provisional government.
In July 1776 the New York congress ratified the Declaration of Independence and changed its own name to the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York. The next year, New York’s first constitution was drafted, and the first legislature met in Kingston. George Clinton, who had served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, was elected the state’s first governor.
Almost one-third of the military engagements in the American Revolution (1775-1783) took place in New York state. In the early stages of the fighting, the Americans captured Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point, on Lake Champlain. In September 1776, after the battles of Long Island and Harlem Heights, the British occupied New York City and held it until the war ended. The American victory at Saratoga in October 1777 was a turning point in the war, thwarting the British plan to occupy Albany, control the Hudson River and cut off New England from the other colonies.
When the revolution broke out, the powerful Iroquois Confederacy could not agree on whether to side with the Americans or the British, or to remain neutral. But some of the individual tribes joined the British, and Mohawk chief Joseph Brant led bands of his people and Tories in raids on unprotected frontier settlements in New York. In the summer of 1779, American generals James Clinton and John Sullivan marched against Native American villages near the Finger Lakes and present-day Elmira and decisively defeated a combined force of Tories and Native Americans.
Clinton took harsh measures against the Tories. By the end of the revolution more than 30,000 British sympathizers, including more than half of New York’s landholding aristocracy, had fled to Canada. The state seized their estates and sold the land to speculators and farmers. Most of the Iroquois who had sided with the British also settled in Canada. Those who remained signed treaties that confined them to reservations, and by 1800 they had signed away most of their land.
|F||Ratification of the Constitution|
After the revolution ended, many New Yorkers opposed establishing a strong national government, preferring to retain the weaker structure created under the Articles of Confederation. The proposed national constitution prohibited states from taxing interstate commerce, a provision that would end New York’s power to collect customs duties on goods entering from New England and New Jersey. When the Constitution of the United States was drawn up in 1787, Alexander Hamilton was the only New York delegate at the constitutional convention to sign the final draft.
In 1788 New York elected a convention to consider ratification of the Constitution. The forces who opposed ratification were led by Governor Clinton and included 46 delegates. Supporters of the Constitution numbered only 19. But they were led by two major statesmen of the time: Hamilton, a prominent lawyer and leading advocate of a strong central government, and John Jay, former chief justice of the state and the nation’s secretary for foreign affairs. Hamilton and Jay conducted a skillful campaign for ratification, publishing their arguments in a series of articles known as The Federalist.
While the New York convention was meeting, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, in June 1788, which put it into effect. New York faced isolation if it did not join the Union, and prominent men in New York City hinted at secession from the state if the convention did not ratify. On July 26, 1788, the convention ratified the Constitution, making New York the 11th state.
From 1785 to 1790 New York City served as the temporary national capital. At the city’s Federal Hall, George Washington was inaugurated as the nation’s first president on April 30, 1789.
|G||Early Political Conflicts|
Two political parties vied for power in early New York state. The Federalist Party, led by Hamilton, favored a strong federal government that would be controlled mostly by wealthy commercial interests. The Federalists held power in New York from 1795 to 1800, while John Jay served as governor. Then their power dwindled, and by 1815 they were no longer a major party.
After 1800 leadership of the state passed to the quarreling factions of the Anti-Federalists. They considered themselves followers of Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party, which advocated states’ and individual rights and appealed to the nation’s farmers. They were led by four men who each had a popular following and high ambitions: George Clinton, his nephew De Witt Clinton, Daniel D. Tompkins, and Aaron Burr. Of the four, all but Burr served terms as governor, and George Clinton, Tompkins, and Burr all served as vice presidents of the United States.
In 1798 Burr gained control of the patriotic and charitable organization called the Tammany Society, organizing it as a personal political machine that helped elect Jefferson president and Burr vice president in 1800. But Burr failed to win renomination as vice president in 1804 and also failed to win the governorship because of forceful opposition by Hamilton, his bitter rival. Burr’s political career came to an end in 1804, when he challenged and killed Hamilton in a duel.
While the other Anti-Federalist leaders served in national offices, De Witt Clinton became the most important man in state politics. From 1803 to 1815, except for two years, he was mayor of New York City. In 1812 he ran unsuccessfully for president, although he carried many Northern states. From 1817 to 1828, except for one term, he was governor of the state and won fame for promoting construction of the Erie Canal.
|H||War of 1812|
Much of the War of 1812 (1812-1815) between the United States and Britain was fought along New York’s frontiers with Canada. During the war, which was fought over the maritime rights of neutral nations, the British navy blockaded U.S. ports. Many New York merchants opposed the war because the blockade interfered with trade.
Attempts by the United States to invade British territory in Canada were unsuccessful, and in 1814 the British launched an offensive against Niagara and Lake Champlain. In a decisive naval battle, Americans under Captain Thomas Macdonough defeated the British near Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain, thwarting the British invasion of the northern United States.
|I||Growth of the State|
In the last years of the 18th century large tracts of land in central and western New York had been opened for settlement. An area extending from just below Ithaca to Lake Ontario, called the Military Tract, was reserved for veterans of the American Revolution. Lands west of Seneca Lake that had formerly been owned by Massachusetts were turned over to New York and sold to business leaders and speculators. After the revolution, New England’s farmers, discouraged by stony soil and high taxes, moved west into New York. In 1820 half the state’s inhabitants were New Englanders or their descendants. Central and western New York were quickly settled, but the north country remained a sparsely populated wilderness for many years.
From the 1820s to 1860, New York state and especially New York City were transformed by a flood of immigrants and unprecedented urban growth. The United States experienced a wave of immigration from Europe, starting in 1820 and reaching a peak in 1845. For most immigrants, their point of entry was New York City, and huge numbers of them stayed there. By 1860 New York was the nation’s largest city, with a population of 1 million, and nearly half of those residents were foreign-born. New York state’s population also exploded during this period, from 340,120 people in 1790 to more than 3.8 million in 1860. Nearly one-fifth of those residents were foreign-born. In contrast to colonial times, when most New Yorkers lived on farms, by 1860 about half of them lived in cities and towns.
The largest group of immigrants was the Irish, especially after a devastating potato famine struck their homeland in the 1840s. Many settled in New York City, while German immigrants tended to settle upstate, especially in Buffalo and Rochester. This influx of people included skilled European craftsmen and a huge pool of low-wage laborers that enabled New York to develop diverse industries. But low wages, long hours, and harsh working conditions made life difficult for many industrial workers. To try to improve their conditions, many skilled artisans and factory workers, who were mostly women and children, joined labor unions. With such rapid population growth, New York City and other urban areas faced problems of inadequate water supplies, sanitation and housing.
By 1830 New York ranked first among the states in population, manufacturing, trade, commerce, and transportation. New York City emerged as the primary center for textile manufacturing and ready-made clothing, banking, imports, insurance, and the stock exchange. From 1825 to the late 1850s the Genesee Valley was a national center for growing wheat. Other important products included livestock, corn, barley, oats, and hops. When the Midwest became the major source of grain, New York’s farmers turned to dairy products, fruits and vegetables. They supplied great quantities of milk, butter, cheese, and other perishable goods to the growing cities.
|J||Growth of Transportation|
Inexpensive transportation and a strategic location were vital elements in New York’s growth. Canals, railroads and new types of ships were developed, enabling the state’s manufactured products to reach a vast market throughout the nation. All trade from New England to the West and South had to pass through New York state, and the Mohawk Valley was the best route for westward migration.
Before 1860 the state’s system of natural waterways, with outlets to the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes, was the most important means of transporting goods and passengers. Soon after inventor Robert Fulton successfully tested the first efficient steamboat on the Hudson River in 1807, steamboats were operating on lakes Champlain, Ontario, and Erie; on Long Island Sound; and on the Hudson River. Shipbuilders on the East River in New York City built clipper ships that carried goods to the West Coast of the continent and to Asia. New York City was the center of all trade between Europe and the United States; even cotton from the South passed through the city on its way to England.
The Erie Canal, built between 1817 and 1825, was the state’s most important water route. The 584-km (363-mi) canal linked the Great Lakes with the Hudson River, making New York City the marketing outlet for agricultural and industrial products from upstate New York and the Great Lakes regions. It also carried immigrants from New York City to settle on the newly opened farmland of the Midwest. By 1857 nearly 1,450 km (900 mi) of secondary canals linked such places as Binghamton and Oswego with the Erie Canal. The Champlain Canal connected Lake Champlain to the Hudson River and was an important factor in spurring the development of the lumber industry in the Adirondack region.
In 1831 New York’s first railroad began operations between Albany and Schenectady. Within ten years, lines were running from Albany to Buffalo. In 1851 the Erie Railroad was completed, connecting the counties of southern New York with Lake Erie and the Hudson River. It was an important factor in the economic development of the region.
The state also chartered many turnpike companies to build toll roads between important points. By 1825 more than 6,400 km (4,000 mi) of turnpike roads were in use. Although these early roads were crude, they greatly helped farmers move their produce to market. It was not until the development of the automobile that roads became as important to New York as water and rails.
From 1820 to 1860, a growing number of Americans participated in government affairs, as many states extended the right to vote and established more direct elections for governor and president. In 1821 New York gave almost all white men of legal age the right to vote, eliminating a requirement that voters be property owners. A property requirement continued to apply to free blacks until 1874, limiting the number who could vote. During this period a new two-party political system emerged in the United States. The parties became important forces in organizing voters to support candidates and issues. New York played a crucial part in this process.
The ruling Democratic-Republican Party in New York state had two factions. The Clintonians, led by Governor De Witt Clinton, tended to advocate a strong government led by wealthy commercial interests and favored internal improvements to aid the growth of business. Opposing the Clintonians was the Albany Regency, led by lawyer and legislator Martin Van Buren. It favored states’ rights and had the general support of the farmers, mechanics, and small business owners. The regency supported the presidential campaign of war hero Andrew Jackson, who claimed to be the champion of the common people. In elections in 1828, Van Buren won the New York governor’s race and Jackson was elected president. Their party, known from that point as the Democratic Party, pioneered the use of many political techniques: massive rallies and parades, campaign workers to get out the vote, newspaper publicity, and buttons and hats with the candidate’s name and face on them. Van Buren became vice president under Jackson in 1832 and in 1836 was the first New Yorker to be elected president of the United States.
In New York City, the regency had the support of the Tammany Society, the local political machine. The society, founded as a charitable and patriotic group, gained more and more influence as immigrants settled in the city. Tammany Society politicians helped the newcomers adjust to American life, become naturalized citizens, and often get city jobs. In return, Tammany received their loyalty and their votes.
New York also gave rise to the Anti-Masonic Party, which formed to oppose the influence of Freemasons, a fraternal group, in politics. It claimed the Freemasons, whose members took an oath of secrecy and practiced mysterious rituals, were antidemocratic. Opposition to the Freemasons began after William Morgan, a Freemason who was about to reveal the secrets of the order, disappeared in 1826 in western New York and was widely believed to have been kidnapped and murdered by fellow Freemasons. The party developed a national following but dissolved about 1834 to become part of the Whig Party, a conservative, business-oriented group. Whigs in New York, under the leadership of Thurlow Weed, held many state offices in the 1840s.
By 1850 both the Whigs and the Democrats had split into factions over the issue of slavery. Two former Whig leaders, New York City newspaper editor Horace Greeley and former New York Governor William Seward, played roles in organizing the national Republican Party, a coalition of groups that opposed slavery.
Another change in the political makeup of New York occurred in the 1840s with the end of the manorial system, one of the last remnants of colonial New York. In 1839 the Antirent War broke out when farmers on the Van Rensselaer estate in the Albany region refused to pay back rent. The rebellion spread to farmers on neighboring estates and won the support of many politicians. As a result, in 1846 the state constitution was amended to break up the holdings of the landed aristocracy, and small farmers were able to own their own farms.
The 1860 presidential election divided the generally antislavery Northern states from the proslavery Southern states. New York gave its 35 electoral votes to Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in this crucial election. However, not all New Yorkers favored Lincoln’s efforts to save the Union. Mayor Fernando Wood of New York City and many merchants, caring little about slavery, wanted the city to remain neutral so it could maintain its commercial ties with the Southern states, as well as with the North. Poor immigrants also opposed Lincoln’s policies, especially his stand against slavery. They feared free blacks would compete with them for jobs and bring them economic ruin.
However, most citizens rallied to the Union cause in the American Civil War (1861-1865), which began a month after Lincoln was inaugurated and Southern states had started to secede. One-third of the casualties of the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 were soldiers from New York. But as the war dragged on, enthusiasm declined. In 1863 Congress passed the first military draft law, but allowed exemptions for men who could pay $300 or hire substitutes. This provision, called the “Rich Man’s Exemption,” caused widespread anger among the poor workingmen of New York City, especially Irish immigrants. When the law took effect in July 1863, a mob burned the draft headquarters, then rampaged through the city, lynching blacks, burning neighborhoods, and looting. Federal troops had to be pulled off the battlefield to end the Draft Riots, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and about $2 million in property was damaged.
The Civil War strongly affected New York’s development. Although some industries boomed, the rate of industrial growth slowed down. Factories making war goods ran extra shifts, but cotton mills cut back to half time. Factory workers suffered a cut in buying power because prices rose faster than wages. On the other hand, rural New York prospered because of rising farm prices. This boom was offset in the long run, however, because the countryside lost thousands of young men to the Army and, after the war, to the cities. The war also brought with it a considerable amount of corruption and illegal profit making. The war did little to improve the conditions for the free blacks of New York. Discrimination kept them in the lowest-paying jobs and poorest neighborhoods, and politicians paid little attention to their plight.
|M||Immigration and Labor|
A second major period of immigration, which began after the Civil War and peaked in the first two decades of the 20th century brought about 30 million people into the United States. While the earlier immigrants had come mostly from northern Europe, many of the immigrants in this period were Russians, Italians, Poles, and others from eastern and southern Europe, including many Jews. The majority of immigrants first set foot in America on Ellis Island, in New York Harbor. As before, many remained in New York City or settled in cities upstate. From 1890 to 1920 the population of New York state grew from 6 million to 10.4 million. From its pre-Civil War population of 1.2 million, New York City grew to nearly 5 million by 1910.
The new immigrants provided a steady supply of workers for the state’s growing industries: the steel and heavy metal manufacturing plants around Buffalo, the new photography industry that inventor George Eastman established in Rochester, the electric and locomotive plants in Schenectady, and the garment industry in New York City. The population shift from the farms to the cities, begun before the Civil War, continued at a faster rate. This meant laborers were also needed to build city streets, apartment buildings, subways, and electric trolley and railway lines. Free public education, established throughout the state in 1867, helped the immigrants adjust to their new country.
But life for many foreign-born Americans was difficult. They lived in overcrowded slum tenements—many without heat, lighting, or sanitation—for which they often paid high rents. In factories and garment sweatshops, they worked long hours for low wages, often in unsafe or unhealthful conditions. As workers tried to improve their lives, the labor movement grew and national unions were founded, such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL) led by Samuel Gompers. Two unions in the garment industry, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) (see UNITE HERE: International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union) and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, had a strong influence on New York state. As pioneers in welfare unionism, they built apartment houses and provided health clinics, concerts, and summer camps for their members.
The grim working conditions for garment workers were dramatically demonstrated in 1911, when a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City killed 146 women trapped in the factory. Reform efforts after the fire led New York to adopt some of the most progressive labor laws in the nation, including laws regulating sweatshops, factory safety, and the employment of women and children.
|N||Corruption and the Progressives|
The corruption that was characteristic of the United States in the years after the Civil War flourished in New York. In New York City, William M. Tweed became an important figure in the Tammany Society, the Democratic political machine, and formed the Tweed Ring with other politicians. The ring openly bought votes, encouraged judicial corruption, and controlled New York City politics, costing the city an estimated $30 million to $200 million. Tammany Hall, the society’s headquarters, became a synonym for a corrupt political machine.
Upstate politicians and legislators from both parties matched “Boss Tweed” in their enthusiasm for graft but lacked his success. The two major parties were dominated by bosses who cared mostly about patronage, the practice of giving out jobs for political advantage. Tammany Hall, even after Tweed’s downfall in 1872, remained a power in Democratic politics. The Republicans were ruled by men like U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling and Thomas C. Platt, experts in using the spoils system, under which they bestowed jobs and political offices on their friends and supporters rather than appointing the most qualified candidates.
Periodically, reformers succeeded in restoring honest government to New York State. Samuel J. Tilden, a New York City lawyer, led the exposé of the Tweed Ring and in 1874 was elected governor of New York. Corruption was so widespread throughout the country that in 1876 Tilden’s reputation for honesty formed a basis for him to run for president on the Democratic ticket. Although Tilden won more popular votes than his Republican opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes, the electoral vote was contested in several states and an electoral commission declared Hayes the winner. In 1882 Grover Cleveland was elected governor on a reform ticket and was elected to the presidency in 1884 and 1892.
In addition to politicians, New York business leaders also practiced gross corruption, especially during the unprecedented industrial growth that occurred from 1877 to 1893. Because New York was the financial, commercial, and industrial center of the nation, financial misdeeds there were more spectacular than in other areas of the country. Through widespread bribery, the major corporations all but controlled the New York legislature. Stock manipulation and legislative bribery helped create fortunes for railroad barons such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Daniel Drew, and James Fisk.
By the end of the 19th century a progressive movement developed to combat corruption, regulate trusts, expand democracy, and reform the worst abuses of urban industrial life. Theodore Roosevelt was elected in 1898 as New York’s first important progressive governor. Because of his reform efforts and his independence from the Republican Party machine, the party boss, Thomas Platt, arranged to get him out of state politics by having him made the party’s vice presidential nominee in 1900. This led Roosevelt to the presidency after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.
Even more successful than Roosevelt in passing progressive measures was Charles Evans Hughes, an independent Republican, who was New York governor from 1907 to 1910. Hughes brought the public utilities and the railroads under stricter government control, sponsored legislation to tighten state regulation of banking and finance companies, passed a law to compensate workers injured on the job, and championed measures to improve social welfare and public health. He also instituted important administrative reforms.
Hughes resigned as governor in 1910 to become an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. During the next four years, while the Democratic Party controlled the governor’s office, laws were passed to regulate the Wall Street securities industry, create direct primary elections, revise and strengthen workers’ compensation, and advance social welfare programs.
Beginning in World War I (1914-1918), large numbers of Southern blacks began migrating to the state to escape prejudice and poverty. Settling mostly in New York City, blacks were subjected to less discrimination in New York than in the South but were regarded by many people as second-class citizens. The New York City neighborhood of Harlem became the center of black cultural life, attracting many writers and artists.
A similar migration of blacks from the South occurred during and after World War II (1939-1945), as New York became an important producer of military supplies for the defense industry. Large numbers of Puerto Ricans also arrived in the 1950s and 1960s seeking jobs, and most settled in New York City.
|P||Liberal Political Tradition|
During the 1920s New York became known for its progressive government. Under Democratic Governor Alfred E. Smith (1919-1921 and 1923-1929), state government was reorganized and consolidated, the power of the governor was increased, the state park system was expanded, and cities were given wider power to govern themselves. Far-reaching social legislation was enacted, including an eight-hour workday and state aid for health and education.
In 1928 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected governor. The Great Depression, the economic hard times that began in 1929, prevented Roosevelt from continuing Smith’s reform policies. But as governor, Roosevelt was able to experiment with many programs that became part of the New Deal, his economic strategy for battling the Depression, after he became president in 1933.
Roosevelt was succeeded as governor by Herbert H. Lehman, a wealthy banker with strong liberal convictions. While maintaining a balanced budget, he worked to alleviate mass unemployment and cooperate with Roosevelt’s social programs. New Deal public works projects hired many of New York’s unemployed.
In 1936 the small but influential American Labor Party was founded, largely by leaders of the two major garment workers unions. Ten years later, the party split and one faction formed the Liberal Party. Working usually with the Democrats but sometimes with the Republicans, the Liberals helped nominate progressive candidates for political office. The Liberal Party would remain the third party on the state ballot until it was replaced by the Conservative Party in the 1960s.
In 1942 Thomas E. Dewey, a crime-fighting district attorney, was elected governor, the first Republican to hold that office in 20 years. Dewey continued the social programs of his Democratic predecessors. In 1945 he supported passage of the Ives-Quinn Act, the nation’s first state law to outlaw discrimination in employment. Dewey also began the construction of the New York Thruway, which in 1964 was renamed the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway.
In 1954 Democrat William Averell Harriman was elected governor. In the same year, work was begun on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. Completed in 1959, it enabled oceangoing vessels to reach New York ports on the Great Lakes by way of the St. Lawrence River. Hydroelectric projects greatly expanded power-generating capacity.
In 1958 Republican Nelson A. Rockefeller defeated Harriman in the election for governor. Rockefeller, who served until 1973, governed in the liberal tradition established by his predecessors. He increased many of the state’s social services, especially aid to education. The state university system, founded in 1948, expanded rapidly, and the state also aided private colleges. It encouraged the construction of sewage disposal plants and enrolled in Medicaid. To finance such spending, taxes were raised, a state lottery was adopted, and the government borrowed heavily.
In 1964 the United States Supreme Court ruled that state election districts had to be apportioned according to the principle of “one man, one vote.” Reapportionment two years later gave New York’s cities, and especially the suburbs, more representation in the legislature.
In 1971 the bloodiest prison rebellion in U.S. history resulted in the deaths of 43 people at the Attica State Correctional Facility.
From 1950 to 1970, New York’s population increased by about 3.4 million to a total of 18.2 million. It was the nation’s most populous state until the 1960s, when California surpassed it. During the 1970s, the population of New York declined by more than 680,000, as residents moved to other regions of the country that offered better economic opportunities. The state’s major cities, including New York City, were hardest hit, as residents moved to the suburbs, a trend that began after World War II (1939-1945). By the early 1980s, suburban New York City was home to more than 25 percent of the state’s population, which by 2000 had rebounded to nearly 19 million.
As the suburbs grew, the urban population became more heavily black and Puerto Rican. Chronically high unemployment and a series of social problems, such as rising crime rates, emerged as major concerns by the 1980s. Federal and state welfare programs became a lifeline for the cities’ poorest residents, but the price was higher taxes as benefits were raised to keep people above the poverty level.
Behind the state’s growing social problems was New York’s economic transformation. Like other Eastern and Midwestern states in the “Rust Belt,” New York saw its old industrial base shrink in the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1972 and 1987, jobs in manufacturing decreased by nearly 500,000. Industries such as steel, clothing, leather, and printing declined dramatically as demand for goods fell and some companies moved to more favorable Sun Belt locations. Expansion in service, retailing, and communications only partially filled the gap, with jobs that usually paid lower wages and did not offer the benefits and security that union organization had won for workers in the older industries. Union membership dropped across the state, and by the early 1980s more public employees belonged to unions than did workers in the private sector. Large corporations laid off many workers, adding to the economic dislocation in New York state.
New York’s political leaders had to grapple with the state’s social and economic problems. Democratic Governor Hugh L. Carey, who succeeded Rockefeller in 1973, faced a financial crisis in state and local government. Only emergency aid from federal and state governments, organized by Carey’s administration, prevented the bankruptcy of New York City, Yonkers, and several state agencies in 1975 and 1976. Carey pursued other policies designed to adjust the tax structure, encourage business investment, and stimulate the state’s economy. At the same time, he kept intact New York’s safety net of programs to help the poor and the unemployed. To combat crime, he sponsored a law in 1978 that increased penalties for violent crimes and provided that older juveniles accused of serious crimes would be tried in adult courts.
Governor Mario Cuomo (1983-1995) continued the Democratic Party’s liberal tradition on social welfare and tried to stabilize and expand the state’s economy. He also supported and won bond issues to maintain and repair New York’s infrastructure. But Cuomo was weakened politically by rising crime rates, increasing welfare costs, taxes that many residents felt were too high, and lagging business investment. A phased-in tax cut could not be completed as scheduled because of growing state deficits. In 1994 Cuomo was defeated in his bid for a fourth term by Republican George Pataki, a fiscal conservative and proponent of smaller government. Pataki immediately announced a program to trim the state’s bureaucracy and regulatory functions, begin tax cuts, and improve New York’s business climate. In 1995 he approved a bill that restored the death penalty for certain crimes, similar to legislation Carey and Cuomo had vetoed repeatedly. Pataki resolved to reduce the share of state financing for public higher education and advocated the reorganization of the State University of New York. By 2001 crime had been dramatically reduced, and the population of the state was again on the rise.
On September 11, 2001, New York City became the site of a devastating terrorist attack (see September 11 Attacks). Two hijacked passenger jets crashed into the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center, located in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district. As people evacuated the buildings, both towers collapsed completely, killing thousands. The same morning, another hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C., and a fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks, which were the deadliest in United States history. See Terrorism.
Pataki did not seek a fourth term as governor in 2006. Voters elected Democrat Eliot Spitzer, attorney general of New York, as the next governor. Spitzer pledged to fund development projects in an effort to reverse the economic decline of cities in upstate New York, but his administration ended abruptly in March 2008 after he was implicated in a prostitution scandal. It was the first time since 1913 that a New York governor was forced to resign. Spitzer was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson, who became the state’s first black governor.
The History section of this article was contributed by Robert F. Wesser. The remainder of the article was contributed by Thomas J. Gergel.