Overview of New York City

History of New York City

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New York Harbour was discovered by the Italian Giovanni da Verrazzano during his explorations of the east coast of America in 1524. He recorded meetings with the indigenous Lenape Native Indians, but it seems that he did not venture further inland. An Englishman working for the Dutch East India Company, Henry Hudson (after whom New York's Hudson River is named) discovered Manhattan in 1609 and sailed inland to the site of the present day state capital, Albany. The Dutch established the settlement of New Amsterdam in 1613, and began colonisation in 1624. The island of Manhattan was officially purchased from the Lenape Indians by the governor of New Holland in 1626, for the sum of 24 dollars.

The British took control of the city in 1664 and renamed it New York, in honour of the Duke of York. At the end of the second Anglo-Dutch was in 1667, the Treaty of Breda officially accorded the sovereignty of the colony to the British. The city was further colonised by English puritans, fleeing persecution in their home country.

The city was the site of a series of battles during the American War of Independence, and was occupied by the British until the end of the war. New York briefly became the capital of the newly-formed United States of America between 1788 and 1790. Following the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, New York became the gateway between the Great Lakes and the agricultural Great Plains and overtook Boston and Philadelphia in economic importance. A period of increased immigration followed, with European immigrants rushing to start a new life in the United States, followed by an influx of African Americans coming to city from the southern states in the 1920s.

In 1925, New York took over the title of 'worlds most populous city' from London. The 1920s saw a huge boom in the city's development; many of it's sky-scrapers date from this period. The stock market crash of 1929 and an overall economic downturn led to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unemployment in some areas soared to 20% and in many sectors took decades to fully recover.

New York played a major role during the Second World War as a financial and industrial centre and emerged after the war as one of the most economically powerful cities in the World. The growth of post-war suburbs, urban migration and a rising crime rate resulted in a population decline between 1970 and 1990, but efforts by the city's charismatic mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, to improve quality of life and reduce crime rates paid off and people have returned the city.

On September 11th, 2001, the city was the victim of terrorist attacks, when the World Trade Centre, the city's tallest building, was destroyed by impacts from hijacked passenger aircraft. Almost 3000 people lost their lives, including many emergency services personnel who were trapped in the wreckage of the falling buildings. A memorial is to be constructed on the site of the World Trade Centre and is scheduled to open on September 11th, 2009.

Update 20/11/2006

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