Read about New York City's history and its rich life today.
©Jupiter Images, 2009 The New York City skyline at dusk.
In 1592, the explorer Verrazano first caught a glimpse of New York Harbor. Since that time, New York has evolved into a fascinating place with a rich history. Take a look at some interesting facts about New York:
- In 1609, Henry Hudson claimed New York for the Dutch people. The colony was originally known as New Netherland, and New York City was called New Amsterdam. The city and state were both later renamed in honor of the British Duke of York, but New York's Dutch heritage can still be found in town names, including Brooklyn, Kinderhook and Block Island.
- The New York borough known as the Bronx began as a 500-acre plot of land purchased in 1639 by Jonas Bronck. The river that flowed through the land became known as the Bronx River, and eventually, the land itself came to be referred to as the Bronx.
- New York City was the first capital of the United States. President George Washington was inaugurated there on April 30, 1789. A year later, the capital moved to Philadelphia.
- Four U.S. presidents have hailed from the great state of New York: Martin Van Buren of Kinderhook, Millard Fillmore of Summerville, Theodore Roosevelt of New York City and Franklin Roosevelt of Hyde Park.
- The Statue of Liberty has a 35-foot waistline and weighs 450,000 pounds.
- New York City is sometimes referred to as "Gotham." Gotham was the name of an English city whose residents gained a reputation for being crazy -- or for skillfully pretending to be crazy -- to trick others into helping them achieve their goals. The term was first used in reference to New York City by early 19th century writer Washington Irving.
- Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected New York directly with the Great Lakes and helped make New York a leader in trade. The modern New York canal system contains 524 miles of waterways.
- New York established the first state park in the country at Niagara Falls in 1885.
- In 1901, New York became the first state to require license plates on automobiles. The fee to get a license plate at that time was $1.
- New York's state muffin is the apple muffin. Some other New York symbols include the apple (state fruit), ladybug (state insect), garnet (state gem), eurypterus (state fossil), sugar maple (state tree), lilac (state bush) and milk (state beverage).
- As of 2008, New York State, with 19.3 million people, is ranked third in population in the United States; New York City, however, is the biggest city in the country, with a population of about 8 million.
- New York shares a border with five other states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
- New York's Finger Lakes area is the largest wine-producing region in the country, outside of California. In addition, the Finger Lakes town of Naples sells an estimated 70,000 grape pies per year.
- On a clear day, the Empire State Building offers 80 miles of visibility, which encompasses parts of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
With its mountainous natural beauty, diverse urban culture and fascinating history, New York truly has something for everyone. To learn more about New York, visit the state's official Web site.
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