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History of New York State/Introduction

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The State of New York was the eleventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, thereby admitting itself to the union, on July 26, 1788. New York is located in northeastern United States and borders with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. New York is the third most populated state in America with over 19,570,261 citizens contained in a 49,170 square mile radius. The capital of New York is Albany, located in eastern New York.

History of New York[edit | edit source]

It is impossible to discuss the state of New York without mentioning several of its massive cities: Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, and, of course, New York City. New York was granted statehood in 1788; however, even before it officially became a state, New York played a major role in the formation of the United States. New York was originally occupied by multiple Native tribes, most notably the Iroquois who occupied a large section of New York. The Iroquois land was eventually claimed by the Dutch during Henry Hudson's explorations in 1609. This land would later become Albany, the capital of New York. In 1524, a European sailor named Giovanni da Verrazzano embarked on a voyage for North America in search of the Banks of Newfoundland. Instead, he discovered an area of land known today as New York harbour. For half a century, the Dutch occupied the land they called New Netherland. Eventually, New Netherland was bought by the Dutch from the natives and became a booming centre for peaceful trade with close Canadian borders and access to the Hudson and St. Lawrence River. Peace came to a halt in 1664 when the Duke of York showed interest in the area occupied by the Dutch and hatched a plan for warfare; however, this plan never came to fruition and in September of that year the Dutch surrendered its colony to the English. Following this, the British took control of the land and New York became one of the Thirteen Colonies. Albany controlled the majority of New York’s economy from the 1600s to the mid 19th century. In the 1600s New York was referred to as New Netherland, however once the land was under British jurisdiction it was promptly renamed New York in honour of the Duke of York. New Netherland was officially founded by Dutch settlers as a trading post named Fort Orange. Not long after, New Amsterdam was founded on Manhattan Island, along the Hudson River.

From 1700 onward, the colony of New York began to form its own system of government. It was run by governors who based their customs and laws on their English and Dutch heritage. At this point in time, New York had an aristocratic social structure and was dominated by landlords and farmers. Revolution plagued New York throughout the 1700s and caused a great deal of disturbance until 1777. In 1777, the Constitution of the State of New York was enacted. It was founded on the policy that the authority of government originates from the people. This act “affirmed the sovereignty of the people, the freedom of every citizen from any interference whatsoever except by authority of the people, and declared that the object of government was the safety and happiness of the people.” By 1861, New York State was fully engulfed in the American Civil War as part of the Union forces. The State of New York played a key role in the sponsorship of the war supplying 484,260 men of the Unions total 2,867,345 soldiers. This made it the highest contributor of soldiers, at almost 17% of the total army. New York State was firmly against slavery and was loudly recognized as one of the first pro labour union states. The American Revolution was fought throughout America between the American Colonies and the British. The war was fiercely fought in New York, where the battles of Lexington, Concord and Saratoga took place. The latter battle is recognized as the turning point of the war. The American forces were able to secure a victory against General John Burgoyne’s British Army over an eighteen-day battle spanning from September 19th to October 7th. This battle helped prevent the American colonies from becoming further colonized by the British, and played a key role in uniting the existing Thirteen Colonies.

During the early stages of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the British attempted to maintain control over New York City and the surrounding areas by assembling “the century’s largest fleet” of sailors and soldiers off the coast. This led to overwhelming victories by the British which forced the American troops under General George Washington to retreat and give up strategically valuable land. The Revolutionary War originated between the British and the Thirteen Colonies, which included New York by July 1776. Eventually, this war would expand to include Spain, France and the Netherlands. The Commander in Chief of the British forces declared his intentions to capture New York. Once it had been occupied, the Chief sent several men from his army in Philadelphia to fight two more battles against their rivals, which they lost. When the army retreated with Sir. Henry Clinton back to New York City, the war centered around Manhattan, Long Island, and Staten Island. Eventually, the Colonies would win the war and officially become an independent country. New York adopted its constitution in 1777, with George Clinton, who had acted as Chief executive throughout a large portion of the whole war, as the first Governor. In 1785, New York City was declared the capital of the newly free country, however it was continuously stripped and reappointed the title of ‘capital’ through the years until 1790, when Washington D.C. was officially recognized as the new territory that would hold the name of capital.

The Great Depression may not have hit New York the hardest of all states, but it was undoubtedly still devastating.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, New York State’s economy was booming, making way for the “roaring twenties”. However, the "roaring twenties" ended with one of the most famous events in the history of New York-- the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The Stock Market Crash was one of leading contributions of the Great Depression. It wouldn't be until the Second World War that the American economy would get a boost. World War II was a turbulent time for the entire world, but it also allowed the American economy to recover. Following the horrors of World War II, the people of New York looked ahead for more peaceful times. It was a bright place where young, starry-eyed entrepreneurs and actors could get ahead and make a name for themselves. This mindset continues today as New York is still seen as a place for people to live their dreams, whether in art, music, or business.

New York City was blind-sided on September 11th, 2001 when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, also known as the Twin Towers, devastating not only New York City, but the entire United States of America. The crashes resulted in the collapse of both towers and the spreading of debris on nearby houses, buildings and people. It was the first time that America had been majorly attacked on U.S soil since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In a coordinated attack instigated by terrorists from a group named al-Qaeda, four planes were hijacked and used as bombs to be flown directly into buildings, exploding on impact. The third plane was flown into the Pentagon. On the fourth plane, en route to the White House, a passenger overpowered the hijackers, and crashed the plane into a farmer’s field. There were numerous casualties from these horrendous acts of terror, not only from the plane crashes and towers collapsing, but also from the falling debris. This incident shocked the nation and resulted in an increase in anti-terrorist organizations, as well as national security. The tragedy of September 11th witnessed life losses of over 3,000 people and tested the strength of New York City, New York State, America as a whole and the world over.

Cultural New York[edit | edit source]

New York State has had an interesting cultural impact not only on the rest of the United States of America, but on the world. New York City alone has had a tremendous impact on the nations psyche, having an intense influence on Americas cultural heritage. It has been a breeding ground for American art movements and is the place where many new Americans first arrived via Ellis Island. Christopher Bigsby described New York’s changing immigrant population, noting that “in parts of Brooklyn, one immigrant group replaces another, a shifting spectrum of immigrant life”. This begins to describe the artistic soup from which American culture has been continually reformed. A large part of the reason New York has such a colourful history is due to the fact that it was the main hub for immigrants both old and young. Through the years, people have flocked to the United States for hundreds of reasons, but no other place in the United States has welcomed more newcomers than New York. New York easily took over as the financial head of the country, albeit slowly, over a few decades. Areas like Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls attracted big business as well as tourism, as there were huge tracts of land that were perfect for factories and power plants. It has become a hugely developed state and boasts an extensive and interesting history. By the 1900s, New York was “the richest and more populous state”. This ideal of being the most prosperous, business-friendly city in the world had an aesthetically-pleasing effect on the skyline of New York City. From the Woolworth Building, to the Chrysler Building, and eventually the World Trade Centers, New Yorkers boasted the tallest building(s) for nearly seventy-five years. Skyscrapers became a symbol of power and New York took advantage of this in constructing the Chrysler Building as well as the World Trades Centers. Into the twentieth century, New York was considered to be the cultural capital of the world. An explosion of creative energy allowed New York to dominate the cultural scene. New York City is known for many attractions including; Broadway, their Fashion District, the Statue of Liberty (a gift given by France on October 28, 1886), Adirondack Park (a publicly protected area of land established in 1892), Niagara Falls, Wall Street, the Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Central Park, the Yankees, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many more. New York City is commonly referred to as the "Big Apple". New York City covers three hundred square miles including many of the aforementioned landmarks. This all contributes to New York's culture. Agriculturally, New York State is best known for dairy products, vegetables, and fruits (especially apples and grapes). However New York’s largest industry is printing and publishing, with businesses related to publishing giving billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year.

NYC Empire State Building

Many pieces of media feature New York's landmarks. Frank Sinatra’s "New York, New York", borrowed from Liza Minnelli, and Jay Z’s "Empire State of Mind" both feature the city. Comic books were developed in the city, and many took place there. New York State has frequently been covered by literature, including Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's", and "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. Manhattan's Upper East Side is shown in the television show "Gossip Girl", capturing New York's exclusive and glamorous side. The architecture of New York played a large part in the "King Kong" films, in which the titular character, an ape, climbs the famous Empire State Building.

New York is where the jazz scene first appeared in America. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Benny Carter, and Louis Armstrong all work in the city, each having tremendous influence on American music. The Apollo Theatre, a distinct New York City landmark, was where some of America's most popular musicians regularly preformed. Tied into this was the rise of New York’s beat poets. Jack Kerouac’s "On The Road" was a significant work of this era, and referenced listening to Charlie Parker . This was emblematic of the environment New York provided to artists, in which movements and individuals would cross without boundary.

The Apollo Theatre

New York is central to understanding the development of many arts movements, especially ones associated with immigration and race. Literary mention of New York City goes back to Diedrich Knickerbocker’s "History of New York" in 1809 . Walt Whitman wrote "A Poem for New York", calling it a “city of hurried and sparkling waters”. African American literature has particularly thrived in the area. Sparked by the ‘great migration’ of African Americans from southern states to northern ones, the Harlem renaissance shook America, and provided grounds for the publication of important civil rights related works like Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man". It was in New York on September 17th, 1821 that a partially ex-slave production company put on "Richard III", a monumental achievement for the time. The state and the city would be a place of tremendous artistic creation throughout its history.

New York City possesses its own individual and captivating culture and is the backdrop to thousands of movies. Deemed “the city that never sleeps”, New York City is constantly active and is the most populated metropolitan area in the United States, as of 2010. New York has a significant influence on many industries, particularly the fashion, entertainment and finance industries. Because of its geographical location, high population, diversity and other factors, New York is a world leader in trade and commerce. New York City is broken up into five subdivisions: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. New York City is also home to the United Nations headquarters. A few examples of recent famous actors and actresses who were born in New York are Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Sylvester Stallone and Adam Sandler.

Statue of Liberty.

The words “empire, liberty, and constitution” have always been of significant value to the state of New York. Another aspect of New York City which has impacted American culture is it’s dense collection of recognizable landmarks. New immigrants to the United States coming through Ellis Island would see the Statue of Liberty, one of the defining images of New York. The statue was inaugurated on October 18th, 1886, and was a gift from France The statue would appear in American media often, including such films as "Cloverfield", "X-Men", and the Hitchcock classic "Saboteur". The Statue of Liberty is a world renowned symbol of America and is located on Liberty Island, Manhattan in New York State. The statue itself is a robed female who represents the Roman goddess of freedom. She is holding a torch that marks the date of July 4th 1776, the date of the American Declaration of Independence. Broken chains lie beneath her, representing the freedom and liberty that all Americans should feel. Moreover, the Statue of Liberty is there as a welcoming symbol to immigrants who are arriving from abroad.

The New York Yankees have been considered by many to be the “Mecca” of sports franchises worldwide due to the plethora of success and longevity the team has achieved for over a century. The Yankees have been an iconic figure in popular culture throughout New York and the world. The team has been referenced many times in TV shows, novels, magazines, movies and other media sources. TV shows such as “The Bronx is Burning” and movies such as "Bang the Drum Slowly", "Pride of the Yankees", "For the Love of the Game", and "Anger Management" have all had scenes in Yankee stadium expanding the impact the Yankees have had on popular culture. The Yankees have also been mentioned in the famous Sports Illustrated magazine 1672 times with 35 issues devoting the cover to the Yankees franchise. The Yankees have been an integral part of New York popular culture because of the location of the team and resources it has by being associated with one of the most iconic and wealthiest cities in the world. Many musicians, artists, actors, and athletes have been associated with the team and therefore expanding the culture of the Yankees worldwide to the point where the New York Yankees can be considered a global franchise. Celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Jay Z, and Adam Sandler have all been associated with the team to further expand the popular culture of the Yankees franchise. The Steinbrenner family under the corporate logo Yankee Global Enterprises owns the team today. The current team value of the Yankees is approximately 1.3 billion dollars and average revenue per season is 441 million, almost twice the amount of the second highest grossing team. The Yankees have succeeded in always having a near perfect attendance and regularly rank within the top echelon in attendance rankings year by year, fathering the impact the team has had on popular culture. The Yankees have also recently created their own entertainment network to improve on their integral impact on popular culture within in New York and the world. Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network was created in 2002 to broadcast Yankee games globally. The success of the network has been a significant factor to the expansion of the Yankees franchise in popular culture.

Yankee Stadium, the home of the New York Yankees is widely known throughout the world as an incomparable theatre in American sports. Not only have 27 championship banners been raised, but also events such as college, and professional football, boxing and hockey games, as well as concerts and visits from the pope all resided in Yankee stadium. The stadium serves as a calling card to all New Yorkers and people worldwide to meet and enjoy the multitude of culture America has to offer.