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Useful Notes: New York City
aka: New York

"That's incredible. Imagine seven million people all wanting to live together. Yeah, New York must be the friendliest place on Earth!"
Crocodile Dundee

"'New York City. Eight million people. Eight million stories.' There's three New York stories, alright? There's 'I moved here', 'I lived here all my life' and Ghostbusters."
Mike Lawrence

"New York, New York," the city so nice they named it twice. Officially, the City of New York, within the State of New York (although the greater metro area spills over into Connecticut, New Jersey (the oft-mentioned Tri-State area), and even a county in Pennsylvanianote ). AKA The Big Apple or The City That Never Sleeps.

The most populous city in the United States, one of the most populous in the world and home to a massive media industry, outclassed in the United States only by Hollywood.

Undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) cosmopolitan, ethnically diverse, and culturally influential cities in history.

The Five Boroughs

While the New York Metropolitan Area is a massive urban conurbation, the best known parts are the five boroughs (basically counties with no administrative power whatsoever) of New York City proper:
  • The Bronx (Bronx County): The birthplace of hip-hop, it's also home to a famous zoo and the New York Yankees baseball team, until recently the most successful sports franchise on Earthnote  and still arguably the most hated. Since The Sixties, it's been the borough most associated with urban deprivation (a longtime unofficial slogan was "only the strong survive"); though it's still the least affluent of the Five Boroughs, it's not nearly as much of a Wretched Hive as it once was. Fun piece of trivia: this is the only borough on the US mainland. Manhattan and Staten Island are their own islands, while Brooklyn and Queens are on the western end of Long Island.
  • Brooklyn (Kings County): The home of immigrants and, recently, trendy youngsters priced out of Manhattan. Historically, most sections are better known as working-class neighborhoods, though many neighborhoods, especially those close to the East River, are growing increasingly gentrified. It's sometimes called "The Bedroom of New York" because it is the most populous borough—being home to more than 2.5 million people—and while many of its people may work in Manhattan or elsewhere, Brooklyn is where they live and sleep. Fun trivia: before it merged with the rest of New York City in 1898, Brooklyn was its own city and the 3rd largest in the US, as measured in population. In fact, if each borough was considered a city unto itself, Brooklyn would still be the 3rd largest in the country, behind only Los Angeles and Chicago.
  • Manhattan (New York County): Geographically smallest but third most populated and most densely urbanized of the five boroughs; its population density (66,940 people per square mile) is higher than any other county in the US. The home of most of the city's most famous landmarks, including Times Square, Wall Street, Broadway, arguably the world's most iconic skyline, and more museums, theaters, and restaurants than you can shake a stick at. The hub of the world's financial engine, and the site of some of the most expensive real estate on the planet; the few remaining working-class and middle-class neighborhoods are largely clustered at the north and south ends of the island, respectively.

    Before 1874, this was all New York City was, and when you hear a local say "The City" (or an out-of-towner say "New York City"), they're referring to Manhattan. Even the U.S. Postal Service regards "New York, NY" as synonymous with the borough, and prefers that people who send letters to Manhattan addresses write "New York" as the destination instead of "Manhattan". Fun trivia: for all that it's thought of as "the Big City", Manhattan is a small sliver of land. At its widest it's just about 2.3 miles wide (and is less than a mile wide at some of its narrower points), and is about 13.4 miles long. Though it sure doesn't feel that way if you've ever been caught in gridlock...
  • Queens (Queens County): The home of the two NYC airports, La Guardia (named after the city's Depression-era mayor) and JFK, two World Fairs, underdog baseball team The Mets, the site of tennis's US Open, and lots and lots of graveyards (Manhattan hasn't had room for burials since the 1850s, so most New Yorkers who opt to be buried wind up resting in Queens). The second most populate borough, with a mix of working-class neighborhoods in the west and suburbia in the east. Fun trivia: it is the most ethnically and linguistically diverse area in the world, with native speakers of at least 140 different languages living within its 178 square miles. You can find a family-owned restaurant that represents virtually every ethnicity. It's home to nearly half the city's Asian population, and is also one of the few counties in the US where black people (who make up one in five residents) make more money on average than white people.
  • Staten Island (Richmond County): By far the least populated and most suburban borough, with three times fewer people than the next smallest, the Bronx. Home of what was formerly the world's largest landfill, where the World Trade Center debris was processed and with the very unfortunate name of Fresh Killsnote . Now it's being turned into a park, so Staten Island is home to nothing in particular aside from some small local museums and some of the last non-urbanized land remaining in New York City, note  including a working farm. Also referred as "the forgotten borough" (or, for locals of a certain age, "the bastard borough") since people and politicians alike don't really pay it much attention. Most non-New Yorkers will only know this place as the destination for the Ferry. As a result, there have been persistent calls for the island to secede from the city (and, in some proposals, join New Jersey); they actually voted "yes" on a non-binding referendum in 1993, but incoming mayor Rudy Giuliani was quick to address a lot of the concerns that motivated that referendum, leading the island to ultimately remain one of the Five Boroughs. It isn't connected to the other boroughs by subway at all, though there's a stub of unfinished underwater tunnel extending some distance off the coast of Brooklyn that would have served that purpose. It's just not a huge priority to either the islanders or the rest of the city. There is, however, a small above-ground commuter line that uses the same cars, the Staten Island Railroad, which runs from Tottenville at the southern tip of the island to St. George at the north, where passengers can board the ferry. The Staten Island Railroad is unique among the trains of New York City in that payment is only required upon boarding at St. George and going south- riding to and from any other stations on the line is free and unlimited.

    For most people living in Staten Island, the only "attraction" the island has is a large mall and the Yankees' minor league team (who have their own ballpark at St. George). Staten Island also has four bridges; three of them connecting to different parts of New Jersey and the 4th one, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connects to Brooklyn, and is the longest suspension bridge in America. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge also has the most expensive toll out of all the bridges and tunnels in New York City in the year 2011, being around $13(!), though you only pay going in. The bridge is also the starting point of New York City's yearly marathon race. The Richmondtown neighborhood contains a preserved colonial village, which many New York schoolkids wind up visiting at least once on a field trip, and the whole island competes with Manhattan's Washington Square for the title of "most reputably haunted place in New York State." There are plans in place to add a giant ferris wheel (reputedly bigger than the London Eye) to the harbor facing Manhattan.

Popular landmarks (and whether CSI NY has killed someone there)

  • The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. (Yes to both)
    • Every now and then someone claims that these are actually in Jersey City, New Jersey, because they're much closer to the west end of the bay. While decidedly a bit of federal park land, Liberty Island is fully in the city and county of New York, so yes, it's part of NYC (Manhattan, to be exact). Nearby Ellis Island, which housed the immigration processing station (now a museum), is, as decided in a Supreme Court case, partly in both, however. (The parts of the island that were created by landfill, mostly dirt and rock from the building of the Subway, are in NJ).
      • The case's rationale was that the laws and agreements respecting the two islands granted the land of the islands as they naturally are/were to New York, but the water and submerged land remained New Jersey territory. Therefore, while Liberty Island is in New York (because there's no landfill), it's entirely surrounded by New Jersey territorial waters and thus technically an exclave of NY in NJ (and thus of NYC in Jersey City).
  • The Empire State Building. (Yes.)
  • Rockefeller Center, Home of a large Christmas tree and where NBC is based
  • The Brooklyn Bridge. (Correct.)
  • The New York Subway. (Yep.)
  • The Chrysler Building. (Not yet!)
  • Grand Central Terminal, which is near the above
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), the Guggenhiem Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and the American Museum of Natural History.
  • Before September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were ones too; they are sometimes edited out of post-9/11 prints of old movies and TV shows.
  • Coney Island in southern Brooklyn, which contains a beach, the 'Cyclone' roller coaster (there used to be several large theme parks, but all but two have shut down), the New York Aquarium, and the original Nathan's Hot Dogs. Also, a popular hang-out for a local youth organization. (Nope.)
  • Central Park, a large park in the center of Manhattan.
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • New York Public Library
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Lincoln Center
  • Grants Tomb
  • Washington Square
  • Madison Square Garden, "The World's Most Famous Arena", and home of the NHL's Rangers, NBA's Knicks, and WNBA's Liberty. The current building is the fourth to carry the name, and it was built over the Penn Station railroad and subway stop (formerly an above-ground terminal, Penn Station is still the busiest rail station in the USnote ). MSG is actually a few blocks northwest of Madison Square Park, where the first two Gardens stood; the third Garden, open from 1925-1968, was several blocks further north. As of this writing, the city has shown signs it intends to show the current incarnation of MSG the door, only approving a 10-year extension of its license, with many locals calling for the arena to use that time to find an alternate location and thus allow the aging Penn Station to have an aboveground facility again.
  • Times Square. In the 1920s, the most popular theater district in the world, from the 1960s through the 1980s a center of pornography and crime, today a center of safe, friendly tourist attractions. Has always been full of neon signs and throngs of people. (Yes.)
  • Broadway. The street itself is an avenue that runs mostly north-south through the entire island of Manhattan, and up into the Bronx and beyond—one of the few to cut diagonally across the Manhattan grid. However, unless you're giving directions, "Broadway" means the stretch near Times Square that serves as the epicenter of live theater in America. "Broadway" has become so synonymous with big-scale theatrical productions that the terms "Broadway" and "Off-Broadway" are now used generically to refer to big and small-scale productions, respectively, no matter where the theater physically resides. (Not yet.)
  • The original, flagship stores for Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Ave, Barnes & Nobles, and other major chains.
  • The Bronx Zoo.

History

"Even old New York was once New Amsterdam..."
They Might Be Giants, "Istanbul (not Constantinople)"

The area now known as New York City was originally inhabited by the Lenape tribe of Native Americans. The first European contact was in 1524 by the Italian (how fitting) explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (whose name now graces, misspelled, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn), but credit for mapping the region goes to Henry Hudson, an Englishman working for the Dutch East India Company, in 1609. (The Hudson River would be named after him.) The Dutch established a trading post on the southern tip of Manhattan in 1613, and built Fort Amsterdam nearby in 1624 to protect their growing influence in the Hudson River valley. Within a year, a small town, known as Nieuw Amsterdam, began to grow around the trading post and the fort, and in 1626, the Dutch bought all of Manhattan and Staten Island from the natives in exchange for trade goods. As the beaver trade (the main reason for Dutch colonization) moved further north up the Hudson River, Nieuw Amsterdam became one of the main trading hubs of the East Coast of North America. The Dutch, viewing the Nieuw Nederland colony as more of a trading operation than a colonial enterprise, were unconcerned with its ethnic makeup, and thus allowed people of all ethnicities and religions to settle the growing city and turn it into a hub for immigration — something that it remains to this day.

Dutch rule over the Nieuw Nederland colony ended in 1664, when the British landed in present-day Brooklyn and captured Nieuw Amsterdam without a fight. They renamed both the city and the colony New York, after the king's brother James, Duke of York. The Dutch briefly regained control in 1673, but they were quickly thrown out. However, Dutch influence remains in the city to this day in the form of various place names, including Coney Island (Konijnen Eiland — Dutch for "Rabbit Island"), Brooklyn (Breukelen), Harlem (Nieuw Haarlem), Greenwich Village (Greenwijck), and Staten Island (Staaten Eylandt).

During the French and Indian War, New York was the main base of operations for the British in North America. During The American Revolution, New York was one of the most heavily Loyalist cities in the Thirteen Colonies — a situation that was exacerbated after the British occupied it and made it the center of their operations, which led to both Patriots fleeing the city and Loyalists fleeing into the city from Patriot-held areas. New York was the keystone for Britain's "Divide and Conquer" strategy, in which they tried to push north up the Hudson River in order to cut off New England from the rest of the Thirteen Colonies. It was also the site of the prison ships that the British used to house American prisoners of war, which were notorious for their squalid conditions — more Americans died on those ships than in battle.

Congress, which had been reduced to sharing time and space with the Maryland Legislature and even to meeting in taverns in New Jersey during and immediately after the war, elected to move to New York a few months after the 1784 ratification of the Treaty of Paris stabilized matters in the young country. The Congress continued to meet in New York's old city hall (now Federal Hall) even after the ratification of the new United States Constitution in 1789; George Washington was inaugurated for his first term as the first President on the balcony of Federal Hall on the 14th of April that year. Originally, New York was to remain in the role until such time as the federal capital stipulated in the new constitution could be built. However, Pennsylvania offered the federal government a very good deal if it moved back to Philadelphia; as a result, the role of temporary capital was transferred to Philly in 1790. This ended up biting the federal government in the ass: the Pennsylvania Legislature was constantly at pains to try to keep the capital in Philadelphia permanently (doing things like building a place to house Congress and buying a townhouse for the President) which proved to be a major annoyance to Congress and the Washington Administration.

Capital or no, the city grew into America's financial capital not long after, thanks to a combination of three factors: the Erie Canal allowing easy access to the Midwest, the economic policies of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury (and proud adoptive New Yorkernote ) and the city's massive natural harbor. By 1835, it would surpass Philadelphia to become America's largest city. New York was a favored destination for immigrants, particularly the Irish, who made up one-quarter of New York's population by 1850. During this time, services like police and schools were established to keep pace with the growing population, and the Tammany Hall political machine, led by the notorious William M. "Boss" Tweed, began its rise to power by courting immigrant voters. It would elect its first mayor, Fernando Wood, in 1855. During the Civil War, New York's trade links to the South, its large immigrant population, and Tammany Hall's association with the Democratic Party made it one of the most anti-war places in the North, which culminated in the Draft Riots of 1863. To avoid the ravages of war and stay neutral, Mayor Wood proposed having New York secede and become a neutral city-state called the City of Tri-Insula.

After the war, immigration increased further, and New York's status as the gateway to America was acknowledged with the construction of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. Tammany Hall took advantage of this immigration to consolidate its own power through the Gilded Age, becoming the codifier for corrupt political machines. It used its power to win the votes of the poor masses and muzzle opposition through a combination of handouts, cronyism, police oppression and The Mafia, letting the city fall into squalor and turn into a premier Wretched Hive as the city's tenements became increasingly packed. Social reformer Jacob Riis would document New York's poverty in his 1890 book How the Other Half Lives, which soon became one of the pioneering examples of photojournalism.

The year 1898 marked the beginning of the modern City of New York, with the consolidation of New York (then composed of Manhattan and the Bronx), the city of Brooklyn, and outlying areas in what is now Queens and Staten Island. This was a fiercely debated decision at the time which barely acquired a majority to vote for it, and to this day there are a few who refer to Brooklyn's decision to merge with the rest of New York as "The Great Mistake of '98". The cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon were also given a vote to join NYC and become the sixth and seventh boroughs, but this was rejected by voters. The New York City Subway would be established in 1904.

In the early 20th century, a number of factors helped to reduce immigration and relieve New York's overcrowding (and the associated problems with poverty and crime): the disruption of trade routes by World War I, the creation of new immigration restrictions, and The Great Depression eliminating the need for new labor. The development of municipal sewers and the replacement of horses with automobiles helped to clean up New York's filthy streets. Disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911 led to the establishment of building codes and workplace safety regulations, and spur on the growth of organized labor. As immigration from Europe dried up, African-Americans began taking up the slack, pouring into New York and other northern cities during what is known as the Great Migration. The neighborhood of Harlem became the center of African-American cultural life during The Roaring Twenties, in what is known as the Harlem Renaissance. The city's first skyscrapers also began going up during this era, giving New York its trademark Art Deco skyline.

The Great Depression started in New York with the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and the ensuing economic collapse led to the election of Fiorello La Guardia as mayor in 1933. A progressive social reformer and supporter of the New Deal, La Guardia is sometimes considered to be New York's greatest mayor. He abolished the corrupt "ward" system, broke the power of Tammany Hall (the organization stuck around In Name Only until 1968), heavily expanded the subways, brought down Lucky Luciano, and instituted massive public works projects to build bridges, parks, airports (including the one that now bears his name) and highways. Parts of his legacy, however, are rather controversial, particularly those related to his chief planner, Robert Moses (who served long after La Guardia's retirement). Moses' critics have accused him of destroying neighborhoods (particularly the South Bronx and Coney Island) and uprooting thousands through the construction of highways, causing the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants baseball teams for Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively, and facilitating the growth of the suburbia that now blankets Long Island. Supporters, meanwhile, claim that he had built valuable infrastructure that allowed New York to avoid the fate of many Rust Belt cities and thrive into the present day and beyond.

After World War II, with most of Europe in ruins, New York emerged to replace London as the world's premier financial center and Paris as the capital of the art world. The United Nations Headquarters was built in Manhattan along the East River, turning New York into a political center as well. Midtown Manhattan went through a huge construction boom fueled by post-war prosperity. However, not all was well. Starting in 1950, New York's population began dropping, thanks to the highways (many of them built by the aforementioned Robert Moses) running out into the growing suburbs (though Moses's plans to put through freeways through the heart of Manhattan never went through due to neighborhood protests and the slow decline of his power). In The Sixties, the city, under the inept mayorship of John Lindsay, experienced a series of strikes by transit workers, teachers and sanitation workers, a riot between college students and construction workers, and a blizzard that crippled the city. The rise of container shipping killed New York's ports, as the new Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey could handle the massive stacks of shipping containers that New York could not. Times Square became increasingly seedy, filled with porn theaters and other disreputable businesses, and came to symbolize the city's decline.

By The Seventies, the only good thing one could say about New York was that it wasn't as wretched a hive as nearby Newark was. The city nearly went bankrupt in 1975 before it was bailed out by a federal loan. The "Son of Sam" Serial Killer was on the loose, terrorizing the city. The middle classes started pouring out into the suburbs, feeling that the city was in an irreversible decline. The city's Darkest Hour — both figuratively and literally — came at 8:37 PM on July 13, 1977, when a lightning strike at an electrical substation in Westchester County, combined with gross negligence on the part of the Con Edison power company, caused the entire city to lose power for 25 hours — which meant no air conditioning in the middle of a brutal July Heat Wave. The result was an outbreak of looting, vandalism and arson that made national headlines (and gave birth to Hip Hop — all those DJs and MCs had to get their equipment from somewhere).

The Eighties were a bit better, but that isn't exactly saying much. Wall Street was booming, and unemployment was inching down, but crime was still out of control, racial tensions were running high, and homelessness was becoming an epidemic. This all came to a climax in 1990, when a record 2245 murders were recorded. The mayor during this time, Ed Koch, was far more conservative than many of his predecessors (he called himself a "liberal with sanity"), winning the endorsement of both the Democratic and Republican parties in 1981. He took a tough "law and order" stance in handling crime in the city, banning the playing of radios on the subways, and giving the police broader powers in dealing with homeless people, and he has since become famous for his hawkish pro-Israel views. He was also nationally famous for taking his love of New York to levels that many would consider extreme; he tried to block the creation of a second area code for the city on the grounds that he felt it would divide New Yorkers, and when the New York Giants won Super Bowl XXI in 1987 he refused to grant them a permit to hold their victory parade in the city, saying that they should parade "in front of the oil drums in Moonachie" on the grounds of their stadium being based in New Jersey. While highly popular both during and after his three terms as mayor, he was brought down by his harsh criticism of Jesse Jackson in the 1988 Democratic primaries (which alienated black voters) and a series of corruption scandals during his third term that undermined his "clean" image.

Of unique note was Koch's stance towards LGBT rights. While he was fairly progressive for the time, enacting a landmark anti-discrimination act, he's also a controversial figure among gay people for his perceived lack of response to the AIDS crisis, opposing needle exchange programs and mandatory AIDS education in schools. His biggest move to contain the epidemic was to shut down New York's gay bathhouses, only later extending the ban to heterosexual "swingers' clubs" (such as the famous Plato's Retreat) to avoid running afoul of the very law that he had enacted. It's long been speculated that Koch, a lifelong bachelor, was a closeted gay mannote , and that his softening of his pro-gay rights views was done in order to shore up concerns about his sexuality. The fact that he had to make several statements over the course of his career explicitly affirming his heterosexuality only added fuel to the rumors.

Things eventually got better. The economic boom of The Nineties was especially kind to New York thanks to its modern transportation and communications infrastructure, and crime dropped hard and fast. The man who is often credited for this, particularly the latter, is Mayor Rudolph "Rudy" Giuliani, a former prosecutor who became famous for his "tough on crime" attitude and for cleaning up Times Square, turning it into the tourist-friendly mecca of neon that it is today. Whether he deserves this credit... well, let's just say it's controversial. Supporters point to his implementation of the CompStat system to make the NYPD more efficient, as well as his embrace of the "broken windows" theorynote , while detractors point to the nationwide drop in crime during The Nineties, the fact that New York's drop in crime (as well as the cleanup of Times Square) had actually begun under Giuliani's predecessor, David Dinkins (New York's first and only black mayor), allegations of Police Brutality, and criticism of the "broken windows" theory. In any event, New York was prospering in a way not seen since the immediate post-war period.

And then came 9/11.

The destruction of the World Trade Center turned Giuliani into a national figure overnight, earning him a reputation as "America's Mayor."note  The city of New York, once thought of as a degenerate slum, likewise turned into a patriotic symbol. Perhaps the best illustration of how much things had improved would come in 2003, when the city was again blacked out in the middle of a summer heat wave (this time as part of a power outage that hit the entire Northeast). Partly due to the huge drop in crime, partly due to solidarity against what many immediately assumed was caused by terrorism, the looting and arson of the 70s were replaced by goodwill, particularly of "celebratory" block parties of ice cream and restaurant food that was going to spoil.

Giuliani's immediate successor, billionaire businessman and mayor Mike Bloomberg, continued to preside over an economic boom, and gentrification and real estate development quickly reached into neighborhoods that had been ghettoes just a few years before. Bloomberg wants his main legacy to be fixing New York's schools, and to accomplish this he abolished the bureaucracy of the Board of Education and took direct control over the school system. So far, he has been successful; high school graduation rates have skyrocketed during his mayorship, and clashes with teachers' unions were averted. The city's crime rate has also dropped to its 1960s levels. Bloomberg also became known outside the city for policies seen as nanny-state paternalism, including, among other things, his legislation banning trans fats and large sodas and reducing salt in city restaurants, calling on a ban on styrofoam, his presenting a bill to put cigarettes out of sight in stores, and the sting operations that he carried out in other states to catch people who were smuggling guns into the city.

In 2012, the city was hit by Hurricane Sandy, which caused severe damage in Staten Island as well as widespread power outages, flooding in the subways and gas shortages. Mayor Bill De Blasio was elected in 2013, promising to end the NYPD's controversial "Stop and Frisk" policy, leaving many residents fearing a return to the crime rates of the 1970s and 80s.

New York City in Fiction

Main article: Big Applesauce

Four separate pages on The Other Wiki for media listings, 6,797 results as a keyword on IMDB... it's fair to say that the city features a lot in fiction. Probably every reader here has at least one NY-set TV show on their regular watch-list or has had at some time.

Attempting to even prune these down to the "highly notable" department would still get you at least a hundred results.

The "other" New York

Main article: New York State

Note that New York State isn't called the "Empire State" for nothing — while the NYC suburbs within the state reach well up the Hudson River and nearly all the way down Long Island, the other 90% of the state (often known as "upstate") is culturally and geographically distinct from the city, and often resents the association. There have been several attempts to split the upstate off into the 51st state, and just as many attempts by downstaters (the city and its suburbs) to do likewise; such attempts usually flounder on who gets to keep the name "New York".

Oldnote  York

Don't even try to mention it here, yank! Why don't you go to some Other British Towns And Cities instead?

That Other North American York

We stopped calling it that in 1834, eh? We call it Toronto now. But some parts of town still have it in the name, and it works for the Big Apple if you're on a budget.
New OrleansUsefulNotes/The United StatesThe Big Rotten Apple
    Major World CitiesLondon
New OrleansImageSource/PhotographyParis

alternative title(s): New York; New York City; New York
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