Historica Wiki
NYC flag.png

New York City is the most populous city of the United States and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Located in the state of New York, New York City consists of five boroughs: Manhattan island, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island, and Staten Island. The city has a population of 8,550,405 people, with its population coming from all around the world and the city having influences from every culture. Its reputation as a "melting pot" has made it a popular destination for immigrants, with Ellis Island being an immigration center in the 1890s-1920s, and it has been the economic and cultural center of the United States since the 1900s.


Colonial era

Peter Minuit's purchase of Manhattan from the Lenape for $24 in 1624.

New York City was founded as "New Amsterdam" in 1624 by the United Provinces, having already been discovered one hundred years earlier as "New Angouleme" by Giovanni da Verrazzano and subsequently charted in expeditions by the Spanish and later by the English explorer Henry Hudson. Manhattan was purchased from the Lenape for $1,000, and the Dutch proceeded to colonize the region as a part of their colony of New Netherland. In 1664, England seized New York during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and it developed into a trading center under Great Britain in the early 18th century. Slaves were imported into New York to help in building the city and with agriculture, and in 1754 Columbia University was founded as "King's College". New York City grew into a large city on the island of Manhattan, with the other boroughs being separate towns. The city was simply called "York City" by many of its inhabitants, and it only consisted of Manhattan at the time. 

American Revolutionary War

New York City in the winter of 1776, after the fire.

During the 1760s and 1770s, New York became a center of new ideas and patriotism as the American Revolution began, with the Sons of Liberty being formed there after 1765 and the city becoming a center of the patriot cause in 1775. In 1776, 32,000 British and Hessian troops under William Howe arrived in New York Harbor and surrounded George Washington's patriot forces, defeating him at the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of Kip's Bay, and the Battle of White Plains, forcing the Americans to retreat from New York and eventually New Jersey as well. New York City would be the British Army's main stronghold in the Thirteen Colonies for the rest of the war, with the Continental Army leading a sort of siege against William Howe (and later Henry Clinton) and the British army there. New York Harbor was flooded with Royal Navy ships and reinforcements for the British and Hessians during the war, but American spies operated inside of New York, spying on the British; the Culper Ring was known for its espionage activities in New York. In 1783, the British evacuated New York after the 1783 Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the American Revolutionary War, and the city became the de facto capital of the independent United States, remaining the capital until the Compromise of 1790 set the capital at Washington DC.

Industrial Revolution

New York in 1840

New York City heavily developed during the Industrial Revolution, with the city expanding from Manhattan to Long Island, Staten Island, and The Bronx. Tenements were built to house low-income workers, and factories were constructed to mass-produce goods. The working class grew sharply in the city as industrialization increased, and poor neighborhoods such as the Five Points and The Bowery grew. In the mid-19th century, immigration to the city increased, beginning with Irish emigres fleeing the Great Famine in the 1840s. Later, Poles, African-Americans, Germans, and other groups began moving to New York, and farmers flocked to the city to become laborers as their land was lost to urbanization. In 1863, the New York draft riots broke out as poor immigrants and laborers protested against the draft during the American Civil War, resulting in the Union army being sent in to quell the violence. New York would be the largest provider of soldiers for the Union during the war, as its large population and industrial capabilities made it the most important state in the Union.

After the civil war's end, New York was repaired as millions of people immigrated to New York from all parts of the world, with millions of people coming from Ireland, Italy, the Russian Empire, and other European nations. Italians, Germans, Irish, Jews, and other communities established significant communities in the city, which became a multicultural center. Restaurants and stores from all cultures and countries of origin were established, and all sorts of people from many ethnic groups, religions, races, and cultures established their own communities, such as the Italians forming communities in Little Italy and Bensonhurst, Jews forming enclaves in the Lower East Side and Forest Hills, Russians settling in Brighton Beach, Hispanic immigrants forming communities in Washington Heights, Inwood, Corona, and The Bronx, Irish settling down in Astoria, Germans in Yorkville, African-Americans in Harlem, and Eastern Europeans in Brooklyn.


Immigrants coming to New York in 1887

In 1898, the city of Brooklyn, the County of New York (Manhattan and The Bronx), Richmond County, and Queens County were consolidated into the single city of New York City, which was divided into the five boroughs of Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. In the 1920s, New York was the location of the Harlem Renaissance as African-American art flourished in the neighborhood of Harlem, and in the early 1930s the city became the first megacity after its population hit the 10,000,000 mark. After World War II, US Army veterans returned to the city, which profited from the economic boom. New York became the leading city of the world, with Wall Street being the center of world trade and the United Nations Headquarters (completed in 1952) being the center of international relations. New York replaced Paris as the center of the art world as artists immigrated to New York City, with Broadway being the center of theater. On 28 June 1969, the Stonewall Riots signified some of the first gay rights protests in the United States, and the city was the home of the gay liberation movement.

Turn of the century

Times Square in the 1980s

New York City in 1992

In the 1970s, industrial reconstruction led to rising crime rates and poverty, and the Attica and Manhattan riots fuelled public anger against the government. In the 1980s, the economy recovered, but the crime rate continued to rise from the 1980s into the 1990s, with 1989 being the worst year in crime. At the same time, the HIV/AIDS epidemic struck millions of Americans, with the flood of crack cocaine, heroin, and other drugs, abuse of alcohol, unprotected and promiscuous sex, and other excessive activities leading to many people dying of the disease. In the 1990s, crime rates dropped due to gentrification, revised police strategies, more economic opportunities, and immigration, and the city developed into a large metropolitan center. The establishment of the PATH and subway lines, bus systems, railroad links, bridges such as the Verrazzano, Brooklyn, and George Washington bridges, the Brooklyn and Lincoln tunnels, and airports such as the John F. Kennedy International Airport improved travel between the boroughs. 

21st century

The 9/11 attacks

On 11 September 2001, New York witnessed disaster when American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were crashed into the World Trade Center by ten Middle Eastern terrorists affiliated with the al-Qaeda terrorist group. 2,192 civilians, 343 firefighters, and 71 law enforcement officers were killed in the attacks, and the site of the attacks became the famous "Ground Zero" before becoming the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The attacks united Americans, with northerners and southerners standing together against terrorism, and New York's people became brothers and sisters. After the attacks, police presence in New York increased, with Rudy Giuliani using police to crush all crime in the city. Extortionist "window cleaners" at the Lincoln Tunnel were previously known to ask for money to clean windows; if they were not paid, they would destoy the windows; Giuliani got rid of them. The drug trade was also decimated, and crime rates went down under him. New York City once again emerged as a world city, and immigrants continued to flood into New York City as migrant workers sought more opportunities in America.

Economic and political crises

A group of armed NYPD officers on 21 May 2016 in Hell's Kitchen

In 2008, the economy crashed due to the greed of Wall Street corporations and real estate companies, as they sold empty stocks and attempted to collect as much money as they could before the economy plummeted. The Great Recession struck countries all over the world due to corporate greed, and unemployment rose. 

By 2016 the unemployment rate had dropped, but the crisis had long-lasting effects on the minds of the American people. In 2016, New York businessman Donald Trump ran for President with the US Republican Party, with his hateful, anti-establishment, and racist views attracting angry Americans to his side, as he was known to speak his mind to excess and have no reservations. Trump wanted to reduce taxes, pretending to champion workers' rights in his campaign.

Another New Yorker, the Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders, ran for President for the US Democratic Party, and Sanders gained popularity among the working classes and the middle class, as he was dedicated to ending the dominance of the one percent and the corruption of Wall Street. His plan to increase taxes alienated the wealthy and the anti-government interference crowds, but he championed democratic socialism in America, while Trump's neo-fascism earned him the scorn of several intelligent American personalities and other countries. His views were reinforced by a fear of Muslims, as New York had seen the 9/11 attacks of 2001, an attempted car bombing in Times Square in 2011, and a 2014 hatchet attack against New York Police Department officers reinforced fears of a terrorist attack occurring in America, especially after the November 2015 Paris attacks by the Islamic State.