New York. Information

Founded: 1613; Incorporated: 1898
Location: Southeastern New York on the Atlantic coast, United States, North America
Time Zone: 7 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 63.9%; Black, 28.7%; Asian/Pacific Islander, 7%
Elevation: 15–244 m (50–800 ft) above sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 40°45’N, 73°59’W
Coastline: 1,942 km (750 mi)
Climate: Continental climate moderated by the Atlantic Ocean, with hot summers, cold winters, mild springs, and crisp autumns
Annual Mean Temperature: 12.2°C (54.0°F); January 0.1°C (32.2°F); July 24.8°C (76.6°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall : 737 mm (29 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 1016 mm (40 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 212, 718
Postal Codes: 10001–99; 10101–99; 10201–82

New York is a state in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. New York is the 27th-most extensive, the fourth-most populous, and the seventh-most densely populated of the 50 United States. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east. The state has a maritime border with Rhode Island east of Long Island, as well as aninternational border with the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the north and Ontario to the west and north. The state of New York is often referred to as New York State or the State of New York to distinguish it fromNew York City, the state’s most populous city and its economic hub.

With a Census-estimated population of nearly 8.5 million in 2014,  New York City is the most populous city in the United States. The city is the nucleus of the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States —the New York City Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world.  New York City is also known for being the location of Ellis Island, the largest historical gateway forimmigration in the history of the United States. A global power city,  New York City exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The home of the United Nations Headquarters,  New York City is an important center for international diplomacy  and has been described as the cultural and financial capital of the world,  as well as the world’s most economically powerful city.  New York City alone makes up over 40 percent of the population of New York State. Two-thirds of the state’s population live in the New York City Metropolitan Area, and nearly 40% live on Long Island.  Both the state and New York City were named for the 17th century Duke of York, future King James II of England. The next four most populous cities in the state are Buffalo, Rochester,Yonkers, and Syracuse, while the state capital is Albany.

The earliest Europeans in New York were French colonists and Jesuit missionaries who arrived southward from settlements at Montreal for trade and proselytizing. New York had been inhabited by various tribes ofAlgonquian and Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans for several hundred years by the time Dutch settlers moved into the region in the early 17th century. In 1609, the region was first claimed by Henry Hudson for the Dutch, who built Fort Nassau in 1614 at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, where the present-day capital of Albany later developed. The Dutch soon also settled New Amsterdam and parts of the Hudson River Valley, establishing the colony of New Netherland based on trade and profitmaking. It was a multicultural community from the earliest days and the center of trade and immigration. The British annexed the colony from the Dutch in 1664. The borders of the British colony, the Province of New York, were quite similar to those of the present-day state.

The first native New Yorkers were the Lenape, an Algonquin people who hunted, fished and farmed in the area between the Delaware and Hudson rivers. Europeans began to explore the region at the beginning of the 16th century–among the first was Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian who sailed up and down the Atlantic coast in search of a route to Asia–but none settled there until 1624. That year, the Dutch West India Company sent some 30 families to live and work in a tiny settlement on “Nutten Island” (today’s Governors Island) that they called New Amsterdam. In 1626, the settlement’s governor general, Peter Minuit, purchased the much larger Manhattan Island from the natives for 60 guilders in trade goods such as tools, farming equipment, cloth and wampum (shell beads). Fewer than 300 people lived in New Amsterdam when the settlement moved to Manhattan. But it grew quickly, and in 1760 the city (now called New York City; population 18,000) surpassed Boston to become the second-largest city in the American colonies. Fifty years later, with a population 202,589, it became the largest city in the Western hemisphere. Today, more than 8 million people live in the city’s five boroughs.


In 1664, the British seized New Amsterdam from the Dutch and gave it a new name: New York City. For the next century, the population of New York City grew larger and more diverse: It included immigrants from the Netherlands, England, France and Germany; indentured servants; and African slaves.

During the 1760s and 1770s, the city was a center of anti-British activity–for instance, after the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, New Yorkers closed their businesses in protest and burned the royal governor in effigy. However, the city was also strategically important, and the British tried to seize it almost as soon as the Revolutionary War began. In August 1776, despite the best efforts of George Washington’s Continental Army in Brooklyn and Harlem Heights, New York City fell to the British. It served as a British military base until 1783.


The city recovered quickly from the war, and by 1810 it was one of the nation’s most important ports. It played a particularly significant role in the cotton economy: Southern planters sent their crop to the East River docks, where it was shipped to the mills of Manchester and other English industrial cities. Then, textile manufacturers shipped their finished goods back to New York.

But there was no easy way to carry goods back and forth from the growing agricultural hinterlands to the north and west until 1817, when work began on a 363-mile canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. The Erie Canal was completed in 1825. At last, New York City was the trading capital of the nation.

As the city grew, it made other infrastructural improvements. In 1811, the “Commissioner’s Plan” established an orderly grid of streets and avenues for the undeveloped parts of Manhattan north of Houston Street. In 1837, construction began on the Croton Aqueduct, which provided clean water for the city’s growing population. Eight years after that, the city established its first municipal agency: the New York City Police Department.

Meanwhile, increasing number of immigrants, first from Germany and Ireland during the 1840s and 50s and then from Southern and Eastern Europe, changed the face of the city. They settled in distinct ethnic neighborhoods, started businesses, joined trade unions and political organizations and built churches and social clubs. For example, the predominantly Irish-American Democratic club known as Tammany Hall became the city’s most powerful political machine by trading favors such as jobs, services and other kinds of aid for votes.

At the turn of the 20th century, New York City became the city we know today. In 1895, residents of Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn–all independent cities at that time–voted to “consolidate” with Manhattan to form a five-borough “Greater New York.” As a result, on December 31, 1897, New York City had an area of 60 square miles and a population of a little more than 2 million people; on January 1, 1898, when the consolidation plan took effect, New York City had an area of 360 square miles and a population of about 3,350,000 people.

The 20th century was an era of great struggle for American cities, and New York was no exception. The construction of interstate highways and suburbs afterWorld War II encouraged affluent people to leave the city, which combined with deindustrialization and other economic changes to lower the tax base and diminish public services. This, in turn, led to more out-migration and “white flight.” However, the Hart-Cellar Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 made it possible for immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America to come to the United States. Many of these newcomers settled in New York City, revitalizing many neighborhoods.

On September 11, 2001, New York City suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States when a group of terrorists crashed two hijacked jets into the city’s tallest buildings: the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The buildings were destroyed and nearly 3,000 people were killed. In the wake of the disaster, the city remained a major financial capital and tourist magnet, with over 40 million tourists visiting the city each year.

Today, more than 8 million New Yorkers live in the five boroughs–more than one-third of whom were born outside the United States. Thanks to the city’s diversity and vibrant intellectual life, it remains the cultural capital of the United States.



The geography of New York State varies widely. While the state is best known for New York City’s urban atmosphere, especially Manhattan’s skyscrapers, most of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. New York’s Adirondack Park is larger than any U.S. National Park in the contiguous United States.  Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is a popular attraction. The Hudson River begins near Lake Tear of the Clouds and flows south through the eastern part of the state without draining lakes George or Champlain. Lake George empties at its north end into Lake Champlain, whose northern end extends into Canada, where it drains into the Richelieu River and then the St. Lawrence. Four of New York City’s five boroughs are on the three islands at the mouth of the Hudson River:Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island.

“Upstate” is a common term for New York counties north of suburban Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties. Upstate New York typically includes Lake George and Oneida Lake in the northeast; and rivers such as the Delaware, Genesee, Mohawk, and Susquehanna. The highest elevation in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.

Location and size

New York is located in the northeastern United States, in the Mid-Atlantic Census Bureau division. New York covers an area of 54,556 square miles (141,299 km²) and ranks as the 27th largest state by size.  The state borders sixU.S. states: Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the south, and Connecticut, Rhode Island (across Long Island Sound), Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east. New York also borders the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec to the north. Additionally, New York touches the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and two of the Great Lakes: Lake Erie to the west and Lake Ontario to the northwest.


New York lies upon the portion of the Appalachian Mountains where the mountains generally assume the character of hills and finally sink to a level of the lowlands that surround the great depression filled by Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Three distinct mountain masses can be identified in the state. The most easterly of these ranges—a continuation of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia—enters the state from New Jersey and extends northeast through Rockland and Orange counties to theHudson River, continuing on the east side of that river as the highlands of Putnam and Dutchess counties. A northerly extension of the same range passes into the Green Mountains of western Massachusetts and Vermont. This range is known in New York as the Hudson Highlands. The highest peaks are 1,000 to 1,700 feet (300 to 520 m) above sea level. The rocks that compose these mountains are principally primitive or igneous, and the mountains themselves are rough, rocky, precipitous, and unfit for cultivation.

The second series of mountains enters the state from Pennsylvania and extends northeast through Sullivan, Ulster, and Greene counties, terminating and culminating in the Catskill Mountains west of the Hudson. The highest peaks are 3,000 to 3,800 feet (910 to 1,160 m) above sea level. The Shawangunk Mountains, a high and continuous ridge extending between Sullivan and Orange counties and into the southern part of Ulster County, is the extreme eastern range of this series. The Helderberg and Hellibark Mountains are spurs extending north from the main range into Albany and Schoharie counties. This whole mountain system is principally composed of rocks of the New York system above the Medina sandstone. The summits are generally crowned with red sandstone and with the conglomerate of the coal measures. The declivities are steep and rocky, and a large share of the surface is too rough for cultivation.

The second series of mountains enters the state from Pennsylvania and extends northeast through Sullivan, Ulster, and Greene counties, terminating and culminating in the Catskill Mountains west of the Hudson. The highest peaks are 3,000 to 3,800 feet (910 to 1,160 m) above sea level. The Shawangunk Mountains, a high and continuous ridge extending between Sullivan and Orange counties and into the southern part of Ulster County, is the extreme eastern range of this series. The Helderberg and Hellibark Mountains are spurs extending north from the main range into Albany and Schoharie counties. This whole mountain system is principally composed of rocks of the New York system above the Medina sandstone. The summits are generally crowned with red sandstone and with the conglomerate of the coal measures. The declivities are steep and rocky, and a large share of the surface is too rough for cultivation.

The third mountainous region, occupying the northeast part of the state, is known as the Adirondack Mountains. The region is bounded to the south by theMohawk River, south of which the highlands become part of the Allegheny Plateau, in the form of broad, irregular hills, broken by the deep ravines of streams. The valley of the Mohawk separates the Allegheny Plateau to the south from the highlands leading to the Adirondacks to the north, reaching its narrowest point in the neighborhood of Little Falls, the Noses, and other places. North of the Mohawk the highlands extend northeast in several distinct ranges, all terminating upon Lake Champlain. The culminating point of the whole system, and the highest mountain in the state, is Mount Marcy, standing 5,467 feet (1,666 m) above sea level. The rocks of all this region are principally of igneous origin, and the mountains are usually wild, rugged, and rocky. A large share of the surface is entirely unfit for cultivation, but the region is rich in minerals, and especially in an excellent variety of iron ore.

In western New York, a series of hills forming spurs of the Allegheny Mountains enter the state from Pennsylvania and occupy the entire southern half of the west part of the state. An irregular line extending through the southerly counties forms the watershed that separates the northern and southern drainage; and from it the surface gradually declines northward until it finally terminates in the level of Lake Ontario. The portion of the state lying south of this watershed and occupying the greater part of the two southerly tiers of counties is entirely occupied by these hills. Along the Pennsylvania line they are usually abrupt and are separated by narrow ravines, but toward the north their summits become broader and less broken. A considerable portion of the highland region is too steep for profitable cultivation and is best adapted to grazing. The highest summits in Allegany andCattaraugus counties are 2,000 to 2,500 feet (610 to 760 m) above sea level.

From the summits of the watershed, the highlands usually descend toward Lake Ontario in a series of terraces, the edges of which are outcrops of different rocks beneath the surface. These terraces are usually smooth, and, although inclined toward the north, the inclination is generally so slight that they appear level. Between the hills of the south and the level land of the north is a beautiful rolling region, the ridges gradually declining toward the north. In that part of the state, south of the most eastern mountain range, the surface is generally level or broken by low hills. InManhattan and Westchester County, these hills are principally composed of primitive rocks. The surface of Long Island is generally level or gently undulating. A ridge 150 to 200 feet (46 to 61 m) high, composed of sand, gravel, and clay, extends east and west across the island north of its center.

Rivers and Lakes

The river system of the state has two general divisions. The first is the streams tributary to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The second are those tributaries that flow in a general southerly direction. The watershed divide that separates these two systems extends in an irregular line eastward from Lake Erie, through the southern tier of counties to near the northeast corner ofChemung County. It then turns northeast to the Adirondack Mountains in Essex County, then southeast to the east extremity of Lake George, and then nearly due east to the east border of the state.

The northerly division has five general subdivisions. The most westerly of these comprises all the streams flowing into Lake Erie and the Niagara River and those flowing into Lake Ontario west of the Genesee River. In Chautauqua County, the streams are short and rapid, as the watershed approaches within a few miles of Lake Erie. Cattaraugus, Buffalo, Tonawanda, and Oak Orchardcreeks are the most important streams in this division. Buffalo Creek is chiefly noted for forming Buffalo Harbor at its mouth; and the Tonawanda for 12 miles (19 km) from its mouth was once used for canal navigation. Oak Orchard and other creeks flowing into Lake Ontario descend from the interior in a series of rapids, affording a large amount of waterpower.

Tho second subdivision comprises the Genesee River and its tributaries. The Genesee rises in the northern part of Pennsylvania and flows in a generally northerly direction to Lake Ontario. Its upper course is through a narrow valley bordered by steep, rocky hills. Upon the line of Wyoming and Livingston counties, it breaks through a mountain barrier in a deep gorge and forms the Portage Falls. Below this point the course of the river is through a valley 1 to 2 miles (1.6 to 3.2 km) wide and bordered by banks 50 to 150 feet (15 to 46 m) high. At Rochester it flows over the precipitous edges of the Niagara limestone, forming the Upper Genesee Falls; and 3 miles (4.8 km) below it flows over the edge of the Medina sandstone, forming the Lower Genesee Falls. The principal tributaries of this stream are Canaseraga, Honeoye, and Conesus creeks from the south, and Oatka and Black creeks from the west. Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock, and Conesus lakes—four of the Finger Lakes—lie within the Genesee Basin.  The third subdivision includes the Oswego River and its tributaries, and the small streams flowing into Lake Ontario between the Genesee and Oswego rivers. The basin of the Oswego includes most of the inland lakes, which form a peculiar feature of the landscape in the interior of the state. The principal of these lakes are Cayuga, Seneca,Canandaigua, Skaneateles, Crooked, and Owasco lakes, all occupying long, narrow valleys, and extending from the level land in the center far into the highland region of the south (many of those lakes just mentioned are also part of the Finger Lakes). The valleys they occupy appear like immense ravines formed by some tremendous force that tore the solid rocks from their original beds, from the general level of the surrounding summits, down to the present bottoms of the lakes. Oneida and Onondaga lakes occupy level land in the northeast part of the Oswego Basin. Mud Creek, the most westerly branch of the Oswego River, takes its rise in Ontario County, flows northeast into Wayne County, where it unites with Canandaigua Outlet and takes the name of Clyde River; then it flows east to the west line of Cayuga County, where it empties into the Seneca River. This latter stream, made up of the outlets of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, from this point flows in a northeasterly course, and receives successively the outlets of Owasco, Skaneateles, Onondaga, and Oneida lakes. From the mouth of the last-named stream it takes the name Oswego River, and its course is nearly due north to Lake Ontario.

The fourth subdivision includes the streams flowing into Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River east of the mouth of the Oswego. The principal of these are the Salmon, Black, Oswegatchie, Grasse, andRaquette rivers. The water is usually very dark, being colored with iron and the vegetation of swamps.

The fifth subdivision includes all the streams flowing into Lakes George and Champlain. They are mostly mountain torrents, frequently interrupted by cascades. The principal streams are the Chazy, Saranac, and Ausable rivers, and Wood Creek. Deep strata ofTertiary clay extend along the shores of Lake Champlain and Wood Creek. The water of most of the streams in this region is colored by the iron over which it flows.

The second general division of the river system of the state includes the basins of the Allegheny, Susquehanna, Delaware, and Hudson. The Allegheny Basin embraces the southerly half of Chautauqua and Cattarauguscounties and the southwest corner of Allegany County. The Allegheny River enters the state from the south in the southeast corner of Cattaraugus County, flows in nearly a semicircle, with its outward curve toward the north, and flows out of the state in the southwest part of the same county. It receives several tributaries from the north and east. These streams mostly flow in deep ravines bordered by steep, rocky hillsides. The watershed between this basin and Lake Erie approaches within a few miles of the lake, and is elevated 800 to 1,000 feet (240 to 300 m) above it.

The Susquehanna Basin occupies about one-third of the south border of the state. The river takes its rise in Otsego Lake, and, flowing southwest to the Pennsylvania line, receives Charlotte River from the south and the Unadilla River from the north. After a course of a few miles in Pennsylvania, it again enters New York and flows in a general westerly direction to near the western border of Tioga County, whence it turns south and again enters Pennsylvania. Its principal tributary from the north is the Chenango River. The Tioga River enters New York from Pennsylvania near the eastern border of Steuben County, flows north, receives the Canisteo River from the west and the Cohocton River from the north. From the mouth of the latter, the stream takes the name Chemung River, and flows in a southeast direction, into the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, a few miles south of the state line. The upper course of these streams is generally through deep ravines bordered by steep hillsides, but below they are bordered by wide intervales.

The Delaware Basin occupies Delaware and Sullivan counties and portions of several of the adjacent counties. The north or principal branch of the river rises in the northeast part of Delaware County and flows southwest to near the Pennsylvania line; then it turns southwest and forms the boundary of the state to the line of New Jersey. Its principal branches are thePepacton and Neversink rivers. These streams all flow in deep, narrow ravines bordered by steep, rocky hills.

The basin of the Hudson occupies about two-thirds of the east border of the state, and a large territory extending into the interior. The remote sources of the Hudson are among the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, more than 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above sea level. Several of the little lakes that form reservoirs of the Upper Hudson are 2,500 to 3,000 feet (760 to 910 m) above sea level. The stream rapidly descends through the narrow defiles into Warren County, where it receives from the east the outlet of Schroon Lake, and the Sacandaga River from the west. Below the mouth of the latter the river turns eastward, and breaks through the barrier of the Luzerne Mountains in a series of rapids and falls. At Fort Edward it again turns south and flows with a rapid current, frequently interrupted by falls, to Troy, 160 miles (260 km) from the ocean. At this place the river falls into an estuary, where its current is affected by the tide; and from this place to its mouth it is a broad, deep, sluggish stream. About 60 miles (97 km) from its mouth the Hudson breaks through the rocky barrier of thehighlands, forming the most easterly of the Appalachian Mountain ranges; and along its lower course it is bordered on the west by a nearly perpendicular wall of basaltic rock 300 to 500 feet (91 to 152 m) high, known as The Palisades. Above Troy, the Hudson receives the Hoosic River from the east and the Mohawk River from the west. The former stream rises in western Massachusetts and Vermont, and the latter near the center of New York.

At Little Falls and The Noses, the Mohawk breaks through mountain barriers in a deep, rocky ravine; and at Cohoes, about 1 mile (1.6 km) from its mouth, it flows down a perpendicular precipice of 70 feet (21 m). Below Troy the tributaries of the Hudson are all comparatively small streams. South of the highlands the river spreads out into a wide expanse known asHaverstraw Bay. A few small streams upon the extreme eastern border of the state flow eastward into the Housatonic River, and several small branches of the Passaic River rise in the southern part of Rockland County.

Lake Erie forms a portion of the western boundary of the state. It is 240 miles (390 km) long, with an average width of 38 miles (61 km), and it lies mostly west of the bounds of the state. It is 334 feet (102 m) above Lake Ontario, 565 feet (172 m) above sea level, and has an average depth of 120 feet (37 m). The greatest depth ever obtained by soundings is 270 feet (82 m). The harbors upon the lake are Buffalo, Silver Creek, Dunkirk, and Barcelona.

The Niagara River, forming the outlet of Lake Erie, is 34 miles (55 km) long, and, on average, more than a mile wide. About 20 miles (32 km) below Lake Erie the rapids commence; and 2 miles (3.2 km) further below are Niagara Falls. For 7 miles (11 km) below the falls the river has a rapid course between perpendicular, rocky banks, 200 to 300 feet (61 to 91 m) high, but below it emerges from the highlands and flows 7 miles (11 km) to Lake Ontario in a broad, deep, and majestic current.

Lake Ontario forms a part of the northern boundary to the western half of the state. Its greatest length is 130 miles (210 km) and its greatest width is 55 miles (89 km). It is 232 feet (71 m) above sea level, and its greatest depth is 600 feet (180 m). Its principal harbors on the American shore are Lewiston, Youngstown, Port Genesee, Sodus and Little Sodus bays, Oswego,Sackets Harbor, and Cape Vincent. The St. Lawrence River forms the outlet of the lake and the northern boundary of the state to the east line of St. Lawrence County. It is a broad, deep river, flowing with a strong yet sluggish current until it passes the limits of this state. In the upper part of its course it encloses a great number of small islands, known as the Thousand Islands.

The surfaces of the Great Lakes are subject to variations of level, probably due to prevailing winds, unequal amounts of rain, and evaporation. The greatest difference known in Lake Erie is 7 feet (2.1 m), and in Lake Ontario 4 feet (1.2 m). The time of these variations is irregular, and the interval between the extremes often extends through several years. A sudden rise and fall of several feet has been noticed upon Lake Ontario at rare intervals, produced by some unknown cause.

State parks

New York has many state parks and two major forest preserves. The Adirondack Park, roughly the size of the state of Vermont and the largest state park in the United States, was established in 1892 and given state constitutional protection in 1894. The thinking that led to the creation of the park first appeared in George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature, published in 1864. Marsh argued that deforestation could lead to desertification; referring to the clearing of once-lush lands surrounding the Mediterranean, he asserted “the operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon.”

The Catskill Park was protected in legislation passed in 1885, which declared that its land was to be conserved and never put up for sale or lease. Consisting of 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) of land, the park is a habitat forbobcats, minks and fishers. There are some 400 black bears living in the region. The state operates numerous campgrounds, and there are over 300 miles (480 km) of multi-use trails in the park.

Climate of New York

The Climate of New York state is generally humid continental, and features significant variation over the years. Winter temperatures average below freezing during January and February but near freezing along the Atlantic coastline, while summer like conditions prevail from June to August statewide. Cold air damming east of the Appalachians leads to protracted periods of cloud cover and precipitation east of the range, primarily between the October and April months. On average, western New York is cloudier than southeast New York, much of it generated from the Great Lakes. Greenhouse gas emission is low on a per capita basis when compared to most other states due to the extensive use of mass transit, particularly across New York City. The significant urbanization within New York City has led to an urban heat island, which causes temperatures to be warmer overnight in all seasons.

Precipitation-wise, extratropical cyclones bring much of the precipitation to the region from fall through spring. Significant Lake-effect snows fall downwind of Lake Ontario and well as the Finger Lakes region of New York. Large, long-lived complexes of thunderstorms can invade the state from Canada and the Great Lakes during the summer, while tropical cyclones can bring rains and winds from the southwest during the summer and fall. Hurricane impacts on the state occur once every 18–19 years, with major hurricane impacts every 7 years. An average of ten tornadoes touch down in New York annually.


The annual average temperature across the state ranges from around 39 °F (4 °C) over the Adirondack Mountains to near 53 °F (12 °C) across Long Island.  New York generally has a humid continental climate (Koppen Dfain some central and southern lowlands and the Hudson Valley south of Albany and in some isolated pockets of Western New York, but otherwise Dfb over the rest of the upstate). Weather in New York is heavily influenced by two continental air masses: a warm, humid one from the southwest and a cold, dry one from the northwest.

A cool, humid airflow from the North Atlantic has a noticeable effect on weather in the state. When a cool high-pressure area wedges in east of the Appalachians, a cold air damming situation develops which causes a persistent cloud deck with associated precipitation which linger across the region for prolonged periods of time. Temperature differences between the warmer coast and inland sections east of the terrain can exceed 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), with rain near the coast and frozen precipitation, such as sleet and freezing rain, falling inland. Two-thirds of such events occur between October and April, with summer events preceded by the passage of a backdoor cold front,  which moves from northeast to southwest.

Unlike the vast majority of the state, New York City features a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa). New York City is an urban heat island, with temperatures 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit (3-4 degrees Celsius) warmer overnight than surrounding areas. In an effort to fight this warming, roofs of buildings are being painted white across the city in an effort to increase the reflection of solar energy, or albedo.


Average precipitation across the region show maxima within the mountains of the Appalachians. Between 28 inches (710 mm) and 62 inches (1,600 mm) of precipitation falls annually across the Northeastern United States, and New York’s averages are similar, with maxima of over 60 inches (1,500 mm) falling across southwestern Lewis county, northern Oneida county, central and southern Hamilton county, as well as northwestern Ulster county. The lowest amounts occur near the northern borders with Vermont and Ontario, as well as much of southwestern sections of the state.  Temporally, a maximum in precipitation is seen around three peak times: 3 a.m., 10 a.m., and 6 p.m. During the summer, the 6 p.m. peak is most pronounced.

Coastal extratropical cyclones, known as nor’easters, bring a bulk of the wintry precipitation to the region during the cold season as they track parallel to the coastline, forming along the natural temperature gradient of the Gulf stream before moving up the coastline. The Appalachian Mountains largely shield New York City from picking up any lake-effect snow,  which develops in the wake of extratropical cyclones downwind of the Great Lakes. The Finger Lakes of New York are long enough for lake-effect precipitation. Lake-effect snow from the Finger Lakes (like elsewhere) occurs in upstate New York until those lakes freeze over.  Annual average lake-effect snows exceed 150 inches (380 cm) downwind of Lake Erie and 200 inches (510 cm) downwind of Lake Ontario.

During the summer and early fall, mesoscale convective systems can move into the area from Canada and the Great Lakes. Tropical cyclones and their remains occasionally move into the region from the south and southwest. The region has experienced a couple heavy rainfall events that exceeded the 50-year return period, during October 1996 and October 1998, which suggest an increase in heavy rainfall along the coast.

New York ranks 46th among the 50 states in the amount of greenhouse gases generated per person. This efficiency is primarily due to the state’s higher rate of mass transit use.

New York experiences an average of ten tornadoes per year,  with one tornado every five years considered strong or violent. The return period for hurricane impacts on the state is 18–19 years, with major hurricane return periods between 70–74 years.



Due to its long history, the state of New York has several overlapping (and often conflicting) definitions of regions within the state. This is further exacerbated by the colloquial use of such regional labels. The New York State Department of Economic Development provides two distinct definitions of these regions. The department divides the state into ten economic regions, which approximately correspond to terminology used by residents:

  1. Western New York
  2. Finger Lakes
  3. Southern Tier
  4. Central New York
  5. North Country
  6. Mohawk Valley
  7. Capital District
  8. Hudson Valley
  9. New York City
  10. Long Island

The Department of Economic Development also groups the counties into eleven regions for tourism purposes:

  1. Chautauqua–Allegheny
  2. Niagara Frontier
  3. Finger Lakes
  4. Thousand Islands
  5. Central Region (formerly Central-Leatherstocking)
  6. Adirondack Mountains
  7. Capital District
  8. Catskill Mountains
  9. Hudson Valley
  10. New York City
  11. Long Island

State parks

New York has many state parks and two major forest preserves. Adirondack Park, roughly the size of the state of Vermont and the largest state park in the United States,  was established in 1892 and given state constitutional protection to remain “forever wild” in 1894. The park is larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon national parks combined.  The thinking that led to the creation of the Park first appeared in George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature, published in 1864.

The Catskill Park was protected in legislation passed in 1885, which declared that its land was to be conserved and never put up for sale or lease. Consisting of 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) of land,  the park is a habitat for bobcats, minks, and fishers. There are some 400 black bears living in the region.  The state operates numerous campgrounds, and there are over 300 miles (480 km) of multi-use trails in the Park.

The Montauk Point State Park boasts the 1797 Montauk Lighthouse, commissioned under President George Washington, which is a major tourist attraction on the easternmost tip of Long Island. Hither Hills park offers camping and is a popular destination with surfcasting sport fishermen.

National parks

The State of New York is well represented in the National Park System with 22 national parks, which received 16,349,381 visitors in 2011. In addition, there are 4 National Heritage Areas, 27 National Natural Landmarks, 262National Historic Landmarks, and 5,379 listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • African Burial Ground National Monument in Lower Manhattan is the only National Monument dedicated to Americans of African ancestry. It preserves a site containing the remains of more than 400 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries in a portion of what was the largest colonial-era cemetery for people of African descent, both free and enslaved, with an estimated tens of thousands of remains interred. The site’s excavation and study were called “the most important historic urban archeological project in the United States.”
  • Fire Island National Seashore is a United States National Seashore that protects a 26-mile (42 km) section of Fire Island, an approximately 30-mile (48 km) long barrier island separated from the mainland of Long Island by the Great South Bay. The island is part of Suffolk County.
  • Gateway National Recreation Area is more than 26,000 acres (10,522 ha) of water, marshes, and shoreline at the entrance to New York Harbor, the majority of which lies within New York. Including areas on Long Island and in New Jersey, it covers more area than that of two Manhattan Islands.
  • General Grant National Memorial is the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and is the largest mausoleum in North America.
  • Hamilton Grange National Memorial preserves the home of Alexander Hamilton, Caribbean immigrant and orphan who rose to be a United States founding father and indispensable partner to George Washington.
  • Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, established in 1945, preserves the Springwood estate in Hyde Park, New York. Springwood was the birthplace, lifelong home, and burial place of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Niagara Falls National Heritage Area was designated by Congress in 2008; it stretches from the western boundary of Wheatfield, New York to the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario, including the communities of Niagara Falls, Youngstown, and Lewiston. It includes Niagara Falls State Park and Colonial Niagara Historic District. It is managed in collaboration with the state.
  • Saratoga National Historical Park preserves the site of the Battles of Saratoga, the first significant American military victory of the American Revolutionary War. In 1777, American forces defeated a major British Army, which led France to recognize the independence of the United States, and enter the war as a decisive military ally of the struggling Americans.
  • Statue of Liberty National Monument includes Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The statue, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi, was a gift from France to the United States to mark the Centennial of the American Declaration of Independence; it was dedicated in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886. It has since become an icon of the United States and the concepts of democracy and freedom.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site is the birthplace and childhood home of President Theodore Roosevelt, the only US President born in New York City.


Administrative divisions of New York

The administrative divisions of New York are the various units of government that provide local government services in the state of New York.

The state is divided into counties, cities, towns, and villages, which are all municipal corporations with their own government that provide most local government services.  Whether a municipality is defined as a city, town, or village is not dependent on population or land area, but rather by the form of government selected by the residents and approved by the state legislature. Each such government is granted varying home rule powers as provided by the New York Constitution.  New York also has various corporate entities that serve single purposes that are also local governments, such as school and fire districts.

New York has 62 counties,  which are subdivided into 932 towns and 62 cities;  it also has 10 Indian reservations. In total, the state has over 3400 active local governments and over 4200 taxing jurisdictions.

Incorporated municipal governments (also known as “general purpose units of local government”; i.e., counties, cities, towns and villages) in New York State have been granted broad home rule powers enabling them to provide services to their residents and to regulate the quality of life within their jurisdictions. They do so while adhering to the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of New York. Articles VIII (titled “Local Finances”) and IX (titled “Local Government”, but commonly referred to as the “Home Rule” article) of the state constitution establish the rights and responsibilities of the municipal governments.

The New York State Constitution provides for democratically elected legislative bodies for counties, cities, towns and villages. These legislative bodies are granted the power to enact local laws as needed in order to provide services to their citizens and fulfill their various obligations.

The county is the primary administrative division of New York. There are sixty-two counties in the state. Five of the counties are boroughs of the city of New York and do not have functioning county governments.  While originally created as subdivisions of the state meant to carry out state functions, counties are now considered municipal corporations with the power and fiscal capacity to provide an array of local government services.  Such services generally include law enforcement and public safety, social and health services (such as Medicaid), and education (special needs and community colleges).

Every county outside of New York City has a county seat,  which is the location of county government.  However, the 4 outer-boroughs of New York City (The Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens) all have county clerks offices, located in Melrose, Downtown Brooklyn, St.George and Jamaica, respectively. These county clerk’s offices are typically nearby or directly adjacent to the ‘Borough Halls’ of these boroughs, with the exception of Queens, whose Borough Hall is the nearby neighborhood of Kew Gardens, though county functions, such as the issuance of marriage licenses, are still performed there.

Nineteen counties operate under county charters, while 38 operate under the general provisions of the County Law. Although all counties have a certain latitude to govern themselves, “charter counties” are afforded greater home rule powers. The charter counties are Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Chemung, Dutchess, Erie, Herkimer, Monroe, Nassau, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland,Schenectady, Suffolk, Tompkins, Ulster County, and Westchester.

16 counties are governed by a Board of Supervisors, composed of the supervisors of its constituent towns and cities. In most of these counties, each supervisor’s vote is weighted in accordance with the town’s population in order to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court mandate of “one person, one vote”. Other counties have legislative districts of equal population which may cross municipal borders; these counties may also have an elected County Executive. Most counties in New York do not use the term “Board of Supervisors.” 34 counties have a County Legislature, six counties have a Board of Legislators, and one county has a Board of Representatives. The five counties, or boroughs, of New York City are governed by a 51-member City Council.

In non-charter counties, the legislative body exercises executive power as well. Although the legislature can delegate certain functions and duties to a county administrator, who acts on behalf of the legislature, the legislature must maintain ultimate control over the actions of the administrator. Many, but not all, charter counties have an elected executive who is independent of the legislature; the exact form of government is defined in the County Charter


In New York, each city is a highly autonomous incorporated area  that, with the exceptions of New York City  and Geneva,  is contained within one county. Cities in New York are classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as incorporated places.  They provide almost all services to their residents and have the highest degree of home rule and taxing jurisdiction over their residents.  The main difference between a city and a village is that cities are organized and governed according to their charters, which can differ widely among cities,  while most villages are subject to a uniform statewide Village Law (twelve villages still operate under charters issued by the state legislature prior to a revision of the State Constitution in 1874 that forbade chartering villages).  Also, villages are part of a town (or towns; some villages cross town borders), with residents who pay taxes to and receive services from the town.  Cities are neither part of nor subordinate to towns except for the city of Sherrill, which for some purposes is treated as if it were a village of the town of Vernon.  Some cities are completely surrounded by a town, typically of the same name.

There are sixty-two cities in the state.  As of 2000, 54.1% of state residents were living in a city; 42.2% were living in New York City; 11.9% were living in one of the other 61 cities. In 1686, the English colonial governor granted the cities of New York and Albany city charters, which were recognized by the first State Constitution in 1777. All other cities have been established by act of the state legislature and have been granted a charter. Cities have been granted the power to revise their charters or adopt new ones. There are no minimum population or area requirements in order to become a city. While there is no defined process for how and when a village becomes a city, the Legislature requires clear evidence, usually in the form of a locally drafted charter, that the community in question seeks to incorporate as a city.

The forms of government cities can have are council-manager, strong mayor-council, weak mayor-council or commission. Forty-six cities, the majority, use the mayor-council form.

  • Strong mayor-council — An elective mayor serves as the chief executive and administrative head of the city. A city council serves as a legislature. The mayor has veto power over council decisions, prepares a budget, and appoints and removes agency heads. This form sometimes includes a professional administrator appointed by the mayor.
  • Weak mayor-council — The mayor is a ceremonial figure. The city council serves as both a legislature and executive committee. There is generally no mayoral veto.
  • Council-manager — The mayor, if such a position exists, is ceremonial only. A professional administrator, appointed by the city council, serves as the administrative head. While empowered to appoint and remove agency heads and responsible for preparing a budget, the administrator does not have veto power. The city council serves as the legislature.
  • Commission — Elected commissioners administer individual city departments and together act as a legislature. This form sometimes includes an administrator. There is no mayor, although commissioners sometimes assume mayoral ceremonial duties.

The city of New York is a special case. The state legislature reorganized government in the area in the 1890s in an effort to consolidate. Other cities, villages, and towns were annexed  to become the “City of Greater New York”,  (an unofficial term, the new city retained the name of New York), a process basically completed in 1898.  At the time of consolidation, Queens County was split. Its western towns joined the city, leaving three towns that were never part of the consolidation plan as part of Queens County but not part of the new Borough of Queens. (A small portion of the Town of Hempstead was itself annexed, also.) The next year (1899), the three eastern towns of Queens County separated to become Nassau County.  The city today consists of the entire area of five counties (named New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, and Richmond).  While these counties have no county government, boroughs — with boundaries coterminous with the county boundaries — each have a Borough Board made up of the Borough President, the borough’s district council members, and the chairpersons of the borough’s community boards. A mayor serves as the city’s chief executive officer.

The most populous and largest city in the state is New York City, with a population of over 8.2 million inhabitants and comprising just over 300 sq mi (777.00 km2) of land (468.87 sq mi (1,214.368 km2) total area, which includes water). The least populous city isSherrill, New York, with just 3,071 inhabitants in 2010. The smallest city by area is Mechanicville, New York, which covers 0.91 sq mi (2.4 km2) (of which 0.08 sq mi (0.2 km2) is water).

Some places containing the word “city” in their name are not cities. Examples include Johnson City, Garden City, and New City.


In New York, a town is the major division of each county (excluding the five counties that comprise New York City), very similar to townships in other states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Towns in New York are classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as minor civil divisions.  All residents of New York who do not live in a city or on an Indian reservation live in a town. Towns provide or arrange for the primary functions of local government. While some provide most municipal services for all town residents and selected services for residents of villages, some provide little more than road maintenance.  There are 932 towns in New York.  As of 2000, 45.8% of state residents were living in a town; 35.9% were living in a town but outside of a village.  Whereas cities and villages can cross county boundaries, all towns in New York are within a single county.

New York towns are classified by statute as being a town of the first class or a town of the second class. Additionally, a town of the first class can further be classified as a suburban town upon meeting certain criteria. Originally, towns of different classes possessed different powers. Since 1964, all towns, regardless of classification, have had the same legal powers as were once available only to suburban towns. Even so, towns of different classifications continue to have organizational differences and certain conditions that must be met before a town’s classification changes.

The town board serves as the legislative branch. The board is composed of one elected supervisor (or chief executive officer in suburban towns) and a specific number of elected council persons; towns of the second class generally have two but may have four council persons, whereas towns of the first class generally have four but can have two or six.  The supervisor presides over the board, voting on all matters but not possessing veto or tie-breaking power. Certain towns operate under a town manager form of government, as permitted by legislation enacted in 1976.  All town justices were originally part of a town’s board. Today, justices belong to a separate judicial branch  known as Town Court or Justice Court, part ofNew York’s Justice Court system.

A town may contain one or more villages.  Five towns are coterminous with their single village: Green Island in Albany County; East Rochester in Monroe County; and Scarsdale, Harrison and Mount Kisco in Westchester County. When such an entity is formed, officials from either unit of government may serve in both village and town governments simultaneously.  A referendum is held to decide whether residents prefer a village-style or town-style government, which will then function primarily as a village or town but will perform some of the functions of the other form.

Towns can contain several hamlets and communities. If the United States Postal Service (USPS) has a post office in a hamlet it often will use the name of that hamlet, as will the local fire department or elementary school. Businesses may also use the name of a hamlet as part of their name. The United States Census Bureau will, with consideration from the town, designate a census-designated place (CDP) that may use the name of one or more hamlets, though boundaries may differ from what is used by the ZIP code, local fire department, etc.

Towns in New York may be further subdivided into wards, although as of 2013, only eleven of the state’s 932 towns used this system.  In towns operating under the ward system, citizens vote for councilmen who represent a specific area (ward) of the town, as opposed to the at-large councilmen elected in the majority of the state’s towns.

Towns vary in size and population. The largest town by area is Brookhaven (Suffolk County), which covers 531.5 sq mi (1,377 km2), but more than half of that is water. The town of Webb (Herkimer County) has the greatest land area, at 451 sq mi (1,170 km2). The smallest town, Green Island (Albany County), covers 0.7 sq mi (1.8 km2). The town of Hempstead (Nassau County) has about 760,000 people (2010 census), making it more populous than any city in the state except New York City. Red House (Cattaraugus County), the least populous, has 38 permanent residents (2010 census).

The use of “town” in a community’s name is irrespective of municipal status. Elizabethtown, Germantown and Stephentown are towns. Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, is a village, Jamestown is a city, and Levittown is an unincorporated hamlet.

A census-designated place (CDP) is defined by the United States Census Bureau as “a statistical entity defined for each decennial census according to Census Bureau guidelines, comprising a densely settled concentration of population…  that is not part of a city or a village …but is locally identified by a name.  CDPs may cross town and county borders.  CDPs are defined collaboratively by state and local officials and the Census Bureau.  They are defined for each census, and it is commonplace to change boundaries and define new CDPs for each census.

The Census Bureau formerly referred to CDPs as “unincorporated places” from 1950 through the 1970 decennial censuses.  The term CDP was first used for the 1980 census, and minimum population criteria for CDPs were dropped with the 2000 Census.

Though the term “hamlet” is not defined under New York law, many people in the state use the term hamlet to refer to a community within a town that is not incorporated as a village but is identified by a name, i.e. an unincorporated community. Hamlets often have names corresponding to the names of a local school district, post office, or fire district.  Because a hamlet has no government of its own, it depends upon the town or towns that contain it for municipal services and government.

Suffolk County publishes maps that give hamlet boundaries, but towns within the county also publish maps that conflict both in the number of hamlets and their boundaries. Nevertheless, all land not within a village is administered by the town. Most of the rest of New York’s hamlets, however, have less defined boundaries, and most towns have areas that are not considered to be a part of any hamlet. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) puts hamlet names on rectangular green signs with white lettering at roadside locations of its choosing. The NYSDOT and local governments also provide community identification signs on some scenic byways to be placed at the roadside boundaries of hamlets, as decided by the sign provider.  Many towns have special zoning or planning districts and planning strategies for their hamlets,  and many place welcome signs at the gateways to the hamlets.

Some hamlets are former villages that have dissolved their incorporation (Old Forge in Herkimer County, Rosendale in Ulster County, and Andes in Delaware County, for example).

The New York State Gazetteer, published by the New York State Department of Health in 1995, includes a list of hamlets in the state. The criteria used for inclusion in the Gazetteer are not stated.

The Adirondack Park Agency also uses the term “hamlet”, though as a land use classification for private land under its Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan (APLUDP). The APLUDP extends the boundaries for its classification of hamlets “well beyond established settlements” to allow for growth.


In New York, a village is an incorporated area,  about 85% of which fall within a single town.  Villages in New York State are classified by the Census Bureau as incorporated places. Like all municipal corporations, villages have clearly defined legal boundaries. A village is a municipality that provides the services closest to the residents, which may or may not include garbage collection, management of cemeteries, street and highway maintenance, street lighting, and building codes. Some villages provide their own police and other municipal services. Villages have less autonomy than cities.  Those services not provided by the village are provided by the town or towns containing the village.  As of the 2000 census, 9.9% of the state’s population was living in one of the 556 villages in New York.

The legislature of a village is the board of trustees,  composed of a mayor and (usually) four trustees.  The board is responsible for approving mayoral appointments, managing village finances and property, and approving a budget.  The mayor, who is generally the chief executive of the village, may vote in all business before the board and must vote to break a tie.  The mayor generally does not possess veto power, unless this is provided for by local law.  Administrative duties of the mayor include enforcing laws and supervising employees. A village may also have a full-time village manager, who performs these administrative duties instead of the mayor. In 2007, sixty-seven villages had such a manager.  Some villages have their own village justice, while others utilize the justice of the town or towns in which they are located.

While most villages are subject to a uniform statewide Village Law, twelve villages operate under charters issued by the state legislature prior to 1874. Before a revision to the State Constitution in that year, villages were formed by the state legislature through granting of charters. Many villages reincorporated, dumping their charters in favor of the Village Law. The villages that retain their charters are Alexander, Carthage, Catskill, Cooperstown, Deposit,Fredonia, Ilion, Mohawk, Ossining, Owego, Port Chester, and Waterford. These villages must still comply with those aspects of Village Law that are not inconsistent with their charters.

To be incorporated, the area of the proposed village must have at least 500 inhabitants and not be part of an existing city or village. Additionally, the proposed village can be no more than 5 square miles (13 km²) in area unless its boundaries are to be coterminous with a school, fire, improvement or other district, or the entire town.  The process of incorporation begins with a petition by either 20% of residents or owners of 50% of assessed real property. If deemed legally sufficient, incorporation is then voted upon by the qualified voters living in the proposed village only.  Some villages have fewer than 500 residents, having incorporated before the present population requirement of 500.

A village may also be dissolved, returning all government control to the town level. The process of dissolution can be initiated by the village board itself, or upon the submission of a proper petition to the board. The village board must produce a “dissolution plan” that settles specific matters, such as the village’s debts, its employees and property, and the financial impact dissolution would have on village and non-village town residents. This plan is voted upon by village voters only.

About 15% of villages cross other municipal boundaries. More than 70 villages are located in two or more towns. Seven villages are in two counties. The village of Saranac Lake is in three towns and two counties.

Five towns are coterminous with their single village. See consolidated city-townships.

Some places containing “Village” or the suffix “-ville” in their name are not villages. Examples include Greenwich Village, Smithville, and Mechanicville.



The distribution of change in population growth is uneven in New York State; the New York City metropolitan area is growing considerably, along with Saratoga County; while most of Western New York is nearly stagnant. According to immigration statistics, the state is a leading recipient of migrants from around the globe. Between 2000 and 2005, immigration failed to surpass emigration, a trend that has been reversing since 2006. New York State lost two House seats in the 2011 congressional reapportionment, secondary to relatively slow growth when compared to the rest of the United States. In 2000 and 2005, more people moved from New York to Florida than from any one state to another.  However, New York State has the second-largest international immigrant population in the country among the American states, at 4.2 million as of 2008; most reside in and around New York City, due to its size, high profile, vibrant economy, and cosmopolitan culture.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of New York was 19,746,227 on July 1, 2014, a 1.9% increase since the 2010 United States Census.  Despite the open land in the state, New York’s population is very urban, with 92% of residents living in an urban area, predominantly in the New York City metropolitan area.

Two-thirds of New York State’s population resides in New York City Metropolitan Area. New York City is the most populous city in the United States,  with an estimated record high population of 8,491,079 in 2014,  incorporating more immigration into the city than emigration since the 2010 United States Census.  More people live in New York City than in the next two most populous U.S. cities (Los Angeles  and Chicago ) combined, which, according to the United States Census Bureau, is estimated to total 6,572,655. Long Island alone accounted for a Census-estimated 7,804,968 residents in 2014, representing 39.5% of New York State’s population.

These are the ten counties with the largest populations as of 2010:

  1. Kings County (Brooklyn): 2,504,700
  2. Queens County (Queens): 2,230,722
  3. New York County (Manhattan): 1,585,873
  4. Suffolk County: 1,493,350
  5. Bronx County (the Bronx): 1,385,108
  6. Nassau County: 1,339,532
  7. Westchester County: 949,113
  8. Erie County: 919,040
  9. Monroe County: 744,344
  10. Richmond County (Staten Island): 468,730

The following are the top ten metropolitan areas in the state as of the 2010 Census:

  1. New York City and the Hudson Valley (19,567,410 in NY/NJ/PA, 13,038,826 in NY)
  2. Buffalo-Niagara Falls (1,135,509)
  3. Rochester (1,079,671)
  4. Albany and the Capital District (870,716)
  5. Syracuse (662,577)
  6. Utica-Rome (299,397)
  7. Binghamton (251,725)
  8. Kingston (182,493)
  9. Glens Falls (128,923)
  10. Watertown-Fort Drum (116,229)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2010 racial makeup of New York State was as follows by self-identification:

  • White American – 65.7%
  • Black or African American – 15.9%
  • Asian American – 7.3% (3.0% Chinese, 1.6% Indian, 0.7% Korean, 0.5% Filipino, 0.3% Pakistani, 0.3% Bangladeshi, 0.2% Japanese, 0.1% Vietnamese)
  • Multiracial Americans – 3.0%
  • Native American/American Indian – 0.6%
  • Some other race – 7.5%

In 2010, the most common American English dialects spoken in New York, besides General American English, were the New York City area dialect (including New York Latino English and North Jersey English), Hudson Valley English (including the Western New England accent around Albany), and Inland Northern American English in Buffalo and western New York State. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York City, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world.

As of 2010, 70.72% (12,788,233) of New York residents aged five and older reported speaking only English at home, while 14.44% (2,611,903) spoke Spanish, 2.61% (472,955) Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin), 1.20% (216,468) Russian, 1.18% (213,785) Italian, 0.79% (142,169) French Creole, 0.75% (135,789) French, 0.67% (121,917) Yiddish, 0.63% (114,574) Korean, and Polish was spoken by 0.53% (95,413) of the population over the age of five. In total, 29.28% (5,295,016) of New York’s population aged five and older reported speaking a language other than English.

Most common non-English languages spoken in New York
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)
Spanish 14.44%
Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) 2.61%
Russian 1.20%
Italian 1.18%
French Creole 0.79%
French 0.75%
Yiddish 0.67%
Korean 0.63%
Polish 0.53%
Bengali 0.43%

Economy of New York

New York’s economy is dominated by New York City but has other productive cities, suburbs and rural areas. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis the Total Personal Income of the state in 2007 was $847 billion.

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, New York was the largest economy within the USA. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that in 2005, the total gross state product was $963.5 billion , ranking 3rd behind California and Texas. If New York were a nation, it would rank as the 16th largest economy in the world, behind South Korea. The state economy grew 3.3%, slightly slower than the 3.5% growth rate for the US. It was the 25th fastest growing economy in the US in 2005. Its 2005 per capita personal income was $50,038, an increase of 5.9% from 2004, placing it 5th in the nation behind Massachusetts, and 8th in the world behind Ireland. New York’s agricultural outputs are dairy products, cattle and other livestock, vegetables, nursery stock, and apples. Its industrial outputs are printing and publishing, scientific instruments, electric equipment, machinery, and chemical products.

New York City dominates the economy of the state. It is the leading center of banking, finance and communication in the United States and is the location of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street, Manhattan. Many of the world’s largest corporations locate their home offices in Manhattan or in nearby Westchester County, New York.

The state also has a large manufacturing sector which includes printing and the production of garments, furs, railroad rolling stock, and bus line vehicles. Some industries are concentrated in upstate locations also, such as ceramics and glass (the southern tier of counties), microchips and nanotechnology (Albany), and photographic equipment (Rochester).

The counties of Nassau and Suffolk have long been pooed on for their affluence. Long Island has a very high standard of living with residents paying some of the highest property taxes in the country. In opulent pockets of the North Shore of Long Island and South Shore, assets have passed from one generation to the next over time.

From about 1930 to about 1990, Long Island was one of the aviation centers of the United States, with companies such as Grumman Aircraft having their headquarters and factories in the Bethpage area. Grumman was long a major supplier of Carrier-based aircraft. Parts are still made for assembly elsewhere.

Long Island is home to the East Coast’s largest industrial park, the Hauppauge Industrial Park. The park has over 1,300 tenant companies employing over 55,000 Long Islanders.

Long Island has played a prominent role in scientific research and in engineering. It is the home of the Brookhaven National Laboratories.

Tourism thrives primarily in the summer, especially on the east end of Suffolk County. The east end of the island is still partly agricultural, now including many vineyards and pumpkin farms as well as traditional truck farming.

Fishing also continues to be an important industry, especially at Northport and Montauk. A moderately large saltwater commercial fishery operates on the Atlantic side of Long Island. The principal catches by value are clams, lobsters, squid, and flounder. There was in past centuries a large oyster fishery in New York waters as well, but at present, oysters comprise only a small portion of the total value of seafood harvested.

Perhaps the best known aspect of the fishing sector is the famous Fulton Fish Market in New York City, which distributes not only the New York catch but imported seafood from all over the world. At the turn of the 21st century the market moved from Fulton Street inManhattan to The Bronx.

New York’s mining sector is concentrated in three areas. The first is near New York City. Primarily, this area specializes in construction materials for use in the city, but it also contains the emery mines south of Peekskill in Westchester County, one of two locations in the U.S. where that mineral is extracted. The second area is the Adirondack Mountains. This is an area of very specialized products, including talc, industrial garnets, and zinc. The Adirondacks are not part of the Appalachian system, despite their location, but are structurally part of the mineral-rich Canadian Shield. In the inland southwestern part of the state, in the Allegheny Plateau, is a region of drilled wells. The only major liquid output at present is salt in the form of brine; however, there are also small to moderate petroleum reserves in this area. New York produced 211,292,000 barrels (33,592,700 m3) of crude oil and 55.2 billion cubic feet (1.56×109 m3) of natural gas in 2005 worth $440M. 1.58 billion US gallons (6,000,000 m3) of Salt Brine were produced in 2005 at a value of about $100M. Geothermal energy potential is being explored in the state, with 24 drilling applications being submitted to the Division of Mineral Resources in 2005.

New York exports a wide variety of goods such as foodstuffs, commodities, minerals, manufactured goods, cut diamonds, and automobile parts. New York’s top five export markets in 2004 were Canada ($30.2 billion), United Kingdom ($3.3 billion), Japan ($2.6 billion), Israel ($2.4 billion), and Switzerland ($1.8 billion). New York’s largest imports are oil, gold, aluminum, natural gas, electricity, rough diamonds, and lumber.

Canada has become a very important economic partner of New York. 23% of the state’s total worldwide exports went to Canada in 2004. Tourism also constitutes a significant part of the economy.

The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, opened eastern markets to Midwest farm products. The canal also contributed to the growth of New York City, helped create large cities, and encouraged immigration to the state. Except in the mountain regions, the areas between cities are agriculturally rich. The Finger Lakes region has orchards producing apples, which are one of New York’s leading crops. The state is known for wines produced at vineyards in the Finger Lakes region and Long Island. The state also produces other crops, especially grapes, strawberries, cherries, pears, onions, and potatoes. New York is a major supplier of maple syrup and is the third leading producer of dairy goods in the United States.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York’s agricultural production returned more than $3.6 billion to the farm economy in 2005. 35,600 farms occupy 7.55 million acres (31,000 km²), or about 25 percent of the state’s land area, to produce an array of food products. Here are some of the items in which New York ranks high nationally:

New York is an agricultural leader and is one of the top five states for agricultural products, including dairy, apples, cherries, cabbages, potatoes, onions, maple syrup and many others. The state is the largest producer of cabbage in the U.S. The state has about a quarter of its land in farms and produced $3.4 billion in agricultural products in 2001. The south shore of Lake Ontario provides the right mix of soils and microclimate for apple, cherry,plum, pear and peach orchards. Apples are also grown in the Hudson Valley and near Lake Champlain. The south shore of Lake Erie and the southern Finger Lakes hillsides have vineyards. New York is the nation’s third-largest grape-producing state, after California and Washington, and second largest wine producer by volume. In 2004, New York’s wine and grape industry brought $6 billion into the state economy. The state has 30,000 acres (120 km²) of vineyards, 212 wineries, and produced 200 million bottles of wine in 2004.

New York was heavily glaciated in the ice age leaving much of the state with deep, fertile, though somewhat rocky soils. Row crops, including hay, corn, wheat, oats, barley, and soybeans, are grown. Particularly in the western part of the state, sweet corn, peas, carrots, squash, cucumbers and other vegetables are grown. The Hudson and Mohawk Valleys are known for pumpkins and blueberries. The glaciers also left numerous swampy areas, which have been drained for the rich humus soils called muckland which is mostly used for onions, potatoes, celery and other vegetables. Dairy farms are present throughout much of the state. Cheese is a major product, often produced by Amish or Mennonite farm cheeseries. New York is rich in nectar-producing plants and is a majorhoney-producing state. The honeybees are also used for pollination of fruits and vegetables. Most commercial beekeepers are migratory, taking their hives to southern states for the winter. Most cities have Farmers’ markets which are well supplied by local farmers.

Transportation in New York is made up of some of the most extensive and one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the country. Engineering difficulties because of the terrain of New York State and the unique issues of New York City brought on by urban crowding have had to be overcome since the state was young. Population expansion of the state generally followed the path of the early waterways, first the Hudson River and then the Erie Canal. Today, railroad lines and the New York State Thruway follow the same general route.

New York has one of the most extensive and one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the country. Engineering difficulties because of the terrain of the state and the unique issues of the city brought on by urban crowding have had to be overcome perennially. Population expansion of the state has followed the path of the early waterways, first the Hudson River and Mohawk River, then the Erie Canal. In the 19th century, railroads were constructed along the river valleys, followed by the New York State Thruway in the 20th century. The New York State Department of Transportation has been criticized for lack of road maintenance in some areas, and for collection of tolls past the payback for construction. Until 2006, tolls were collected on the Thruway within Buffalo. They were dropped late in 2006 during the campaign for governor (both candidates called for their removal).

In addition to New York City’s famous mass transit subway, four suburban commuter railroad systems enter and leave the city: the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, Port Authority Trans-Hudson, and five of New Jersey Transit’s rail lines. Many other cities have urban and regional public transportation. In Buffalo, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority runs the Buffalo Metro Rail light-rail system; in Rochester, the Rochester Subway operated from 1927 until 1956, but fell into disuse as state and federal investment went to highways.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV or DMV) is the governmental agency responsible for registering and inspecting automobiles and other motor vehicles, as well as licensing drivers in the State of New York. As of 2008, the NYSDMV has 11,284,546 drivers licenses on file  and 10,697,644 vehicle registrations in force. All gasoline-powered vehicles registered in New York State are required to have an emissions inspection every 12 months, in order to ensure environmental controls are working to prevent air pollution. Diesel-powered vehicles with a gross weight rating over 8,500 lb that are registered in most Downstate New York counties must get an annual emissions inspection. All vehicles registered in New York State must get an annual safety inspection.

Portions of the transportation system are intermodal, allowing travelers to switch easily from one mode of transportation to another. One of the most notable examples is AirTrain JFK which allows rail passengers to travel directly to terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport as well as to the underground New York City Subway system.

In May 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation under the control of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan banned cars from Times Square, in order to improve traffic flow and reduce air pollution, and to reduce pedestrian accidents in an area of high numbers of tourists. On February 11, 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the pedestrian plazas would remain permanent.


Government, elections, and politics

The Government of New York is the governmental structure of the State of New York as established by the New York State Constitution. It is composed of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial.

The New York State Legislature is bicameral and consists of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly. The Assembly consists of 150 members; the Senate varies in its number of members, but currently has 63. The Legislature is empowered to make laws, subject to the Governor’s power to veto a bill. However, the veto may be overridden by the Legislature if there is a two-thirds majority in favor of overriding in each House. The permanent laws of a general nature are codified in the Consolidated Laws.

The Governor is the State’s chief executive and is assisted by the Lieutenant Governor. Both are elected on the same ticket. Additional elected officers include the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Comptroller. There are also several state government departments.

The highest court of appeal in the Unified Court System is the Court of Appeals whereas the primary felony trial courts are the Supreme Court and the county courts (outside of New York City). The Supreme Court also acts as the intermediate appellate court for many cases, and the local courts handle a variety of other matters including small claims, traffic ticket cases and local zoning matters, and are the starting point for all criminal cases. TheNew York City Courts make up the largest local court system.

The state is divided into counties, cities, towns, and villages, which are all municipal corporations with their own government, as well as various corporate entities that serve single purposes that are also local governments, such as school, fire districts, and New York state public-benefit corporations, frequently known as authorities or development corporations. It also has 10 Indian reservations. Each municipal corporation is granted varying home rulepowers as provided by the New York Constitution.

Since the second half of the 20th century, New York State has generally supported candidates belonging to the Democratic Party in national elections. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama won New York State by 25 percentage points in 2008, a bigger margin than John Kerry in 2004. New York City is a major Democratic stronghold with liberal politics. Many of the state’s other urban areas, such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse are also Democratic. Rural upstate New York, however, is generally more conservative than the cities and tends to favorRepublicans. Heavily populated suburban areas downstate, such as Westchester County and Long Island, have swung between the major parties over the past 25 years, but more often than not support Democrats.

New York City is the most important source of political fundraising in the United States for both major parties. Four of the top five zip codes in the nation for political contributions are in Manhattan. The top zip code, 10021 on the Upper East Side, generated the most money for the 2000 presidential campaigns of both George W. Bush and Al Gore.

The State of New York sends 27 members to the House of Representatives  in addition to its two United States Senators. As of the 2000 census and the redistricting for the 2002 elections, the state had 29 members in the House, but the representation was reduced to 27 in 2013 due to the state’s slower overall population growth relative to the overall national population growth.  From 2016 New York will have 29electoral votes in national presidential elections (a drop from its peak of 47 votes from 1933 to 1953).

New York is represented by Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in the United States Senate and has the nation’s third equal highest number of congressional districts, equal with Florida and behind California’s 53 and Texas’s 36.



The University of the State of New York oversees all public primary, middle-level, and secondary education in the state, while the New York City Department of Education manages the public school system in New York City. In 1894, reflecting general racial discrimination, the state passed a law that allowed communities to set up separate schools for children of African-American descent. But the Free African School had been set up in New York City in the early 19th century. In 1900, the state passed another law requiring integrated schools.

At the post-secondary level, the statewide public university system is the State University of New York commonly referred to as SUNY. New York City also has its own City University of New York, which is funded by the city. The SUNY system consists of 64 community colleges, technical colleges, undergraduate colleges, and doctoral-granting institutions including several universities. Many were founded in the 19th century as Normal Schools for the training of teachers, when public education was expanded. The four SUNY university centers, offering a wide array of academic programs, are the University at Albany, Binghamton University, the University at Buffalo, and Stony Brook University.

Notable private universities include the New York Institute of Technology, Hofstra University, New York University, and Fordham University, the oldest Catholic institution in the Northeast. New York state is home to both Columbia University in New York City and Cornell University in Ithaca. Syracuse University is located in the city of Syracuse in Central New York. West Point, the service academy of the U.S. Army, is located just south of Newburgh, on the west bank of the Hudson River.

During the 2007–2008 school year, New York spent more on public education per pupil than any other state.



New York hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. The 1980 Games are known for the USA–USSR hockey game dubbed the “Miracle on Ice” in which a group of American college students and amateurs defeated the heavily favored Soviet national ice hockey team 4–3 and went on to win the gold medal against Finland. Along with St. Moritz, Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria, Lake Placid is one of the three cities to have hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice. New York City bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics but lost to London.

New York is the home of one National Football League team, the Buffalo Bills (based in the suburb of Orchard Park). Although the New York Giants and New York Jets represent the New York metropolitan area and were previously located in New York City, they play in MetLife Stadium, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York also has two Major League Baseball teams, the New York Yankees (based in the Bronx) and the New York Mets (based in Queens). New York is home to three National Hockey League franchises: the New York Rangers in Manhattan, the New York Islanders in Brooklyn and the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo. New York has two National Basketball Association teams, the New York Knicks in Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn. There are a variety of minor league teams that can be found throughout the State of New York, such as the Long Island Ducks. New York is the home of a Major League Soccer franchise, New York City FC. Although the New York Red Bulls represent the New York metropolitan area, they play in Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

Several U.S. national sports halls of fame are or have been situated in New York. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Cooperstown, Otsego County. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, honors achievements in the sport of thoroughbred horse racing. The physical facility of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, also in Otsego County, closed in 2010, although the organization itself has continued inductions.