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All About New York: The Empire State

by | Dec 19, 2022 | All About States

Love pizza? (Mo likes it topped with hamburger, but please – no onions!) The first pizzeria in this country, called Lombardi’s Pizza, opened in New York City back in 1905 by a man named Genaro Lombardo who was from Naples, Italy.

New York is famous for so many wonderful things, some of which you may already know about or learned in school. Here’s a sampling:

  • Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. It’s actually a group of three gigantic waterfalls on the Niagara River, which flow from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. More than 750,000 gallons of water crash down every second! Niagara Falls State Park, which opened in 1885, is the first official state park in this country.
  • More movies are filmed in Manhattan’s Central Park than anywhere else on Earth.
  • Nicknamed “Lady Liberty”, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to help people in this country celebrate 100 years of American independence. Do you know that the seven spikes in her crown represent the seven oceans and continents of the world? The statue was shipped in 350 pieces and took about four months to assemble.

Think you can find New York on a US map? The state is bordered by a country called Canada and one of the five Great Lakes, Lake Ontario, to its north; Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its south; another Great Lake, Lake Erie, to its west; and Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east.

What really happened

  • About 5,000 years ago, Native Americans came to the area now called New York. Thousands of years later, many of their descendants are Native American tribes, including the Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida and Seneca.
  • In 1624, the Dutch established a colony on what’s now Manhattan Island. It was named New Amsterdam.
  • The British took control of New Amsterdam (from the Dutch) in 1664 and renamed it New York, in honor of the English Duke of York and Albany.
  • After the American Revolution in 1776, New York became a US colony and was then admitted to the Union in 1788.
  • The following year, in 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States. At the time, the country’s capital was in New York.
  • In 1790, the nation’s capital was moved to Washington, DC.
  • Early in the 19th century, Brooklyn became the world’s first modern commuter suburb.  Brooklyn is one of NYC’s five boroughs (or subdivisions). Can you name the other four? (The answers are at the end of this blog.)
  • In 1869, construction began on the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. Completed in 1883, it ranks among the oldest bridges in the country and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world.
  • By the 1880s Brooklyn had become one of the country’s most important manufacturing centers. Sugar refining was the city’s largest single industry. Clocks, cigars, beer, insulated wiring, electrical signs, packaged coffee, and even teddy bears were all produced in Brooklyn.
  • Between 1892 and 1924, more than 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island in New York Harbor.
  • The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 after World War II ended. In 1952, New York City became the headquarters for the UN. This international organization has grown from its original membership of 51 countries called Member States to now 193 countries. They gather together, discuss common problems, and try to find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.
  • On September 11, 2001, hijackers flew planes into the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center; the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C.; and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Stuff you should know

  • More people live in NYC (more than 8 million) than in any other US city.
  • New York City has more than 520 miles of coastline. That’s more coastline than Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston combined.
  • Roughly 800 languages are spoken in the state’s metro area.
  • It is the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes.
  • New York has over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams and 722 miles of subway tracks!
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks in the US. It holds the largest stockpile of gold reserves in the world, almost as many reserves as the next three largest gold-holding countries combined (Germany, Italy and France).
  • Thousand Islands, a collection of small islands, sit between New York and Canada, our neighboring country to the north.

Funny, crazy or just plain weird

  • Manhattan’s Empire State Building, which is the sixth tallest building in the country, gets hit by lightning about 23 times a year on average.
  • In 1975, someone bought a private island in the East River for a measly $10.
  • From Colonial America up until World War II, May 1st was Moving Day, the one day a year when people in New York City moved. Historians believe this tradition came from the Dutch, who set out for Manhattan on  May 1st and celebrated each year by swapping homes on this day.
  • To boost Navy recruitment during World War I, the Navy built a ship right smack in the middle of New York City.
  • In 1884, 21 elephants and 17 camels marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate its stability.
  • Besides 50,000 books, the New York Public Library owns and stores locks of hair from famous people who lived in the 1800s. They include Walt Whitman, a famous poet and journalist; and Wild Bill Hickok, a soldier, scout, gunfighter, lawman, gambler and actor.

Tell me more

  • The statues of two lions standing guard in front of the New York Public Library are called Patience and Fortitude. Here’s why.
  • One of New York City’s nicknames is The Big Apple. A Big Apple referred to prizes awarded at horse racing events in the 1920s. It also means “the best”. The state’s tourism board adopted The Big Apple as an official nickname in 1971.
  • There are currently 41 Broadway theaters in The Big Apple.
  • New York City is the world’s wealthiest city with the largest number of resident millionaires and billionaires.
  • Like spaghetti and meatballs? It was invented here.
  • New York is the second most expensive state to live in. Hawaii tops the charts.

Did you figure out the names of the remaining four boroughs? They are the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

There are many other fascinating things about this state, too many to include in this post! BUT, if you live in New York or if you’ve visited the state and would like to add something else, please send your tidbit along with your first name, age, and state where you live to info@adventuresofmo.com and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages!

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