New York City is an ethnic melting pot where the most dramatic cultural contrasts are commonplace. It is among the most geographically and demographically complex of world cities, its economy one of the most diverse, and its cultural scene among the richest and most variegated.
A brief treatment of New York City follows. For full treatment, see New York City.
The city consists of five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island [formerly Richmond]), which correspond to five counties of New York state (New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, and Richmond, respectively). All are located near the point where the Hudson River empties into Upper New York Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. The city's only land boundaries are Westchester county on the north and Nassau county on Long Island to the east. The city's waterfront is used for shipping and recreation.
The city may be described as a collection of many neighbourhoods, each with its own character and life-style. Manhattan is the economic and cultural heart of
the city and is often considered to be "the city." Administration and services, however, have become increasingly decentralized as community planning boards have assumed more power in areas such as education, health, housing, and public works. Manhattan, the magnet for tourists and businessmen, is at first glance a city of skyscrapers, glaring lights, and frenetic pace. The shopping promenade of Fifth Avenue, the financial institutions of Wall Street, the residential mansions of Park Avenue, or the bohemian life in the East Village and SoHo give typical impressions. Only Brooklyn of the other boroughs has a similar ethnic heterogeneity and a similar range of social life, with commercial and industrial districts and residential areas ranging from the wealth of Brooklyn Heights to the most abject poverty of parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Queens is mainly residential and middle class, and Staten Island is partly suburban but still rural in some areas. In the Bronx luxurious residences and solid middle-class apartments prevail in some sections, but other areas, especially the South Bronx, are the scene of severe urban blight.
Ethnic pockets abound throughout Manhattan, from black and Spanish Harlem in the north, to the various enclaves of the Lower East Side such as Little Italy and Chinatown. New York City also has large numbers of Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and West Indians, as well as the largest Jewish population of any city in the world. This ethnic and racial mix is the result of the waves of immigration that the city has absorbed during its history. The Statue of Liberty, located on Liberty Island off Manhattan, has long stood as a symbol of refuge and opportunity.
New York City is a centre of world trade and finance, communications, art and entertainment, and fashion. The city is the financial capital of the United States and holds the headquarters of many of the world's largest corporations. Wall Street in Manhattan is home to the nation's largest stock exchange and is the headquarters of the country's largest brokerage firms. With the headquarters of the nation's television and radio networks and the main offices of the largest advertising agencies, New York City is the heart of the mass media in the United States. Printing and publishing are also of great importance, and most of the nation's major publishing houses are based in midtown Manhattan. The city's economic life also depends on the great diversity of its numerous small businesses and manufacturing establishments.
Wearing apparel, symbolized by its famous garment district, continues to be New York City's major manufacturing industry. White-collar jobs, however, are far more numerous. The main nonmanufacturing employers include service businesses; wholesale and retail trades; finance, insurance, and real estate; transport and public utilities; government; and construction.
Automation and mergers have resulted in the loss of many jobs in the city. In addition, escalating rents and taxes and high crime rates have caused many firms to leave. Steps have been taken by the city government, however, to alleviate these problems and to provide incentives for remaining.
The artists of New York City exhibit in a wide variety of forms, ranging from traditional crafts to the most avant-garde work, flavoured by complex blends of ethnic and national influences. Theatrical arts and entertainment are also widespread: Broadway is the synonym for musical comedies and legitimate drama; Carnegie Hall is one of the most famous concert halls in the world; and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is the home of the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. Though the importance of Broadway has declined, theatre is very much alive in the more venturesome Off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway productions. The city has numerous motion-picture theatres, among which are many revival and foreign-film houses.
The New York Public Library is one of the best research libraries in the world. Most famous among the city's many museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the American Museum of Natural History. Many lesser known museums house special collections. The city's extensive system of public parks includes Central Park in Manhattan.
New York City has an extensive public university system. Outstanding private colleges and universities in the city include Columbia, New York, Rockefeller, and Fordham universities, numerous medical schools, the New School for Social Research, and the Juilliard School.
New York City's subway system carries more than one-third of all mass-transit passengers in the metropolitan area, with the balance provided by commuter rail lines and buses. The once-famous docks of Hell's Kitchen along the Hudson River in Manhattan have disappeared, and considerable shipping has shifted to the New Jersey side of the harbour. Rail lines radiate in all directions. International and domestic air service is provided by Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark (New Jersey) international airports. Area city, 304 square miles (787 square km); metropolitan area, 1,384 square miles (3,585 square km). Pop. (1990) city, 7,322,564; New York PMSA, 8,546,846; New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island CMSA, 18,087,251.
New York City
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