The first person to visit the area which is now known as New York City was Giovanni da Verrazano who discovered the area in 1524, when he sailed into the area and landed there. The discovery and first settlement of the area occurred in 1609 by Henry Hudson, who found the location while searching for a new route to Asia. The settlement was called New Amsterdam and established as a Dutch trading colony. The name of the settlement would eventually become New York in 1664, when the British took control of the colonies.
New York City became an important city during the Revolutionary War period and for a brief time period, it was Capital of the new United States after the colonies declared their independence. In the 1800’s, with the opening of the Erie Canal providing passage to the Great Lakes, New York became one of the most important sea ports on the Atlantic Ocean, and became a center of trade. This lead to a substantial population growth into the largest city in the United States.
New York City also became a destination for immigrants coming in to the country to begin a new life. In the early 1900’s millions of people came though Ellis Island seeking citizenship in the United States. A vast majority of these immigrants settled in New York City, which today is still one of the most diverse populations in the world.
Over time the city has grown to be a population center in the United States as well as a center for various activities. New York City is known for Broadway, the fabulous skyline, Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, top sports venues and teams, and is one of the top destinations for tourists around the world.
On one of the world’s largest natural harbours, New York City consists of five boroughs, each of which is a county of New York State. The five boroughs—the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island—were consolidated into a single city in 1898. With a census-estimated 2013 population of 8,405,837 distributed over a land area of just 305 square miles (790 km2), New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. By 2013 census estimates, the New York City metropolitan region remains by a significant margin the most populous in the United States, as defined by both the Metropolitan Statistical Area (19.9 million residents).
Many districts and landmarks in New York City have become well known to the city’s approximately 55 million annual visitors. Several sources have ranked New York the most photographed city in the world. Times Square, iconified as “The Crossroads of the World”, is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theatre District, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major centre of the world’s entertainment industry. The names of many of the city’s bridges, skyscrapers, and parks are known around the world. New York City’s financial district, anchored by Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, has been called the world’s leading financial centre and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world’s largest stock exchange by total market capitalization of its listed companies.
The city is the birthplace of many cultural movements, including the Harlem Renaissance in literature and visual art; abstract expressionism (also known as the New York School) in painting; and hip hop, punk, salsa, disco, freestyle, Tin Pan Alley, and Jazz in music. New York City has been considered the dance capital of the world. The city is also widely celebrated in popular lore, frequently the setting for books, movies, and television programs.
Forty of the city’s theatres, with more than 500 seats each, are collectively known as Broadway, after the major thoroughfare that crosses the Times Square Theatre District, sometimes referred to as “The Great White Way”.