To many, New York City is New York State, but there is much more to this historic and scenically diverse state than the Big Apple. Within an hour’s drive visitors can find the beaches of Long Island or escape to the Catskill Mountains to fish, hike or ski. A little further north, on the Hudson River, is the state capital Albany, which is a good base from which to explore ‘upstate’ New York. In the centre of the state the solitude of the Adirondacks region can be found – home to some of the highest and most dramatic mountains in the eastern United States, attracting the energetic with a range of activities including hiking, skiing, horse riding and mountain biking.
On the border with Canada, between Lakes Ontario and Erie is possibly the country’s most spectacular natural attraction, and certainly the most popular – the Niagara Falls.
Located midway between Niagara Falls and New York City are the Finger Lakes, which despite being within 200 miles (322km) of the city remain one of the most unspoilt vacation areas in the USA, renowned for their picturesque lakes, wineries and lush forests. Until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, most of the area that is now New York was controlled by the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of Native American peoples. Henry Hudson discovered and named the Hudson River in 1609 and claimed the area for the Dutch, sixty years later the British took control and named it New York; the Native Americans prospered during this time, controlling the lucrative fur trade.
A century later, during the French and Indian Wars the British defeated the French and took control of all of northeast America. The victory was largely thanks to the Iroquois allying themselves with the British and in 1763 all the new British Territory, extending as far as the Mississippi, was declared an Indian reserve. This was short-lived however, the Iroquois again allied themselves with the British during the War of Independence, and in the reprisals entire communities were wiped out and much of their land was deeded to the revolutionary war veterans.
George Washington was sworn in as the republic’s first president in 1789 in New York City. By 1830 the population had exploded to 250,000, but mass immigration did not start until the 1840s, with the arrival of the Irish. By 1880 the population was 1.2 million.
With this abundant labour, vast natural resources and unfettered capitalism New York, and the other Mid-Atlantic States, became one of the most industrialised regions in the world. Great cities developed including New York, New York… king of the hill, top of the heap.
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