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New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. The city is referred to as New York City or the City of New York to distinguish it from the State of New York, of which it is a part. A global power city, New York exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The home of the United Nations Headquarters, New York is an important center for international diplomacy and has been described as the cultural capital of the world.
Located on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, 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 2012 population of 8,336,697 distributed over a land area of just 302.64 square miles (783.8 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 2012 census estimates, the New York Metropolitan Area’s population remains by a significant margin the United States’ largest Metropolitan Statistical Area, with approximately 19.8 million people, and is also part of the most populous Combined Statistical Area in the United States, containing an estimated 23.4 million people.
New York traces its roots to its 1624 founding as a trading post by colonists of the Dutch Republic and was named New Amsterdam in 1626. The city and its surroundings came under English control in 1664 and were renamed New York after King Charles II of England granted the lands to his brother, the Duke of York. New York served as the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790. It has been the country’s largest city since 1790. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to America by ship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is a globally recognized symbol of the United States and its democracy.
Many districts and landmarks in New York City have become well known to its approximately 50 million annual visitors. 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 center 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 center and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world’s largest stock exchange by total market capitalization of its listed companies. Manhattan’s real estate market is among the most expensive in the world. Manhattan’s Chinatown incorporates the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere.[ Providing continuous 24/7 service, the New York City Subway is one of the most extensive rapid transit systems worldwide. Numerous colleges and universities are located in New York, including Columbia University, New York University, and Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top 35 in the world.
New York City is located in the Northeastern United States, in southeastern New York State, approximately halfway between Washington, D.C. and Boston. The location at the mouth of the Hudson River, which feeds into a naturally sheltered harbor and then into the Atlantic Ocean, has helped the city grow in significance as a trading port. Much of New York is built on the three islands of Manhattan, Staten Island, and Long Island, making land scarce and encouraging a high population density.
The Hudson River flows through the Hudson Valley into New York Bay. Between New York City and Troy, New York, the river is an estuary. The Hudson separates the city from New Jersey. The East River—a tidal strait—flows from Long Island Sound and separates the Bronx and Manhattan from Long Island. The Harlem River, another tidal strait between the East and Hudson Rivers, separates most of Manhattan from the Bronx. The Bronx River, which flows through the Bronx and Westchester County, is the only entirely fresh water river in the city.
The city’s land has been altered substantially by human intervention, with considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since Dutch colonial times. Reclamation is most prominent in Lower Manhattan, with developments such as Battery Park City in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the natural relief in topography has been evened out, especially in Manhattan.
The city’s total area is 468.9 square miles (1,214 km2). 164.1 sq mi (425 km2) of this is water and 304.8 sq mi (789 km2) is land. The highest point in the city is Todt Hill on Staten Island, which, at 409.8 feet (124.9 m) above sea level, is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine. The summit of the ridge is mostly covered in woodlands as part of the Staten Island Greenbelt.
Under the Köppen climate classification, using the 0 °C (32 °F) coldest month (January) isotherm, New York City itself experiences a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), and New York is thus the northernmost major city on the North American continent with this categorization. The suburbs to the immediate north and west lie in the transition zone from a humid subtropical (Cfa) to a humid continental climate (Dfa). The area averages 234 days with at least some sunshine annually, and averages 58% of possible sunshine annually, accumulating 2,400 to 2,800 hours of sunshine per annum.
Winters are cold and damp, and prevailing wind patterns that blow offshore minimize the moderating effects of the Atlantic Ocean; yet the Atlantic and the partial shielding of the Appalachians keep the city warmer in the winter than inland North American cities located at similar or lesser latitudes such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. The average daily high temperature in January, the area’s coldest month, is 38.3 °F (3.5 °C); however, winter temperatures can occasionally reach as low as 0 °F (−18 °C), and January temperatures have reached the low 70s (Fahrenheit). Spring and autumn are unpredictable and can range from chilly to warm, although they are usually mild with low humidity. Summers are typically warm to hot and humid, with an average daily July high temperature of 84.1 °F (28.9 °C). Nighttime conditions are often exacerbated by the urban heat island phenomenon, while daytime temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on average of 17 days each summer and can exceed 100 °F (38 °C). Extreme temperatures have ranged from −15 °F (−26 °C), recorded on February 9, 1934, up to 106 °F (41 °C) on July 9, 1936.
The city receives 49.7 inches (1,260 mm) of precipitation annually, which is fairly spread throughout the year. Average winter snowfall for 1981 to 2010 has been 26.7 inches (68 cm), but this usually varies considerably from year to year. Hurricanes and tropical storms are rare in the New York area, but are not unheard of and always have the potential to strike the area. Hurricane Sandy brought a destructive storm surge to New York City on the evening of October 29, 2012, flooding numerous streets, tunnels, and subway lines in Lower Manhattan and other areas of the city and cutting off electricity in many parts of the city and its suburbs. The storm and its profound impacts have prompted the discussion of constructing seawalls and other coastal barriers around the shorelines of the city and the metropolitan area to minimize the risk of destructive consequences from another such event in the future.
New York City is the most populous city in the United States, with an estimated record high of 8,336,697 residents as of 2012, incorporating more immigration into the city than outmigration 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.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg immediately challenged the Census Bureau’s 2010 population count of 8,175,133 as representing an undercount upon release. This amounts to about 40% of the state of New York’s population and a similar percentage of the metropolitan regional population. In 2006, demographers estimated that New York’s population will reach between 9.2 and 9.5 million by 2030. The city’s population in 2010 was 44% white (33.3% non-Hispanic white), 25.5% black (23% non-Hispanic black), 0.7% Native American and 12.7% Asian.
Hispanics of any race represented 28.6% of the population, while Asians constituted the fastest-growing segment of the city’s population between 2000 and 2010; the non-Hispanic white population declined 3 percent, the smallest recorded decline in decades; and for the first time since the Civil War, the number of blacks declined over a decade. In 2010, the city had a population density of 27,532 people per square mile (10,630/km²), rendering it the most densely populated of all municipalities housing over 100,000 residents in the United States; however, several small cities (of less than 100,000) in adjacent Hudson County, New Jersey are more dense overall, as per the 2000 Census.
Geographically co-extensive with New York County, the borough of Manhattan’s population density of 66,940 people per square mile (25,846/km²) makes it the highest of any county in the United States and higher than the density of any individual American city.
Chinatown, Manhattan (紐約華埠). New York City is home to the largest population of overseas Chinese outside of Asia.
Throughout its history, the city has been a major port of entry for immigrants into the United States; more than 12 million European immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. The term “melting pot” was first coined to describe densely populated immigrant neighborhoods on the Lower East Side. By 1900, Germans constituted the largest immigrant group, followed by the Irish, Jews, and Italians. In 1940, whites represented 92% of the city’s population.