January 11, 2021 by Ebastores editorial team
Updated August 6, 2021
New York: is there more to this state than the statue of liberty?
Sing along with Emma Lazarus her famous sonnet and welcome the wretched of the earth to a new world and a fresh start.
« Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome. »
Ellis Island might no longer be the door to New York but still lives in the memory of thousands of immigrants seeking happiness in the terra nova. The torch, visible to tourists from around the globe, is a reminder of the inherent values of liberty and the pursuit of happiness upon which the city was founded.
Like the Matryoshka dolls, placed one inside the other, New York is one layer after another. There is always more to the city to be discovered. The further you go, the deeper you dive into the passageways of the city the more you unveil and the more surprised you would be. With thousands of museums, tourist attractions, and natural wonders New York holds the world between its walls.
How this state became into being? What is so special about it? What tales does it narrate? If you have been asking yourself these questions and if the reputation of the state has reached you, and if you adore unearthing mysteries follow this blog post to find out more. Prepare to be awe-stricken!
The past might seem irrelevant for most people living in the present moment and looking towards the future. However, it is a matter of grave importance to be knowledgeable about the past. History is not one campfire story. History bears within its pages watersheds affecting life across the spectrum of time from past to unknown future. Even in the merest of matters such as food, experts trace the genealogy of food habits, recipes, and consumption to deduce about recent and present changes. New York is one metropolitan state ravaging with such data.
1. Prehistoric and European settlements:
The early inhabitants, of the regions known as New York City, were the Lenape. These were the indigenous people of the Northern Eastern Woodlands dwelling in Canada and parts of the United States. They excelled in two major activities and centered their life on them; they were farmers and hunters. Unlike primitive ways of agriculture, the Lenape relied on nearly sophisticated methods.
They used a technique called slash-and-burn or fire-fallow cultivation. They first cut all the plants in a field, and then they burn the biomass to obtain the ash remains full of nutrients. This method guarantees fertile land and inhibits pests’ attacks. This technique paves the way for a diversified and excellent crop. However, the utility of these fields usually lasts for about five years. After continuous cultivation, the soil must be left to recover and so it is imperative to abandon the field for a few years.
The Lenape people were also good hunters. They lived off the rivers and bays of the area, hunting varieties of fish. They enjoyed a balanced diet and had a more improved way of life than the nomadic gatherings.
In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer, landed in New York Harbor. He named the area New Angoulême; in honor of his patron the French king Francis I of the house of Valois-Angoulême. Nevertheless, he did not settle there, instead carried on his journey of exploration.
In 1609, Henry Hudson anchored in the same region while trying to find a route to Asia on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. Noticing the beaver population in the area, Hudson set up the early pillars of the Dutch settlements. The fur of the beaver was at the core of the fashion industry in Europe. Business voyages began to hustle towards the New World.
In 1614, Dutch trading posts began to rapidly spread across the region, notably in present days Albany and Manhattan. The biggest trade colony was New Netherland. Fort Amsterdam was constructed to be the headquarters for the fur trade and the colonial government of New Netherland. The fort paved the way for the foundation of the New Amsterdam colony. Later, the colony was seized by the English invaders and renamed New York. It was named in honor of James the Second of England, Duke of York.
During the American Revolution, Fort Amsterdam, or Fort James as called by the English, hosted frontline rebels. However, against the wishes and efforts of the Continental Army, the city was seized by the British and remained a base of their operations for a while.
With the American victory, the newly drafted constitution chose New York as the first capital of the recently founded United States. The city hosted some of the most important watershed events in the history of the new country. The inauguration of George Washington took place in New York, the first Supreme Court was established there, and the Federal Hall witnessed the signing of the Bill of Rights. New York remained the capital until 1790.
2. The 19th century and The Roaring twenties:
From the early nineteenth century, New York witnessed significant transportation development. Railroads spread insanely linking the city to the Deep South and all states. Steamboats were also widely used. The creation of the Erie Canal provided a route between New York City, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Great Lakes. This opened a huge market for trading agricultural products.
Wealth and progress fueled the establishment of academies, sports teams, and cultural bloom. Progressive parties and intellectuals sprang to support the rights of minorities such as black residents and women.
The civil war affected New York both politically and economically. The city had vital trade ties with the south; that’s why some political figures urged secession. However, the city abided by the declarations of the union. Riots spread and political conflicts ignited, yet they were soon clamped down with the end of the war, the declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the victory of the North.
New York soon became a booming metropolis. Companies and banking institutions rapidly spread across the state luring workers from all the states. Niagara and Buffalo Falls lured factories to the area and hydroelectric power plants contributed to the overall advancement of the city.
The fact that Democrats ruled the city and abolitionist policies were adopted made New York the destination of the huge numbers of the African Diaspora and immigrants from the Great Northward Migration movement in the South. During the roaring twenties, Intellectual movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and Abstract Expressionism were born in these areas. Some of the world’s most famous jazz celebrities were also natives of New York. The city became the world’s first megacity with national and global economic and political influence. Indeed, the city is the dynamic nerve center of the United States. Home to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the United Nations headquarters, it consolidated both financial and geopolitical power.
The stock market crash of 1929 hit the city harshly. However, the great depression was relentlessly fought. The city showcased the provisions and projects of the New Deal. Massive construction, housing, education, and health projects were implemented.
3. Past and present Immigration and immigrants:
Located on the bay of one of the greatest harbors of the world, New York was and is still welcoming thousands of immigrants. Recent statistics show that one-quarter of the state’s population are immigrants, comprising more than one-fourth of the labor force.
New York has the biggest Irish community in the world. The Irish Famine of the mid-nineteenth century resulted in over one million Irish natives traveling to New York. The Irish community was faced with nativism and discrimination. They had clashes with other arriving communities like the Jews.
European immigration escalated significantly starting from the beginning of the twentieth century. Jews fleeing anti-Semitism set sail towards the new world searching for dignity, freedom, and a new life. Eastern Europeans comprised the biggest numbers. Soon, the Jews adapted to the fast pace of the city and immersed themselves in businesses, and became some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the city.
New York, a beacon of hope for those seeking the American dream, has always welcomed immigrants with open arms. The torch of the statue of liberty held high in the skylights the way ahead. Lazarus’s « New Colossus » engraved at the statue’s feet, reminds new arrivals of the ancient promise. The “Mother of Exiles” cry: “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. The poem featured in various artistic works and was quoted in several political speeches and books advocating immigration.
Though about twelve million people sailed towards the New World, anchoring in Ellis Island, the port was shut down in the aftermath of congressional changes. By the mid 20th century, random immigration was no longer accessible, yet, foreigners never stopped looking towards the city.
4. What did immigrants bring to New York?
Rightfully labeled the nation of immigrants, the United States of America is made of and made by immigrants. Like any other thing, food in America is not authentically American. Immigrants brought their food habits and culinary traditions along with them when crossing the Atlantic.
Native Americans offered their local products to the newcomers, such as corn and beans. Englishmen brought with them poultry, swine, honeybees, barley, wheat, and fruit trees. They learned how to combine their products and those offered by the natives to obtain a balanced plain diet.
The Irish immigrants brought some of their dishes as well. Corned beef and cabbage is one Irish native dish. Sauerkraut and frankfurters are two dishes brought by the Germans. While Eastern Europeans brought noodle dishes and pierogi; Jews were followed orthodox food sanctions. They consumed vegetables more than meat. The latter should meet the Jewish slaughtering laws. Gefilte fish is a dish served on Sundays.
Scandinavian immigrants brought several food habits. Smorgasbord is one ethnic dish brought to the states. Italian immigrants brought their famous pizza to the heart of New York City. Besides, African slaves brought their food traditions along with a few plants native to their continent.
Several ethnic groups contributed to the mosaic of food. The French, the Spanish, the Greeks, the modern-day Muslim communities, and others created Creole cuisine. These ethnicities celebrated their heritage and preserved their food traditions which in most cases transformed to be mainstream food. The present-day food sector in New York combines hundreds of foreign cuisines. Native, ethnic, and mixed dishes and cooking methods and recipes are used to obtain rich varied diets.
Geography of New York State: one of the best sceneries on the planet.
New York is located in the Northeastern United States, a region bordered by Canada and the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, New York borders Ontario and Quebec, along with six states and the Atlantic.
Typologically, New York is situated upon a portion of the Appalachian Mountains. A mass of high peaks, hills, and lowlands intertwine. Movements of early ice sheets resulted in the formation of islands, notably Staten Island and Long Island.
Geographical features of New York consist mainly of farms, lakes, rivers, and mountains. Some of the biggest rivers flowing in the area are Delaware, the Hudson, the Susquehanna, Saint Lawrence, and the Mohawk rivers. These and others are tributaries linking the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, and the Atlantic Ocean.
New York enjoys a humid subtropical climate. Summers are relatively hot, while winters are quite cold with constant snowfalls. Rainfalls are plentiful all year round. These conditions provide fertile grounds for agricultural activities. Over 20 percent of the land is used for farming, resulting in a conglomeration of more than 30 farms. The most important plantation in the state includes grapes and apples. Ranked among the first top ten states in agriculture, New York produces huge crops of tomatoes, maple syrup, sweet corn, and wheat… cattle and other meat-producing animals are also generously raised. Most of these crops are linked to historical food options. Roughly estimated, agriculture yields over $42 billion annually.
2. Natural sceneries and other wonders in New York:
Thanks to its topography, climate, and geographical location, New York has some of the most spectacular natural wonders.
· Niagara Falls:is without a doubt on everyone’s bucket list. Niagara falls are a group of three waterfalls. The biggest lies in the Canadian territory, Horseshoe Falls. The other two lie in the American territory, Bride’s Veil, and American Falls. The Falls are awe-striking.
· Grand Canyon of the East:also called Ausable Chasm. This is a charming place for outdoor activities and adventures. Underground rivers, rocks, and incredible sights await nature enthusiasts. With a range of activities offered, a trip to the Grand Canyon could be an excellent recreational moment.
· Saratoga Springs:Saratoga Spa State Park has a few wonderful springs. Each spring has its unique taste and proper healing qualities. The spring of Geyser Island is particularly known for its ability to restore salt in the body! The trail of springs is a walk through heaven.
· The estate of Sonnenberg Gardensdisplays nine gardens, a greenhouse, and a Victorian mansion. This place is the perfect sanctuary to attain serenity and peace of mind.
· Central Park:is probably the most known and noticed park. Located at the heart of Manhattan, it is a joy for the eye amidst the gloomy sights of surrounding buildings. Chess and Checkers House, the Mall, Bethesda Terrace, and the Shakespeare Garden are among the most seducing spots in the park.
· New York Catacombs:one of Manhattan’s landmarks, the Basilica of Saint Peter’s Cathedral harbors the resting places of some of the oldest Catholic New Yorkers. For history nerds, this is the place to delve into mysteries and real underground tunnels and passageways.
· Empire State Building: the most famous landmark of the state, the Empire State Building is an Art Deco skyscraper. It is has been a symbol of the state connoting ambition, the competitive spirit, and an iron will. Standing on one of the observation decks of the building you can see all of the city and beyond.
· Lakes:New York is overloaded with lakes; all of which offer stunning sceneries. There exist hundreds of trails that discover and link these wonderful natural gifs. If you are a hiking person, you will certainly be familiar with these trails. The most distinguished lake, nonetheless, is the conglomeration called Finger Lakes. The name comes from a legend that supposedly confers the creation of the lakes to the fingers of the Great Spirit. The landscape is simply captivating. With the existence of a few museums nearby, one can never grow fed up with this place.
· Ellis Island and the statue of liberty: holding the torch high in the sky, the statue raises a symbol of hope and light in the face of the wretched immigrants. The island harbors a museum capturing some of the defining moments of the nation’s history.
It is an arduous job to pinpoint the landmarks of New York. Most places speak for themselves as their reputation precedes them; others are hidden spots to the outsiders' gaze and reveal themselves only when closely scrutinized. With hundreds of lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and parks, the state is certainly awaiting heaven to be discovered.
New York State: population and culture.
1. Population: American New Yorkers or infiltrated ethnicities?
New York State is one of the most densely populated states of America. Ranking fourth in recent statistics, the state is home to more than 19 million residents. About two-thirds of the population lives in the New York City metropolitan area; which makes it the most dynamic city.
The greatest percentage of the population might be of white Americans; however, different races mingle in the city. The latest census revealed 59.6% to be whites, 14.9% African Americans, 17.6 % Hispanics, and 7.8% Asians.
Jews represent one of the top influencing groups in the state; classified based on religion or ethnicity, they make up a large population. Irish and Italian descendants are the second and third rivalries to the Jews in terms of numbers.
The state is an authentic mosaic of ethnicities. Historical factors might have contributed to this colorful painting. The discovery of the new world has offered endless opportunities for the wretched to start their lives anew and climb the social ladder. The notion of the American dream and the pursuit of happiness added to the curiosity of foreigners to discover the promises of the newfound land.
In recent years, New York, presenting itself as the United States and the world’s most dynamic financial and political center, grabbed the attention of all ambitious people. Modern-day New York is home to thousands of foreigners from several nationalities, either first-generation immigrants,second-generation or newly arrived. This diversity has contributed significantly to the cultural scene of the state.