New York is the largest city in the USA. It lies on the east coast at the mouth of the Hudson and East Rivers, partly on several islands (Manhattan, Long Island, Staten Island...). It is one of the most important financial, industrial, commercial and cultural centres in the world. Its harbour is the second busiest in the world (after Rotterdam). The central area has about 7,5 million inhabitants, the whole metropolitan area (CMSA) about 18 million. 43 % of the inhabitants are white, 25% black and 24% Hispanic.
New York has five boroughs: Manhattan (Harlem is its northern part), Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island (Richmond). The history of New York started in the 17th century, when Dutch settlers bought the island of Manhattan for goods worth 24 dollars (1626). Thez named their settlement in the southernmost tip of the island New Amsterdam, and built a wall along its northern boundary to protect themselves from the Indians. In 1664 New Amsterdam was captured by the British and was re-named New York. In the following centuries New York was growing steadily. Many of the immigrants who entered the USA via its harbour stayed in the city which offered relatively good job opportunities in industry and commerce.
To regulate the city´s growth, a rectangular system of avenues (12, running north to south) and streets (today over 200, running east to west) was laid out. The avenues and streets do not have names, as in most towns. They are numbered, which makes it easy to find one´s way around. Only a couple of streets have their old traditional names: e.g.Wall Street (named after the wooden wall which used to stand there) and Brodway, which follows the course of an old Indian path diagonally across avenues and streets.
5th Avenue, which New York´s busiest shopping street, divides Manhattan into West Side and East Side.
Originally, the town planners did not suggest any open spaces, which was criticized by the inhabitants. That´s why the large Central Park was created in 1857-1873 in the place of a once rocky and swampy no-man´s-land.
North of Central Park lies Harlem with African Amarican population (for a white person it is very risky to go to some parts of Harlem alone, especially in the evening. They say that going beyond 125th street almost equals a suicide.)
So far we have been speaking about Manhattan, as it is the centre of New York. There we can find the most skyscrapers which are so typical of big US cities.
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