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New York State History

History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People


1524—Giovanni da Varrazano sails into New York Harbor

1609—Englishman Henry Hudson reaches the Hudson River

1626—Dutch buy Manhattan Island from the Indians

1664—England captures New Amsterdam, changes name to New York

1776—New York approves the Declaration of Independence

1785—New York becomes the nation’s capitol for five years.

1788—New York becomes the 11th state

1802—West Point Military Academy opens

1825—The Erie Canal opens

1827—Slavery is abolished in New York

1831—New York’s first railroad, the Mohawk and Hudson, opens

1883—The Brooklyn Bridge opens

1886—The Statue of Liberty is dedicated

1901—New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt becomes the 26th president

1909—The NAACP is founded in New York City

1929—The New York Stock Exchange crashes; Great Depression begins

1948—The first state university in New York is established

1952—The United Nations Headquarters is completed in New York City

1960—The New York State Thruway is completed

1993—Terrorist kills six at the World Trade Center

2001—Terrorist hijack and crash two U.S. planes into the World Trade Center

Two of the largest and strongest Indian groups in all of North America lived in the New York area when white settlers arrived.  One group consisted of the Mahican, Montauk, Munsee, and Wappinger tribes while the other was the Iroquois.

In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano sent by France, was the first European to reach the New York Harbor.  Henry Hudson, employed by the Dutch, sailed up the Hudson River in 1609 and there claimed land naming it New Netherland.  The French explorer Samuel de Champlain traded goods among the Indians and claimed the same land for France. 

In 1624, a group from the Netherlands settled Fort Orange (now Albany), the first permanent white settlement in the colony.  Other Dutch groups settled on Manhattan Island.  English colonists also wanted to settle New York.  The Duke of York commanded warships to go against the Dutch.  The Dutch surrendered without a fight and the new English colony became known as New York.

The Revolutionary War began in 1776.  Many New Yorkers disliked British policies.  Others, called Loyalists, supported the British and persuaded the Indians to help fight against the patriots.  Many battles were fought in New York causing over 30,000 people to leave the state during and after the war.

On July 9, 1776, New York approved the Declaration of Independence and organized an independent government.  The Articles of Confederation were accepted on Feb. 6, 1778.  New York ratified the Constitution and became the 11th state of the Union on July 26th, 1778.

In the early 1800s, immigrants entered the United States through New York Harbor, at Ellis Island.  Many people remained in New York City to work on the Erie Canal.  During this time, more people lived in New York that in any other state.

The New York Stock Exchange crashed in October of 1929.  The crash led to the Great Depression.  Businesses closed and people were left without work.  President Franklin Roosevelt, the New York governor, became the U.S. President.  He successfully helped to organize building projects that gave jobs to many people.  These projects were part of a program he called the “New Deal.”

During World War II (1939-1945), factories produced large amounts of war materials.  After the war, the United Nations established its headquarters in New York City.  Two world’s fairs were also held in New York.

Large hydroelectric projects were developed during the 1950s.  In 1961, the Niagara Power Plant opened as one of the largest hydroelectric facilities in the world.  Transportation also improved.  In 1960, New York State Thruway, the world’s longest toll superhighway, was completed.  Many roads were constructed at this time, many stretching into Canada.

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts was also built during the 1960s.  Julliard School of Music, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra are some of these famous institutions.

New York experienced a small depression in 1970.  Many factories closed and about 600,000 people lost their jobs.  Since then, the economy has recovered with growth in service industries.  New York tourism and population has grown as well.  The state ranks second only to California in the number of new immigrants it receives every year.

Recently, New York is faced with the problems of cleaning toxic waste, maintaining extensive roadways, and helping minorities to have a better education and way of life.