New York State: Wikis


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State of New York
Flag of New York State seal of New York
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Empire State
Motto(s): Excelsior (Latin)[1]
Ever upward
Map of the United States with New York highlighted
Official language(s) None
Demonym New Yorker
Capital Albany
Largest city New York City
Largest metro area New York metropolitan area
Area  Ranked 27th in the US
 - Total 54,555 sq mi
(141,299 km2)
 - Width 285 miles (455 km)
 - Length 330 miles (530 km)
 - % water 13.3
 - Latitude 40° 30′ N to 45° 1′ N
 - Longitude 71° 51′ W to 79° 46′ W
Population  Ranked 3rd in the US
 - Total 19,541,453 (2009 est.)[2]
18,976,457 (2000)
 - Density 408.7/sq mi  (157.81/km2)
Ranked 7th in the US
 - Highest point Mount Marcy[3]
5,344 ft  (1,629 m)
 - Mean 1,000 ft  (305 m)
 - Lowest point 0 ft  (0 m)
Admission to Union  July 26, 1788 (11th)
Governor David Paterson (D)
Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch (D) [4]
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
U.S. House delegation 27 Democrats,
2 Republicans (list)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Abbreviations NY US-NY

New York (Pronunciation: /njuː ˈjɔrk/; local pronunciation: Listeni /n ˈjɔrk/ or /nɪu ˈjoək/) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States and is the nation's third most populous. The state is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east. The state has a maritime border with Rhode Island east of Long Island, as well as an international border with the Canadian provinces of Ontario to the west, and Quebec to the north. New York is often referred to as New York State to distinguish it from New York City.

New York City, which is geographically the largest city in the state and most populous in the United States, is known for its history as a gateway for immigration to the United States and its status as a financial, cultural, transportation, and manufacturing center. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, it is also a destination of choice for many foreign visitors. Both state and city were named for the 17th century Duke of York, James Stuart, future James II and VII of England and Scotland.

New York was inhabited by the Algonquin, Iroquois, and Lenape Native American groups at the time Dutch and French nationals moved into the region in the early 17th century. First claimed by Henry Hudson in 1609, the region came to have Dutch forts at Fort Orange, near the site of the present-day capital of Albany in 1614. The Dutch colonized the Albany and Manhattan areas in 1624. The British took over Manhattan and the colony by annexation in 1664.

The borders of the British colony, the Province of New York, were roughly similar to those of the present-day state. About one third of all of the battles of the Revolutionary War took place in New York. New York became an independent state on July 9, 1776 and enacted its constitution in 1777. The state ratified the United States Constitution on July 26, 1788 to become the 11th state.



New York covers 54,556 square miles (141,300 km2) and ranks as the 27th largest state by size.[5] The Great Appalachian Valley dominates eastern New York, while Lake Champlain is the chief northern feature of the valley, which also includes the Hudson River flowing southward to the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged Adirondack Mountains, with vast tracts of wilderness, lie west of the valley. Most of the southern part of the state is on the Allegheny Plateau, which rises from the southeast to the Catskill Mountains. The western section of the state is drained by the Allegheny River and rivers of the Susquehanna and Delaware systems. The Delaware River Basin Compact, signed in 1961 by New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the federal government, regulates the utilization of water of the Delaware system. The highest elevation in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.[3]

New York's borders touch (clockwise from the west) two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario, which are connected by the Niagara River); the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada; Lake Champlain; three New England states (Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut); the Atlantic Ocean, and two Mid-Atlantic States, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition, Rhode Island shares a water border with New York.

New York terrain
Map of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers

Contrasting with New York City's urban atmosphere, the vast majority of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. New York's Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the United States. It is larger than the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Olympic National Parks combined.[6] New York established the first state park in the United States at Niagara Falls in 1885. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is a popular attraction. The Hudson River begins with Lake Tear of the Clouds and flows south through the eastern part of the state without draining Lakes George or Champlain. Lake George empties at its north end into Lake Champlain, whose northern end extends into Canada, where it drains into the Richelieu and then the St. Lawrence Rivers. Four of New York City's five boroughs are on the three islands at the mouth of the Hudson River: Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island.

Upstate and downstate are often used informally to distinguish New York City or its greater metropolitan area from the rest of New York state. The placement of a boundary between the two is a matter of great contention.[7] Unofficial and loosely defined regions of Upstate New York include the Southern Tier, which often includes the counties along the border with Pennsylvania.[8] and the North Country, which can mean anything from the strip along the Canadian border to everything north of the Mohawk River.[9]



Lake-effect snow is a major contributor to snowfall totals in western New York.

In general, New York has a humid continental climate, though under the Köppen climate classification, New York City has a humid subtropical climate.[10] Weather in New York is heavily influenced by two continental air masses: a warm, humid one from the southwest and a cold, dry one from the northwest.

The winters are long and cold in the Plateau Divisions of the state. In the majority of winter seasons, a temperature of −13 °F (−25 °C) or lower can be expected in the northern highlands (Northern Plateau) and 5 °F (−15 °C) or colder in the southwestern and east-central highlands (Southern Plateau).

The summer climate is cool in the Adirondacks, Catskills and higher elevations of the Southern Plateau.

The New York City/Long Island area and lower portions of the Hudson Valley have rather warm summers by comparison, with some periods of high, uncomfortable humidity.

The remainder of New York State enjoys pleasantly warm summers, marred by only occasional, brief intervals of sultry conditions. Summer daytime temperatures usually range from the upper 70s to mid 80s °F (25 to 30 °C), over much of the state.

New York ranks 46th among the 50 states in the amount of greenhouse gases generated per person. This efficiency is primarily due to the state's higher rate of mass transit use.[11]

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various New York Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Albany 31/13 34/16 44/25 57/36 70/46 78/55 82/60 80/58 71/50 60/39 48/31 36/20
Binghamton 28/15 31/17 41/25 53/35 66/46 73/54 78/59 76/57 68/50 57/40 44/31 33/21
Buffalo 31/18 33/19 42/26 54/36 66/48 75/57 80/62 78/60 70/53 59/43 47/34 36/24
Long Island 39/23 40/24 48/31 58/40 69/49 77/60 83/66 82/64 75/57 64/45 54/36 44/28
New York City 38/26 41/28 50/35 61/44 71/54 79/63 84/69 82/68 75/60 64/50 53/41 43/32
Rochester 31/17 33/17 43/25 55/35 68/46 77/55 81/60 79/59 71/51 60/41 47/33 36/23
Syracuse 31/14 34/16 43/24 56/35 68/46 77/55 82/60 80/59 71/51 60/40 47/32 36/21
Temperatures listed using the Fahrenheit scale
Source: [2]

State parks

Two major parks in the state are the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park.

New York has many state parks and two major forest preserves. Adirondack Park, roughly the size of the state of Vermont and the largest state park in the United States, was established in 1892 and given state constitutional protection in 1894. The thinking that led to the creation of the Park first appeared in George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature, published in 1864. Marsh argued that deforestation could lead to desertification; referring to the clearing of once-lush lands surrounding the Mediterranean, he asserted "the operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon."

The Catskill Park was protected in legislation passed in 1885,[12] which declared that its land was to be conserved and never put up for sale or lease. Consisting of 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) of land,[12] the park is a habitat for bobcats, minks and fishers. There are some 400 black bears living in the region. The state operates numerous campgrounds and there are over 300 miles (480 km) of multi-use trails in the Park.

The Montauk Point State Park boasts the famous Montauk Lighthouse, commissioned by President George Washington, which is a major tourist attraction and is located in the township of East Hampton, Suffolk County. Hither Hills park offers camping and is a popular destination with surfcasting sport fishermen.


New York in 1777

17th century

During the 17th century, Dutch trading posts established for the trade of pelts from the Lenape, Iroquois and other indigenous peoples expanded into the colony of New Netherlands. The first of these trading posts were Fort Nassau (1614, near present-day Albany); Fort Orange (1624, on the Hudson River just south of the current city of Albany and created to replace Fort Nassau), developing into settlement Beverwijck (1647), and into what became Albany; Fort Amsterdam (1625, to develop into the town New Amsterdam which is present-day New York City); and Esopus, (1653, now Kingston). The success of the patroonship of Rensselaerswyck (1630), which surrounded Albany and lasted until the mid 19th century, was also a key factor in the early success of the colony. The British captured the colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and governed it as the Province of New York.

American Revolution

The Sons of Liberty were organized in New York City during the 1760s, largely in response to the oppresive Stamp Act passed by the British Parliament in 1765. The Stamp Act Congress met in the city on October 19th of that year: a gathering of representatives from across the Thirteen Colonies that set the stage for the Continental Congress to follow. The Stamp Act Congress resulted in the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which was the first written expression by representatives of the Americans of many of the rights and complaints later expresed in the United States Declaration of Independence, including the right to representative government.

The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga provided the cannon and gunpowder necessary to force a British withdrawal from the Siege of Boston in 1775.

New York endorsed the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776.[13] The New York state constitution was framed by a convention which assembled at White Plains, New York on July 10, 1776, and after repeated adjournments and changes of location, terminated its labors at Kingston, New York on Sunday evening, April 20, 1777, when the new constitution drafted by John Jay was adopted with but one dissenting vote. It was not submitted to the people for ratification. On July 30, 1777, George Clinton was inaugurated as the first Governor of New York at Kingston.

The first major battle of the American Revolutionary War after independence was declared – and the largest battle of the entire war – was fought in New York at the Battle of Long Island (a.k.a Battle of Brooklyn) in August of 1776. British victory made New York City their military and political base of operations in North America for the duration of the conflict, and consequently the center of attention for General George Washington's intelligence network.

The notorious British prison ships of Wallabout Bay saw more American combatants die of intentional neglect than were killed in combat in every battle of the war, combined.

The first of two major British armies were captured by the Continental Army at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, influencing France to ally with the revolutionaries.

Four of the Iroquois nations fought on the side of the British; only the Onondagas were allies of the colonists. Many Iroquois were defeated in the Sullivan Expedition of 1779.[14] As Loyalist allies of the losing British, the Iroquois were pushed to Canada after the war. In the treaty settlement, the British ceded most Indian lands to the new United States. Because New York made treaty with the Iroquois without getting Congressional approval, some of the land purchases are the subject of modern-day claims by the individual tribes. More than 5 million acres of former Iroquois territory was put up for sale in the years after the Revolutionary War, leading to rapid development in upstate New York.[15] As per the Treaty of Paris, the last vestige of British authority in the former Thirteen Colonies – their troops in New York City – departed in 1783, which was long afterwards celebrated as Evacuation Day.[16]

Following heated debate, New York was the 11th state to ratify the United States Constitution, on July 26, 1788.[17]

19th century

The creation of the Erie Canal led to rapid industrialization in New York.

Transportation in western New York was difficult before canals were built in the early part of the nineteenth century. The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers could be navigated only as far as Central New York. While the St. Lawrence River could be navigated to Lake Ontario, the way westward to the other Great Lakes was blocked by Niagara Falls, and so the only route to western New York was over land.

Governor DeWitt Clinton strongly advocated building a canal to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie, and thus all the Great Lakes. Work commenced in 1817, and the Erie Canal was finished in 1825. It was considered an engineering marvel. Packet boats traveled up and down the canal with sightseers and visitors on board.[18] The canal opened up vast areas of New York to commerce and settlement. It enabled Great Lakes port cities such as Buffalo and Rochester to grow and prosper. It also connected the burgeoning agricultural production of the Midwest and shipping on the Great Lakes, with the port of New York City. Improving transportation, it enabled additional population migration to territories west of New York.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island immigration footage.ogg
Scenes at the Immigration Depot and a nearby dock on Ellis Island
Ellis Island in 1905

Ellis Island was the main facility for immigrants, entering the United States in the late 19th Century to the mid 20th Century. The facility operated from January 1, 1892, until November 12, 1954. It is owned by the Federal government and is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. It is situated in New York Harbor, between two states and cities, Jersey City, New Jersey and New York City, New York.

More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island, between 1892 and 1954. After 1924, when the National Origins Act was passed, the only immigrants to pass through there were displaced persons or war refugees.[19] Today, over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry to the immigrants, who first arrived in America through the island, before dispersing to points all over the country. Ellis Island was the subject of a border dispute between New York State and New Jersey.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States to mark the Centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The idea of giving a colossal representation of republican virtues to a "sister" republic, across the sea, served as a focus for the republican cause against other politicians. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886.

Liberty Island closed on September 11, 2001; the island reopened in December, the monument reopened on August 3, 2004, but the statue remained closed until the summer of 2009. The National Park Service claims that the statue is not shut because of a terrorist threat, but principally because of a long list of fire regulation contraventions, including inadequate evacuation procedures. The museum and ten-story pedestal are open for visitors, but are only accessible if visitors have a "Monument Access Pass", which is a reservation that visitors must make in advance of their visit and pick up before boarding the ferry. There are a maximum of 3000 passes available each day, with a total of 15,000 visitors to the island daily. The interior of the statue remains closed, although a glass ceiling in the pedestal allows for views of Gustave Eiffel's iron framework of Lady Liberty.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1790 340,120
1800 589,051 73.2%
1810 959,049 62.8%
1820 1,372,851 43.1%
1830 1,918,608 39.8%
1840 2,428,921 26.6%
1850 3,097,394 27.5%
1860 3,880,735 25.3%
1870 4,382,759 12.9%
1880 5,082,871 16.0%
1890 5,997,853 18.0%
1900 7,268,894 21.2%
1910 9,113,614 25.4%
1920 10,385,227 14.0%
1930 12,588,066 21.2%
1940 13,479,142 7.1%
1950 14,830,192 10.0%
1960 16,782,304 13.2%
1970 18,236,967 8.7%
1980 17,558,072 −3.7%
1990 17,990,455 2.5%
2000 18,976,457 5.5%
Est. 2009 19,541,453 [2] 3.0%


New York population density map

As of 2006, New York was the third largest state in population after California and Texas,[20] with an estimated population of 19,541,453 as of July 1, 2009.[2] This represents an increase of 513,481, or 2.7%, since the last census in 2000.[21] It includes a natural increase since the last census of 803,680 people (that is 2,072,765 births minus 1,269,085 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 698,895 people out of the state.[21] Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 876,969 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 1,575,864 people.[21]

In spite of the open land in the state, New York's population is very urban, with 92% of residents living in an urban area.[22]

New York is a slow growing state with a large rate of domestic migration to other states. In 2000 and 2005, more people moved from New York to Florida than from any one state to another.[23] However, New York state is one of the leading destinations for international immigration and thus has the second largest immigrant population in the country (after California) at 4.2 million as of 2008. Although Upstate New York receives considerable immigration, most of the state's immigrants settle in and around New York City, due to its more vibrant economy and cosmopolitan culture.

The center of population of New York is located in Orange County, in the town of Deerpark.[24] New York City and its eight suburban counties (excluding those in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania) have a combined population of 13,209,006 people, or 68.42% of the state's population.[25]

Racial and ancestral makeup

New York population ethnicity map

The major ancestry groups in New York state are African American (15.8%), Italian (14.4%), Irish (12.9%), and German (11.1%).[26] According to a 2004 estimate, 20.4% of the population is foreign-born.

New York is home to the largest African American population and the second largest Asian American population in the United States. In addition it is home to the largest Puerto Rican, Dominican and Jamaican American populations in the continental United States. The New York City neighborhood of Harlem has historically been a major cultural capital for African-Americans of sub-Saharan descent, and Bedford Stuyvesant is the largest such population in the United States.

Queens, also in New York City, is home to the state's largest Asian-American population, and is also the most diverse county in the United States. The second concentration of Asian-Americans is in Manhattan's Chinatown. Queens is home to the largest Andean population (Colombian, Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Bolivian) population in The United States of America.

In the 2000 Census, Italian Americans made up the largest ancestral group in Staten Island and Long Island, followed by Irish Americans. Albany and southeast-central New York also have populations with many of Irish-American and Italian-American descent. In Buffalo and western New York, German Americans are the largest group; in the northern tip of the state, French Canadians are. New York State has a higher number of Italian Americans than any other U.S. state.

6.5% of New York's population were under 5 years of age, 24.7% under 18, and 12.9% were 65 or older. Females made up 51.8% of the population.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 13.61% of the population aged 5 and over speak Spanish at home, while 2.04% speak Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), 1.65% Italian, and 1.23% Russian.[27]


Catholics comprise more than 40% of the population in New York.[28] Protestants are 30% of the population, Jews 8.4%, Muslims 3.5%, Buddhists 1%, and 13% claim no religious affiliation. The largest Protestant denominations are the United Methodist Church with 403,362; the American Baptist Churches USA with 203,297; and the Episcopal Church with 201,797 adherents.[29]

Cities and towns

For Maps and lists of cities, towns, and counties in New York
New York State is made up of nine regions, these include:

The largest city in the state and the most populous city in the United States is New York City, which comprises five counties, the Bronx, New York (Manhattan), Queens, Kings (Brooklyn), and Richmond (Staten Island). New York City is home to more than two-fifths of the state's population.

The ten largest cities are:[30]

  1. New York City (8,274,527)
  2. Buffalo (279,745)
  3. Rochester (211,091)
  4. Yonkers (196,425)
  5. Syracuse (141,683)
  6. Albany (93,523)
  7. New Rochelle (72,967)
  8. Mount Vernon (67,924)
  9. Schenectady (61,280)
  10. Utica (59,336)

The location of these cities within the state stays remarkably true to the major transportation and trade routes in the early nineteenth century, primarily the Erie Canal and railroads paralleling it. Today, Interstate 90 acts as a modern counterpart to commercial water routes.

Grouped by metropolitan statistical area,[31] the twelve largest population centers in the state are:

  1. New York City (18,815,988 in NY/NJ/PA, 12,381,586 in NY)
  2. Buffalo-Niagara Falls (1,128,183)
  3. Rochester (1,030,495)
  4. Albany and the Capital District (853,358)
  5. Poughkeepsie and the Hudson Valley (669,915)
  6. Syracuse (645,293)
  7. Utica-Rome (294,862)
  8. Binghamton (246,426)
  9. Kingston (181,860)
  10. Glens Falls (128,886)
  11. Ithaca (101,055)
  12. Elmira (88,015)

The smallest city is Sherrill, New York, located just west of the Town of Vernon in Oneida County. Albany is the state capital, and the Town of Hempstead is the civil township with the largest population. If it were a city, it would be the second largest in the state with over 700,000 residents.

The southern tip of New York State—New York City, its suburbs including Long Island, the southern portion of the Hudson Valley, and most of northern New Jersey—can be considered to form the central core of the Northeast megalopolis", a super-city stretching from the northern suburbs of Boston south to the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C..


New York quarter, reverse side, 2001.jpg
The New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in the world
Midtown Manhattan in New York City, the largest central business district in the United States

New York's gross state product in 2007 was $1.1 trillion, ranking third in size behind the larger states of California and Texas.[32] If New York were an independent nation, it would rank as the 16th largest economy in the world behind Turkey. Its 2007 per capita personal income was $46,364, placing it sixth in the nation behind Maryland, and eighth in the world behind Ireland. New York's agricultural outputs are dairy products, cattle and other livestock, vegetables, nursery stock, and apples. Its industrial outputs are printing and publishing, scientific instruments, electric equipment, machinery, chemical products, and tourism.

A recent review by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found 13 states, including several of the nation's largest, face budget shortfalls for FY2009. New York faces a deficit that could be as large as $4.3 billion.[33]

New York exports a wide variety of goods such as foodstuffs, commodities, minerals, computers and electronics, cut diamonds, and automobile parts. In 2007, the state exported a total of $71.1 billion worth of goods, with the five largest foreign export markets being Canada ($15 billion), United Kingdom ($6 billion), Switzerland ($5.9 billion), Israel ($4.9 billion), and Hong Kong ($3.4 billion). New York's largest imports are oil, gold, aluminum, natural gas, electricity, rough diamonds, and lumber.

Canada is a very important economic partner for the state. 21% of the state's total worldwide exports went to Canada in 2007. Tourism from the north is also a large part of the economy. Canadians spent US$487 million in 2004 while visiting the state.

New York City is the leading center of banking, finance and communication in the United States and is the location of the New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in the world by dollar volume. Many of the world's largest corporations are based in the city.

The state also has a large manufacturing sector that includes printing and the production of garments, furs, railroad equipment and bus line vehicles. Many of these industries are concentrated in upstate regions. Albany and the Hudson Valley are major centers of nanotechnology and microchip manufacturing, while the Rochester area is important in photographic equipment and imaging.

New York is a major agricultural producer, ranking among the top five states for agricultural products such as dairy, apples, cherries, cabbage, potatoes, onions, maple syrup and many others. The state is the largest producer of cabbage in the U.S. The state has about a quarter of its land in farms and produced US$3.4 billion in agricultural products in 2001. The south shore of Lake Ontario provides the right mix of soils and microclimate for many apple, cherry, plum, pear and peach orchards. Apples are also grown in the Hudson Valley and near Lake Champlain.

New York is the nation's third-largest grape-producing state, behind California, and second-largest wine producer by volume. The south shore of Lake Erie and the southern Finger Lakes hillsides have many vineyards. In addition, the North Fork of Long Island developed vineyards, production and visitors' facilities in the last three decades of the 20th century. In 2004, New York's wine and grape industry brought US$6 billion into the state economy.

The state has 30,000 acres (120 km2) of vineyards, 212 wineries, and produced 200 million bottles of wine in 2004. A moderately sized saltwater commercial fishery is located along the Atlantic side of Long Island. The principal catches by value are clams, lobsters, squid, and flounder. These areas of the economy have been increasing as environmental protection has led to an increase in ocean wildlife.


New York State Thruway
The New York City Subway serves more than 5 million rides on a given week day

New York has one of the most extensive and one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the country. Engineering difficulties because of the terrain of the state and the unique issues of the city brought on by urban crowding have had to be overcome since the state was young. Population expansion of the state generally followed the path of the early waterways, first the Hudson River and then the Erie Canal. Today, railroad lines and the New York State Thruway follow the same general route. The New York State Department of Transportation is often criticized for how they maintain the roads of the state in certain areas and for the fact that the tolls collected along the roadway have long passed their original purpose. Until 2006, tolls were collected on the Thruway within The City of Buffalo. They were dropped late in 2006 during the campaign for Governor (both candidates called for their removal).

In addition to New York City's famous mass transit subway, four suburban commuter railroad systems enter and leave the city: the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, Port Authority Trans-Hudson, and five of New Jersey Transit's rail lines. Many other cities have urban and regional public transportation. In Buffalo, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority runs the Buffalo Metro Rail light-rail system; in Rochester, the Rochester Subway operated from 1927 until 1956 but has fallen into disuse.

Portions of the transportation system are intermodal, allowing travelers to easily switch from one mode of transportation to another. One of the most notable examples is AirTrain JFK which allows rail passengers to travel directly to terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In May 2009 the New York City Department of Transportation under the control of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan banned cars from Times Square. The move designed to reduce pollution and pedestrian accidents looks likely to be implemented permantly, and will last at least until the end of the year.[34] .

Politics and government

Under its present constitution (adopted in 1938), New York is governed by the same three branches that govern all fifty states of the United States: the executive branch, consisting of the Governor of New York and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch, consisting of the bicameral New York State Legislature; and the judicial branch, consisting of the state's highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, and lower courts. The state has two U.S. senators, 29 members in the United States House of Representatives, and 31 electoral votes in national presidential elections (a drop from its 47 votes during the 1940s).

New York's capital is Albany. The state's subordinate political units are its 62 counties. Other officially incorporated governmental units are towns, cities, and villages. New York has more than 4,200 local governments that take one of these forms. About 52% of all revenue raised by local governments in the state is raised solely by the government of New York City, which is the largest municipal government in the United States, whereas New York City houses only 42% of the state population.[35]

The state has a strong imbalance of payments with the federal government. New York State receives 82 cents in services for every $1 it sends in taxes to the federal government in Washington.[36] The state ranks near the bottom, in 42nd place, in federal spending per tax dollar.[37]

Many of New York's public services are carried out by public benefit corporations, frequently called authorities or development corporations. Well known public benefit corporations in New York include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees New York City's public transportation system, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a bi-state transportation infrastructure agency.

New York's legal system is explicitly based on English common Law.

Federal representation

As of the 2000 census and the redistricting for the 2002 elections, the state has 29 members in the United States House of Representatives, and two U.S. senators. New York has 31 electoral votes in national presidential elections (a drop from its 47 votes during the 1940s).

New York is represented by Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in the United States Senate and has 29 representatives to the United States House of Representatives, behind California's 53 congressional districts and Texas' 32 congressional districts.

Capital punishment

Capital punishment was reintroduced in 1995 under the Pataki administration but the statute was declared unconstitutional in 2004, when the New York Court of Appeals ruled in People v. LaValle that it violated the state constitution. The remaining death sentence was commuted by the court to life imprisonment in 2007, in People v. John Taylor, and the death row was disestablished in 2008, under executive order from Governor Paterson. No execution has taken place in New York since 1963. Legislative efforts to amend the statute have failed, and death sentences are no longer sought.[38][39][40]


In the last few decades, New York State has generally supported candidates belonging to the Democratic Party in national elections. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama won New York State by 25 percentage points in 2008, a bigger margin than John Kerry in 2004. New York City is a major Democratic stronghold with liberal politics. Many of the state's other urban areas, such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse are also Democratic. Rural upstate New York, however, is generally more conservative than the cities and tends to favor Republicans. Heavily populated Suburban areas such as Westchester County and Long Island have swung between the major parties over the past 25 years, but more often than not support Democrats.

New York City is the most important source of political fund-raising in the United States for both major parties. Four of the top five zip codes in the nation for political contributions are in Manhattan. The top zip code, 10021 on the Upper East Side, generated the most money for the 2000 presidential campaigns of both George W. Bush and Al Gore.[41]


The University of the State of New York oversees all public primary, middle-level, and secondary education in the state, while the New York City Department of Education manages the public school system in New York City.

At the college level, the statewide public university system is the State University of New York (SUNY). The City University of New York (CUNY) is the public university system of New York City. The SUNY system consists of 64 community colleges, technical colleges, undergraduate colleges and universities. The four university centers are University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo and SUNY Stony Brook.

In addition there are many notable private universities, including the oldest Catholic institution in the northeast, Fordham University. New York is home to both Columbia University and Cornell University, making it the only state to contain more than one Ivy League school. West Point, the service academy of the U.S. Army is located just south of Newburgh, NY on the banks of the Hudson River.


New York hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, the Games known for the USA-USSR hockey game dubbed the "Miracle on Ice" in which a group of American college students and amateurs defeated the heavily-favored Soviet national ice hockey team 4–3 and went on to win the gold medal against Finland. Lake Placid also hosted the 1932 Winter Olympics. Along with St. Moritz, Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria, it is one of the three places to have twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games.

New York is the home of one National Football League team, the Buffalo Bills, (based in the suburb of Orchard Park). Although the New York Giants and New York Jets represent the New York metropolitan area and were previously located in New York City, they play in Meadowlands Stadium, which is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey.There has been much controversy over the building of several building proposals for a new New York Jets football stadium, the owners of the New York Jets were willing to split the $1.5 billion cost of building a new football stadium over Manhattan's West Side rail yards however the proposal never came to fruition.

New York also has two Major League Baseball teams, the New York Yankees (based in The Bronx), and the New York Mets (based in New York City borough Queens). New York is home to three National Hockey League franchises (the New York Rangers in Manhattan, the New York Islanders on Long Island and the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, New York). New York has a National Basketball Association team, the New York Knicks in Manhattan.The former New York Nets from 1968 to 1977 is now titled as a New Jersey team however plans to relocate to New York City are in the works. There are a variety of minor league teams that can be found all through the State of New York such as the Long Island Ducks.

See also


  1. ^ "New York State Motto". New York State Library. 2001-01-29. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Elevations and Distances in the United States". U.S Geological Survey. April 29, 2005. Retrieved November 6, 2006. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Land and Water Area of States (2000)". Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  6. ^ About the Adirondack Park, Adirondack Park Agency. Accessed July 1, 2009.
  7. ^ Eisenstadt, Peter, ed (2005). The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse University Press. pp. 1619. ISBN 0-8156-0808. 
  8. ^ Eisenstadt, Peter, ed (2005). The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse University Press. pp. 1437. ISBN 0-8156-0808. 
  9. ^ Eisenstadt, Peter, ed (2005). The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse University Press. pp. 1119. ISBN 0-8156-0808. 
  10. ^ "Climate of New York". New York State Climate Office - Cornell University. Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  11. ^ The New York Post (2007-06-03). "A Breath of Fresh New York Air". Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  12. ^ a b "Catskill Park History". Retrieved April 11 2008. 
  13. ^ "Declaration of Independence". Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  14. ^ "The Sullivan and Brodhead Expeditions". Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission. Retrieved April 11, 2008. 
  15. ^ Chen, David W. Battle Over Iroquois Land Claims Escalates [1] The New York Times. May 16, 2000. (accessed April 11, 2008)
  16. ^ "Happy Evacuation Day". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved April 12, 2008. 
  17. ^ "New York's Ratification". The U.S. Constitution Online. Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  18. ^ "The Erie Canal: A Brief History". New York State Canals. Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  19. ^ The Brown Quarterly, Volume 4, No. 1 (Fall 2000) – Ellis Island/Immigration Issue
  20. ^ "Estimates of Population Change for the United States and States, and for Puerto Rico and State Rankings: July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006" (Excel Spreadsheet). Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  21. ^ a b c U. S. Census Bureau (2008-12-15). "Cumulative Estimates of the Components of Population Change for the United States, Regions and States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 (NST-EST2008-04)" (CSV). Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  22. ^ New York Fact Sheet: NY agriculture income population food education employment farms top commodities exports counties financial indicators poverty organic farming farm income America USDA
  23. ^ "Domestic Migration Flows for States from the 2005 ACS" (Microsoft Word). Retrieved 2007-10-19. 
  24. ^ "Population and Population Centers by State: 2000" (Text). Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  25. ^ "DP-3. Profile of Selected Economic Characteristics: 2000, Geographic Area: New York". U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  26. ^ Awesome America: New York. RetrieveAugust d 18, 2007.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Egon Mayer, Ph.D.; Barry A. Kosmin, Ph.D, Ariela Keysar, Ph.D. (2001). "American Religious Identification Survey(Key Findings)". The City University of New York. Retrieved January 5, 2007. 
  29. ^ The Association of Religion Data Archives | Maps & Reports
  30. ^ New York: History, Geography, Population, and State Facts —
  31. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 (CBSA-EST2007-01)" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  32. ^ The Bureau of Economic Analysis (2006-08-26). "Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, 2005". Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  33. ^ 13 States Face Total Budget Shortfall of at Least $23 Billion in 2009; 11 Others Expect Budget Problems, 12/18/07, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  34. ^ "New York celebrates new era as cars are banished from Times Square". MailOnline. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  35. ^ Office of the New York State Comptroller (2006-11). "2006 Annual Report on Local Governments" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-11-14. 
  36. ^ New York City Finance Division (2005-03-11). "A Fair Share State Budget: Does Albany Play Fair with NYC?". Retrieved 2006-07-19. 
  37. ^ "Federal Spending in Each State Per Dollar of Federal Taxes FY2005". Tax Foundation. Retrieved April 12 2008. 
  38. ^ Rob Gallagher (2005-10-25). "New York Executions". Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  39. ^ Scott, Brendan (2008-07-24). "GOV PULLS SWITCH ON DEATH CELL". New York Post. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  40. ^ Powell, Michael (2005-04-13). "In N.Y., Lawmakers Vote Not to Reinstate Capital Punishment". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  41. ^ (2005-05-16). "2006 Election Overview: Top Zip codes". Retrieved 2006-07-19. 

External links



Tourism and recreation

Culture and history

Maps and Demographics

Related information

Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Ratified Constitution on July 26, 1788 (11th)
Succeeded by
North Carolina

Coordinates: 43°N 75°W / 43°N 75°W / 43; -75 (New York)

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to New York (state) article)

From Wikitravel

The state of New York [1] is known as the Empire State, and with good reason. As one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States, it has long been counted among the most populous and most influential states.

New York is a state of superlatives. Of course everyone knows the most celebrated city in the world, New York City, and it's certainly a premier travel destination, but the state is so much more than just one famous metropolis. Go beyond the concrete canyons of Manhattan and you'll find a large state with a variety of attractions.

From the magnificent Niagara Falls, to the farms and wineries of the Finger Lakes; from the untamed wilderness of the Adirondacks, to the large and small cities scattered throughout the state; every corner of New York has something you can't find anywhere else.


Some people say that New York has two regions: New York City and "Upstate"—i.e., everything else. In fact, New York is a large state with a number of distinct travel regions.

Metro New York
New York, the largest city in the United States, is possibly the most well known and celebrated city in the world. A city of towering skyscrapers, ethnic diversity, international corporations, and incomparable culture, New York often serves to represent the entire country to foreign visitors.
The Catskills
Largely rural, wild, and mountainous, the Catskills are a popular vacation destination for New Yorkers, but they also have much to offer the traveler from out of state.
The Hudson Valley
The state capital of Albany and its surrounding cities anchor the top of the Hudson Valley, which extends south to the outskirts of the New York City area. Between them is an area that much resembles New England as a cradle of colonial civilization.
The Adirondacks
The Adirondack Mountains are the true wilderness of New York, protected by an enormous state park that encompasses most of the upper third of the state. Only scattered small settlements and the occasional roadway break up the stunning vistas.
The North Country
The North Country is dominated by large open areas between widely spaced cities, with a culture that borrows from neighboring Canada. The St. Lawrence River and its Thousand Islands are a major destination in this region.
Central New York
With hills and rivers, cities and farms, hard work and recreation, Central New York is a microcosm of New York as a whole. Syracuse is the region's cultural and economic center.
The Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes are 11 long, thin bodies of water that provide waterfront activities and sightseeing opportunities. Hundreds of wineries dot the region, and the city of Rochester is a center of industry and innovation.
The Southern Tier
Bordering Pennsylvania's Northern Tier, the Southern Tier is a largely rural area with a few medium-sized cities, but with several cultural and industrial attractions.
The Niagara Frontier
The city of Buffalo and the world-famous Niagara Falls are the major destinations in the Niagara Frontier, but the eastern areas of the region also offer attractions focusing on history, agriculture, industry, and the local waterways.
  • Albany — the state capital, steeped in the history of the state
  • Buffalo — the largest city in upstate New York, home of the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres—and the Buffalo wing
  • Cooperstown — historic town and home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Ithaca — a small town with an attitude and home to Cornell University
  • New York — the Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps, the Town So Nice They Named it Twice
  • Niagara Falls — the "honeymoon capital of the world" thanks to its namesake waterfalls
  • Rochester — an old industrial city with a rich history of innovation and progress; now home to numerous universities and the famous "garbage plate"
  • Saratoga Springs — the "Spa City" famous for its horse races, but also a worthy stop for its offbeat performing arts scene
  • Syracuse — the "Salt City" is known for its industry, and is home to Syracuse University and the Great New York State Fair
  • Adirondack Park — the largest protected area in the United States outside of Alaska
  • Central Park — a huge city park right in the middle of Manhattan
  • Chautauqua Institution — more-or-less a summer camp for adults, founded in 1874
  • Darien Lake — the roller coaster capital of New York
  • Lake George — boating, lakeside activities, and a big amusement park
  • Letchworth State Park — see the Genesee River gorge and its three magnificent waterfalls
  • Thousand Islands — a scenic vacation spot for the rich and famous, right on the Canadian border
  • Turning Stone Resort & Casino — Native American casino resort just off the Thruway



Before European settlement, the area now known as New York was home to a number of Native American tribes. The Iroquois Confederacy (or Haudenosaunee), comprising the Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, and Tuscarora tribes, was a major early exercise in representative democracy.

European settlement of New York began at New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island. From there, Dutch and then English settlers expanded northward along the Hudson River to present-day Albany, then west along the Mohawk River. Sites in this area of New York were pivotal in the Revolutionary War, especially at Saratoga north of Albany, and New York City served briefly as the nation's first capital. Settlement further west was impeded by poor terrain and Indian territories, but by the early 19th century, even those areas were becoming well settled.

A true population explosion was brought on by the construction of the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, completed in 1825. Cities like Rochester grew up almost overnight, able to ship their goods easily to points both east and west, and New York City at the mouth of the Hudson became the young country's busiest and most important harbor.

New York grew and thrived for decades, its cities serving as centers of industry, business, and culture for the entire nation. Even as more and more western areas opened up and began to be settled, New York remained the Empire State. New York Harbor served as the point of entry for countless immigrants after the Civil War, which contributed to a diverse, energetic population.

New York held the title of most populous for over 150 years and has counted numerous important and influential figures among its native sons and daughters. Since the middle of the twentieth century, New York's influence has waned somewhat as California, Texas, and Florida have swelled in population, but New York remains one of the most dominant states in the nation.


There is no concise way to describe the geography of New York, except maybe to say it is "diverse".

The city of New York, a major Atlantic port, is of course at sea level. It serves as a small fulcrum connecting Long Island (to the east) and the rest of the state (to the north)—to reach one from the other, one must pass through New York City. North of the city lies the vast majority of the state, known as "Upstate New York". The land rises as one goes north, following the Hudson River upstream. The river cuts a gorge through these Appalachian highlands, forming a wide river valley. To the west of this valley, the Catskills rise—a "dissected plateau" to geologists, but just "mountains" to laymen. Beyond the Catskills, the terrain drops and levels, forming the rolling hills of the Southern Tier.

North of the Catskills is the Mohawk River valley, which runs from west to east into the Hudson. Further west, you will find the Finger Lakes region, a series of long skinny lakes formed when river valleys were blocked by debris from retreating glaciers. North of the Finger Lakes, between them and Lake Ontario, lie large swaths of lowlands, areas which were once underneath the surface of a much larger, pre-glacial Lake Ontario.

North of the Mohawk valley and east of Lake Ontario, you can find the vast mountain range of the Adirondacks, which gradually give way to the St. Lawrence River valley in the northernmost part of the state.


New York has four distinct seasons.

Upstate New York is well-known for its brutal winters. Although temperatures don't get as low as they do in areas like Minnesota and North Dakota, thanks in part to the giant heat reservoir known as Lake Ontario, that same lake serves to generate plenty of lake-effect snow. The major upstate cities compete each year for the "coveted" Golden Snowball Award for most total inches of snow—one small measure of pride for a city digging itself out from piles of snow several feet deep.

Snow is especially heavy to the east of Lake Ontario. Clouds pick up moisture as they travel over the lake's longest dimension, then dump it all on Watertown as they are forced to rise by the Tug Hill Plateau.

New York City is downright tropical by comparison. With the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, the Big Apple benefits from the warm Gulf Stream waters without having to deal with ocean-effect snow.

Spring in New York tends to start out cold and damp, especially in areas near Lake Ontario, as the Lake's waters have by then been thoroughly chilled by winter. True springtime comes around May, segueing quickly into summer.

Summer features brilliant sun that is only rarely scorching, with occasional heat waves. Humidity is often high but the months are punctuated by spells of lower humidity that bring everyone outside to enjoy the weather.

Leaves start to turn color in September; at their peak, New York's leaf scenery is among the best in the country. By late October, though, it's all over but the raking, and winter begins to set in, with snow often falling by Halloween.


English is spoken throughout the state, as expected. Other languages can be found with varying degrees of regularity in scattered pockets across the state, particularly German, Italian, and Polish. French is sometimes heard in the North Country, due to proximity to Canada, and Spanish is common wherever Hispanics live.

Get in

By plane

International travelers will almost certainly come in via one of New York City's airports; while the major upstate cities have airports that can accommodate international flights, they are now fairly rare. Domestically, travelers will usually be coming from hubs such as Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, or Boston. Flights into the smaller airports will likely connect through the larger ones.

New York City - The Big Three

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK), Jamaica (Queens), Phone: +1 718 244-4444, [2].
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (IATA: EWR), Newark New Jersey, Phone: +1 800 EWR-INFO, [3].
  • LaGuardia Airport (IATA: LGA), Flushing (Queens), Phone: +1 718 533-3400, [4].

Large upstate airports

  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUF), 4500 Genesee St. Cheektowaga, Phone: +1 716 630-6000, [5].
  • Greater Rochester International Airport (IATA: ROC), 1200 Brooks Ave. Rochester, Phone: +1 585 464-6000, [6].
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (IATA: SYR), Colonel Eileen Collins Blvd. Syracuse, Phone: +1 315 454-4330, [7].
  • Albany International Airport (IATA: ALB), 373 Albany Shaker Rd. Albany, Phone: +1 518 242-2200, [8].

New York City metro area smaller airports

  • Long Island MacArthur Airport (IATA: ISP), 100 Arrivals Ave. Ronkonkoma (Islip), Phone: +1 888 LI-AIRPORT, [9].
  • Westchester County Airport (IATA: HPN), 240 Airport Rd. White Plains, +1 914 939-8484, [10].
  • Stewart International Airport (IATA: SWF), 1 Express Dr. Newburgh, +1 845 567-2563, [11].

Southern Tier regional airports

  • Greater Binghamton Airport (IATA: BGM), 2534 Airport Rd. Box 16 Johnson City, +1 607 763-4471, [12].
  • Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (IATA: ITH), 72 Brown Rd. Ithaca, Phone: +1 607 257-0456, [13].
  • Elmira-Corning Regional Airport (IATA: ELM), 276 Sing-Sing Rd. Horseheads, Phone: +1 607 795-0402, [14].

Jamestown (IATA: JHW), Saranac Lake (IATA: SLK), Plattsburgh (IATA: PBG), and Niagara Falls (IATA: IAG) have very small airports with only a few scheduled flights each day. General aviation airports are scattered throughout the state.

By car

The route you take depends on where you're coming from:

  • From Lower Ontario, Toronto, and points west (including Detroit): Take the QEW; it ends at the Peace Bridge (US$3/CA$3) and puts you on I-190 in Buffalo. You could also take the QEW to the 420 (for the Rainbow Bridge (US$2.50 Canada-bound only) to Niagara Falls) or the 405 (for the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge (US$3.25 Canada-bound only) to Lewiston). Both of these will connect up with I-190 as well. Visitors from the Detroit area sometimes cut across Lower Ontario rather than going south around Lake Erie.
  • From Ohio and Western Pennsylvania: I-90 becomes the New York State Thruway (see Get around for details) at the PA-NY border. I-86 splits off shortly before the border, allowing you to avoid tolls.
  • From Pennsylvania and New Jersey: U.S. 219 heads north near Olean, headed for Buffalo. U.S. 15 connects with I-86 in Corning; you can continue north on NY 15 or I-390 to Rochester. I-81 connects with NY17 in Binghamton, headed for Syracuse. I-84 passes through the lower part of the state. I-95 is the major east coast route and passes through New York City.
  • From New England: I-95 connects Boston to New York City; I-90 does the same to Albany. More northern routes are rare.
  • From Quebec: Autoroute 15 is your route south from Montreal; it becomes I-87 at the border.
  • From Eastern Ontario: Highway 401 passes close to the border at the Thousand Islands; take Highway 137 to the Thousand Islands Bridge to pick up I-81.

Get around

New York is a big state, but it's not so big that driving isn't feasible. Even the trip from Buffalo to New York City is only about seven hours—too long for a day trip, certainly, but a weekend trip is doable for the dedicated. An alternative is to take a small regional jet from one of the upstate cities into New York; more expensive, but the trip is only 45-90 minutes in the air. Amtrak also runs trains that connect the five major cities for an in-between solution. If you're headed someplace more out of the way, though, you'll probably need to drive.

By car

Major areas of the state are served by an adequate network of Interstate Highways, supplemented by state routes that run between all but the smallest villages. Expressways are mostly limited to Interstates with a few exceptions.

Expressway exits are numbered sequentially in New York, a fact unremarkable to New Englanders but potentially confusing for everyone else. If you're at Exit 2 and looking for Exit 28, you have a lot farther to go than just 26 miles.

Major routes

The most important highway in New York is the New York State Thruway, which runs on I-90 from the Pennsylvania border in the west, northeast to Buffalo, then east past Rochester, through Syracuse, and to Albany. I-90 continues to Boston while the Thruway picks up I-87 south to New York City. The Thruway, a toll road for most of its length, is the primary route between the major upstate cities and is often used to get to and from New York. Expect to pay about four cents a mile ($11.65 from Buffalo to Albany, for example). Most New Yorkers grumble at the price but pay it anyway for the efficiency the route offers.

A cheaper but slightly slower route to New York City from the west is along I-86, the Southern Tier Expressway. State Route 17, which I-86 is supplanting, is still in the process of being upgraded to Interstate standards; east of Corning you'll encounter a few at-grade intersections, but it's still a quick route, and it's free.

The slowest but most "interesting" route across the state is U.S. Route 20. As a route stretching coast-to-coast across the northern U.S., it covers much of the same ground as Interstate 90 does today. U.S. 20 is much older, though, traveling right through the middle of countless old villages that lie south of the Thruway. It's a simple two-lane highway for most of its length in New York, but if you have the time and the patience, it can be more interesting than the long stretches of nothingness along the Thruway or the Southern Tier Expressway.

I-81 and I-87 are the major north-south routes. I-81 travels south from the Thousand Islands at the Canadian border through Syracuse and Binghamton into Pennsylvania. I-87 (known as the Northway north of Albany) connects Montreal in Quebec with Albany and New York City. I-88 travels diagonally northeast-southwest, providing a connection between Binghamton and Albany. The only significant east-west route across the top of the state is U.S. 11, which diverges from I-81 in Watertown and heads northeast, then east.

In Western New York, Rochester is connected to points south via I-390 to Corning. From Buffalo, travelers can head southwest along I-90 or south along U.S. Route 219, which is currently being upgraded to expressway. (Those heading southeast will take the Thruway to I-390.)

State routes

New York has a good network of state routes, supplemented by county routes in some counties. Most villages are at the intersection of two or more state routes, and signage is usually clear, making it relatively simple to find your way to a particular place. You can be fairly confident that numbered state routes will be well maintained (including plowed in the winter) and rarely too far from civilization. Some interesting itineraries can be devised just by following a particular route wherever it leads.

In general, one- and two-digit state routes will be primary routes, although plenty of exceptions exist; you shouldn't assume anything just from the number. Major cross-state routes include 3, 5, 7, 17, and 104.


Municipalities in New York are well prepared for winter weather, but it can get so severe at times that even their expert crews can't keep up. Pay attention to travel advisories; in New York, if they say stay off the roads, they really mean it! During less severe winter storms, drive slowly and carefully. Follow a snowplow (at a safe distance!) if you can, though watch out for ones dropping salt.

Cell phone service can be spotty in the northern part of the state; be aware that you may not be able to easily call for help on the highways in that region.

A few miscellaneous traffic laws:

  • State law mandates that your headlights must be on if your windshield wipers are running.
  • Drivers and front-seat passengers (and children) must wear seat belts.
  • You are not permitted to use hand-held cellular phones while driving; hands-free phones are permitted.
  • Turning right on red is permitted except where signs indicate otherwise (this is reversed in New York City, however).
  • Vehicles turning left must yield to oncoming traffic unless they have a green left-arrow.
  • The state speed limit is 55 mph, but rural expressways can raise that to 65. Speed limits on surface roads will generally be 30 within cities and villages, except on the outskirts where it might be 35. School zones have a limit of 20 mph during school hours.

By train

Amtrak provides passenger rail service primarily among the "Big Five" cities. Anything outside of the Erie Canal/Mohawk River/Hudson River corridor, though, and you're probably out of luck.

The Lake Shore Limited from Chicago has stops in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Schenectady, and Albany; from there riders can switch trains to Boston or continue (with a stop in Croton-on-Hudson) to New York City's Penn Station. The Empire Service starts in Niagara Falls but follows the same route as the Lake Shore Limited once it gets to Buffalo, with some additional stops along the way. The Maple Leaf is identical to the Empire Service except that it continues across the Canadian border to Toronto.

The Adirondack line travels roughly along I-87 from New York City to Montreal. The Ethan Allen Express splits off from the Adirondack route to go to Vermont instead of Quebec.


There is a lot of sightseeing to be done in New York, the most obvious of which is either in New York City or Niagara Falls. But New York also has some destinations of incredible natural beauty, especially around the Finger Lakes and in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park, in particular, is an incredible gem—it's the largest single park in the continental U.S. and where the art of American painting began.


The natural beauty of the state is diverse, from the incomparable Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth Park, to the mountainous terrain of the Catskills and the Adirondacks, perfect for hiking and camping. The numerous waterways of the state include Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Erie Canal, and the Hudson River, all of which see regular boat traffic throughout the summer months.

Oenophiles can visit one of the top wine regions in the country in the Finger Lakes; the entire region is dotted with small towns and villages of historic character, with almost 100 wineries in between. The region produces perhaps the best Rieslings outside of Germany, and Finger Lakes ice wines are growing in popularity.

None of the upstate cities compare to New York City in profile or in prominence, but each of them has a selection of first-class attractions and amenities sufficient to support tourism, without the crowds and frenetic activity of their larger neighbor.


New York's diversity is on full display when considering its cuisines. New York City, of course, as the point of arrival for so many immigrants, is home to some of the most authentic and most diverse ethnic cuisines in the country. Even upstate, though, in cities not known for their diversity, you can find plenty of variety.

American cuisine is ubiquitous, of course, except perhaps in areas of New York City like Chinatown and Little Italy. Italian food (much of it Americanized, admittedly) is also found throughout the state. Asian cuisines—mostly Chinese and Japanese, but with some Thai and Indian restaurants in the larger cities—are also common. Greek food is readily available, primarily at family restaurants that also serve plenty of American food and a smattering of Italian. Polish specialties can be found in Buffalo, and the North Country has some French-Canadian influence in its cuisine.

Notably, each of the upstate cities seems to have its own unique home-grown dishes. Buffalo is famous for its chicken wings, of course, but also features "beef on weck". Rochester is home to "white hots" and the late-night favorite "garbage plates". Syracuse has salt potatoes, the Utica-Rome area has its "chicken riggies", "spiedies" originated in Binghamton, and Plattsburgh residents favor "Michigan" hot dogs. While perhaps not as famous as Philadelphia's cheese steaks, most of these local favorites are worth trying, if only to get a taste of the local "flavor".

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun

New York State


New York State

  1. The State of New York.

Usage notes

  • Postal abbreviation: NY.
  • "New York State" is used more often than "New York", to distinguish it from New York City.


  • Russian: шт. Нью-Йорк (št. N’ju-Jórk) m., штат Нью-Йорк (štat N’ju-Jórk) m.


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