From its massive Adirondack State Park to its Empire State Building and the bright lights of Broadway, New York is the center of many industries and, New Yorkers would argue, the world. New York is a Mid-Atlantic state in the northeast U.S. and the nation's third most populous with an estimated 19.5 million people. The state of New York is often referred to as New York State to distinguish it from New York City.
New York City, the largest city in the state and most populous in the United States, comprises five boroughs, but the most-visited and best-known is Manhattan. The city is famous throughout the world as a gateway for immigration to the U.S. and for its global status as a financial, cultural and manufacturing center. As host of the United Nations Headquarters, it’s also important in international affairs. The city’s Times Square is often called "The Crossroads of the World."
New York State is the 27th-largest state by size. Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, with vast tracts of wilderness, are major natural features of the state. New York's borders touch two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario); 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. New York also shares a water border with Rhode Island.
In contrast with New York City's urban environment, the vast majority of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains and lakes. Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the U.S. and roughly the size of Vermont. In fact, it’s larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Olympic National Parks combined. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is a classic destination for honeymooners. Catskill Park is also notable, with 700,000 acres. Montauk Point State Park boasts the famous Montauk Lighthouse, commissioned by George Washington.
The iconic Statue of Liberty, symbol of American democracy and freedom, stands tall along with Ellis Island in New York Harbor between New York and New Jersey. The two structures represent an inspiring attraction for tourists. Ellis Island was the starting point for 12 million immigrants entering the U.S. from 1892 until 1954. Over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry to immigrants who came through Ellis Island. Both the statue and Ellis Island can be reached by ferries that operate in a loop. You can catch the ferries from both New York and New Jersey.
When people refer to New York City, they generally mean Manhattan, but technically the city consists of five boroughs -- The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The city's estimated population exceeds 8 million, and if the boroughs were each independent cities, four of them (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx) would be among the 10 most-populous cities in the country. The Bronx is the northernmost borough, the home of Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo. Brooklyn is the most populous borough and was an independent city until 1898. Brooklyn features a long beachfront and Coney Island, one of the earliest amusement grounds in the country. Queens is the largest borough in terms of land mass and the most ethnically diverse county in the U.S. While it’s predominantly residential, it’s the site of Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, and it annually hosts the U.S. Open tennis tournament. It’s where you’ll find two of the three major airports serving the New York metropolitan area: LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International. Staten Island is the most suburban of the five boroughs. The Staten Island Ferry is a popular tourist attraction because it offers views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and lower Manhattan.
Manhattan is the most densely populated borough. As a financial center, it contains the headquarters of many major corporations, a number of important universities and countless cultural attractions. Despite its reputation for commerce, New York City is also a center for the arts. It’s the second-largest center for the film industry in the country, and it boasts major cultural institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more than 500 art galleries. The city's largest performing arts theaters are known the world over as "Broadway," after the major thoroughfare that crosses the Times Square theater district. LincolnCenter for the Performing Arts is the largest performing arts complex in the United States. Central Park SummerStage presents performances of free plays and music.
Other major tourist stops in the city include the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the New York Botanical Garden, luxury shopping along Fifth and Madison avenues, and events such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is visited by many who stop at the site.
New York is the home of many popular sports teams in professional baseball, football, hockey basketball and soccer. Possibly the most storied franchise in American sports, the New York Yankees, are here, although football’s New York Giants and New York Jets actually play nearby in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
As New York City is a microcosm of the world, the cuisines from every major ethnic group can be found here. Dining options range from storied restaurants run by star chefs, to quaint eateries run by families. Delis and diners, although each a vanishing breed, can still be enjoyed.