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New York is the most populous city in the United States of America and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. The city is referred to as New York City or The City of New York to distinguish it from the State of New York, of which it is a part. A global power city, New York exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The home of the United Nations Headquarters, New York is an important center for international diplomacy and has been described as the cultural capital of the world.
Located on one of the world's largest natural harbors, New York City consists of five boroughs, each of which comprises a state county. The five boroughs—The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island—were consolidated into a single city in 1898. With a Census-estimated 2011 population of 8,244,910 distributed over a land area of just 305 square miles (790 km2), New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. The New York City Metropolitan Area's population is the United States' largest, with 18.9 million people distributed over 6,720 square miles (17,400 km2), and is also part of the most populous combined statistical area in the United States, containing 22.1 million people as of the 2010 Census.
New York traces its roots to its 1624 founding as a trading post by colonists of the Dutch Republic, and was named New Amsterdam in 1626. The city and its surroundings came under English control in 1664 and were renamed New York after King Charles II of England granted the lands to his brother, the Duke of York. New York served as the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790. It has been the country's largest city since 1790. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to America by ship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is a globally recognized symbol of the United States and its democracy.
Many districts and landmarks in New York City have become well known to its approximately 50 million annual visitors. Times Square, iconified as "The Crossroads of the World", is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway theater district, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world's entertainment industry. The city hosts many world renowned bridges, skyscrapers, and parks. New York City's financial district, anchored by Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, functions as the financial capital of the world and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by total market capitalization of its listed companies. Manhattan's real estate market is among the most expensive in the world. Manhattan's Chinatown incorporates the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Providing continuous 24/7 service, the New York City Subway is one of the most extensive rapid transit systems in the world. Numerous colleges and universities are located in New York, including Columbia University, New York University, and Rockefeller University, which are ranked among the top 50 in the world.
New York City is located in the Northeastern United States, in southeastern New York State, approximately halfway between Washington, D.C. and Boston. The location at the mouth of the Hudson River, which feeds into a naturally sheltered harbor and then into the Atlantic Ocean, has helped the city grow in significance as a trading city. Much of New York is built on the three islands of Manhattan, Staten Island, and Long Island, making land scarce and encouraging a high population density.
The Hudson River flows through the Hudson Valley into New York Bay. Between New York City and Troy, New York, the river is an estuary. The Hudson separates the city from New Jersey. The East River—a tidal strait—flows from Long Island Sound and separates the Bronx and Manhattan from Long Island. The Harlem River, another tidal strait between the East and Hudson Rivers, separates most of Manhattan from the Bronx. The Bronx River, which flows through the Bronx and Westchester County, is the only entirely fresh water river in the city.
The city's land has been altered substantially by human intervention, with considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since Dutch colonial times. Reclamation is most prominent in Lower Manhattan, with developments such as Battery Park City in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the natural variations in topography have been evened out, especially in Manhattan.
The city's total area is 468.9 square miles (1,214 km2). 164.1 sq mi (425 km2) of this are water and 304.8 sq mi (789 km2) is land. The highest point in the city is Todt Hill on Staten Island, which, at 409.8 feet (124.9 m) above sea level, is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine. The summit of the ridge is mostly covered in woodlands as part of the Staten Island Greenbelt.
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