Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian-born navigator sailing for France, discovered New York Bay in 1524. Henry Hudson, an Englishman employed by the Dutch, reached the bay and sailed up the river now bearing his name in 1609, the same year that northern New York was explored and claimed for France by Samuel de Champlain.
In 1624 the first permanent Dutch settlement was established at Fort Orange (now Albany). One year later Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians for trinkets worth about 60 Dutch guilders and founded the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (now New York City), which was surrendered to the English in 1664.
New York's extremely rapid commercial growth may be partly attributed to Gov. De Witt Clinton, who pushed through the construction of the Erie Canal (Buffalo to Albany), which was opened in 1825. Today, the 641-mile Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway connects New York City with Buffalo and with Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania express highways. Two toll-free superhighways, the Adirondack Northway (linking Albany with the Canadian border) and the North-South Expressway (crossing central New York from the Pennsylvania border to the Thousand Islands), have been opened.
The great metropolis of New York City is the nerve center of the nation. It is a leader in manufacturing, foreign trade, commerce and banking, book and magazine publishing, and theatrical production. A leading seaport, its John F. Kennedy International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. New York is also home to the New York Stock Exchange, the largest in the world. The printing and publishing industry is the city's largest manufacturing employer, with the apparel industry second.
Nearly all the rest of the state's manufacturing is done on Long Island, along the Hudson River north to Albany, and through the Mohawk Valley, Central New York, and Southern Tier regions to Buffalo. The St. Lawrence seaway and power projects have opened the North Country to industrial expansion and have given the state a second seacoast.
The state ranks sixth in the nation in manufacturing, with 446,200 employees in 2009. The principal industries are printing and publishing, industrial machinery and equipment, electronic equipment, and instruments. The convention and tourist business is also an important source of income.
New York farms produce cattle and calves, corn and poultry, and vegetables and fruits. The state is a leading wine producer.
New York was hit particularly hard by 2012's Superstorm Sandy in late October. The storm was responsible for 60 deaths in the stateâ€”43 in New York City, more than 305,000 houses or apartments in the state were damaged or destroyed, a fire in the Breezy Point section of Queens completely devastated more than 100 homes, and New York City's subway system was crippled by flooded stations. Sandy caused nearly $33 billion in damages in New York.
Major points of interest are Castle Clinton, Fort Stanwix, and Statue of Liberty National Monuments; Niagara Falls; U.S. Military Academy at West Point; National Historic Sites that include homes of Franklin D. Roosevelt at Hyde Park and Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay and New York City; the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls; National Memorials, including Grant's Tomb and Federal Hall in New York City; Fort Ticonderoga; the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; and the United Nations, skyscrapers, museums, theaters, and parks in New York City.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar basketball player;
- Lucille Ball actress;
- Humphrey Bogart actor;
- James Cagney actor;
- Maria Callas opera singer;
- Benjamin N. Cardozo jurist;
- Paddy Chayefsky playwright;
- Peter Cooper industrialist and philanthropist;
- Aaron Copland composer;
- Tom Cruise actor;
- Sammy Davis, Jr. actor and singer;
- Agnes de Mille choreographer;
- Eamon De Valera president of Ireland;
- George Eastman inventor;
- Millard Fillmore president;
- Lou Gehrig baseball player;
- George Gershwin composer;
- Learned Hand jurist;
- Edward Hopper painter;
- Julia Ward Howe poet and reformer;
- Charles Evans Hughes jurist;
- Washington Irving author;
- Henry James novelist;
- John Jay jurist;
- Michael Jordan basketball player;
- Jerome Kern composer;
- Rockwell Kent painter;
- Vince Lombardi football coach;
- Chico, Groucho, Harpo, and Zeppo Marx comedians;
- Herman Melville author;
- Ethel Merman singer and actress;
- Ogden Nash poet;
- Rosie O'Donnell comedian;
- Eugene O'Neill playwright;
- Red Jacket Seneca chief;
- John D. Rockefeller industrialist;
- Norman Rockwell painter and illustrator;
- Mickey Rooney actor;
- Anna Eleanor Roosevelt reformer and humanitarian;
- Franklin D. Roosevelt president;
- Theodore Roosevelt president;
- Jonas Salk polio researcher;
- Margaret Sanger birth control advocate;
- Beverly Sills opera singer;
- Barbara Stanwyck actress;
- RisÃÂ« Stevens opera singer;
- Joe Torre baseball player and manager;
- Richard Tucker tenor;
- Martin Van Buren president;
- Mae West actress;
- Walt Whitman poet;
- Edith Wharton novelist.