New York, United States: geography and neighborhoods

New York, New York State

New York is the largest city in the United States, the largest financial, political, cultural, scientific, and educational center in the United States (and the world at large).

Founded by the Dutch in 1624, the city received its present name in 1664 in honor of the Duke of York (future King James II of England). To distinguish New York City from its namesake state, it is often referred to as New York City.

New York City is located in the southeast corner of imperial New York State, at the confluence of the Hudson River into the New York Bay. Most of New York City (four of the five boroughs) is located on three islands (Long Island, Manhattan, and Staten Island), with a smaller portion on the mainland.

New York City is characterized by a humid subtropical climate. Winters in the Big Apple are cool and humid, with temperatures in the coldest month, January, usually ranging from -3 to 4°C. In summer, the city is hot and humid, with average July temperatures usually ranging from 20 to 29°C. Rainfall is fairly even throughout the year. From time to time, New York City is hit by the elements, with Hurricane Sandy flooding coastal areas of the city in 2012.

New York City is administratively divided into five boroughs (“boros”): Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

The current borough division was adopted in 1898, during the creation of New York City within its current borders. Before then, only Manhattan was New York City; Brooklyn was an independent city; and the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island were part of different boroughs. Until 1975, the Staten Island area was called “Richmond.

Unlike most U.S. cities, which tend to be located within a single administrative district, each of New York City’s urban areas is a New York State district.

If each of the Big Apple boroughs were an independent city, four of them (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx) would be among the ten most populous cities in the United States.

Manhattan is located almost entirely on the island of the same name (as well as several small islands and, to the very north, the mainland). It is bounded by the waters of the Hudson River to the west and the East River to the east. It is the smallest of all New York City boroughs, but it is also where the city was once founded, home to famous skyscrapers (including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building), Central Park, Grand Central Station, the United Nations Headquarters, world famous museums and concert halls.

Brooklyn is the largest borough of New York City in terms of population. It is located at the southwestern tip of Long Island, separated from Manhattan by the East River and from Staten Island by the Narrows. At the southern end of Brooklyn, on the Atlantic Ocean, are the city’s most popular beaches, including Coney Island, famous for its historic amusement park.

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Queens, the largest of New York City’s boroughs, is located on Long Island north and east of Brooklyn. Queens is said to have the greatest ethnic diversity in the city.

The Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City and the only one located primarily on the mainland. It is home to, among other things, a large zoo and the famous Yankee baseball stadium.

Staten Island is located on the island of the same name in New York Bay. It is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and to Manhattan by a ferry. Staten Island is the most “suburban” of all the districts of New York, low-rise buildings predominate there, and much of the neighborhood is occupied by parks.

New York City neighborhoods
District Area, km 2 Population, people Population density, people/km 2
Manhattan 59 about 1 630 000 approximately 27,500
Brooklyn 183 about 2,560,000 approximately 13,950
Bronx 109 approximately 1,420,000 approximately 13,000
Queens 281 about 2,250,000 about 8,000
Staten Island 151 approximately 480,000 about 3,150

New York City is the largest city in the United States, with more than 8,330,000 people. Population density in New York City is extremely high, about 11,000 people/km2 , and in Manhattan, more than 28,000 people/km2 , higher than anywhere else in the United States.

New York City, along with Newark, Jersey City (both New Jersey cities), and other cities form the urban agglomeration of “Greater New York,” with a population of over 19,000,000 people. Greater New York is the largest metropolitan area in the United States.

New Yorkers include a wide variety of races and ethnicities.

The racial composition of New York City’s population:

  • Whites – about 44%
  • Blacks (African-Americans) – about 26%.
  • Asians – about 14%.
  • Native Americans (Alaska Natives or Eskimos), about 1%.
  • Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, under 1%
  • Other races – more than 15%
  • Hispanic or Latino (any race) – about 29%
  • Non-Hispanic whites – about 33%

Throughout its history, New York has been and remains America’s melting pot, with most legal immigrants arriving (and still arriving) through New York City. More than a third of New Yorkers were born outside the United States. One hundred and seventy languages are spoken in the city, though of course English is the most common.

The largest ethnic groups among New York City’s population:

  • Puerto Ricans – about 9.4%
  • Italians – about 8.2%.
  • Chinese about 5.4%.
  • Irish about 5.2 percent
  • Germans about 3.4%
  • Mexicans – about 3.4%
  • Russians – about 3,0%
  • Poles – about 2,7%
  • Indians – about 2,7%
  • British – about 1,8%
  • Koreans – about 1,1%
  • Greeks – about 1,0%
  • French – about 0,8%
  • Hungarians – about 0,7%
  • Ukrainians – about 0,6%
  • Cubans – about 0.5%
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New York City has the largest Jewish community outside Israel, the Chinese community outside Asia, the Puerto Rican community outside Puerto Rico, and the Italian and African-American communities among all U.S. cities.

The largest groups among New Yorkers in relation to religion:

  • Christians – about 59%, including:
    • Catholics – about 33%.
    • Protestants – about 23%.

    New York City is the center of the American (and, to a large extent, global) economy. It is here, in the “Financial District” of Lower Manhattan, that Wall Street, a name that has become a common noun for the hub of banks and other financial institutions, is located. On Wall Street, among other things, trades the world’s largest stock exchange, the New York Stock Exchange.

    The metropolis of “Greater New York” is home to some of the largest ports in the United States; many major corporations have their headquarters here; the fashion and advertising industries are well developed; and the real estate market is in great demand.

    Along with the “traditional” areas of the economy, New York City is also home to some cutting-edge, modern industries. A significant number of high-tech companies are concentrated near the famous Flatiron Building in Manhattan, which has earned the area the nickname “Silicon Alley” (similar to California’s “Silicon Valley”).

    Tourism plays an important role in the city’s economy. Among other things, some of the world’s most famous museums are located here, first of all – Metropolitan Museum of Art, the permanent collection of which includes more than two million items (paintings, engravings, costumes, weapons, etc ). Excellent collections of relatively recent works of art are on display at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The American Museum of Natural History is very popular (especially with children). New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Jewish Museum, and others are also well known.

    New York City has an extremely interesting and diverse cultural life. The Big Apple (as well as Los Angeles) has an excellent entertainment industry. The best theaters in the country are concentrated here on Broadway, dozens of movies are shot there every year, and numerous exhibitions and festivals are held. A characteristic feature of New York City are the various parades that gather tens of thousands of participants and spectators.

    New York City is home to more than a hundred and twenty institutions of higher education, including Columbia University, a member of the prestigious Ivy League, as well as Barnard College, Fordham University, New York University, New York Institute of Technology, Rockefeller University and many others. In all, more than six hundred thousand students study in the city.

    New York City is the largest center of American sports, both professional and amateur. The headquarters of all Big Four leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) are located here, as well as the soccer MLS. Every major league team plays in the Big Apple (and its suburbs), and there are nine more major league teams here than in any other city in the country: the Yankees and Mets baseball teams; the Giants and Jets soccer teams; the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils hockey teams; the Nets and Knicks basketball teams. Fans of New York teams can be justly proud that the athletes of this city were the first to collect the major trophies of all the “major” leagues.

    New York City is home to the annual United States Open of Tennis, one of the most prestigious Grand Slam tournaments, the world’s largest marathon race, boxing matches (usually held at Madison Square Garden), and many other sporting events.

    New York is home to many of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, one of the symbols of the United States; perhaps America’s most famous skyscrapers, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building; Times Square, also called “the crossroads of the world”; Wall Street, which rivals the City of London for the title of World Financial Center; Central Park, Grand Central Station, Broadway theaters, famous museums, the old Brooklyn Bridge, and much more.

    New York City

    New York City is the largest metropolitan area in the United States, located on the east coast of the continent. More than 8.3 million people live in the city and more than 19 million live in the Greater New York metropolitan area. It is the largest financial, economic, and commercial center of the planet, often called the “capital of the world.” The United Nations headquarters, the famous New York Stock Exchange, and other organizations of global significance are located here.

    The Big Apple

    Probably no city on the globe is as connected to many expectations and hopes as New York City. The famous Statue of Liberty, now one of America’s main symbols, has for years welcomed millions of immigrants seeking a better life in New York. That’s partly why there are so many different nationalities among the locals today, a mix of peoples and cultures that makes the Big Apple a truly unique and distinctive city.

    A Little History

    The city of New York was founded as a small trading settlement by Dutch colonists in 1626 and was originally called New Amsterdam. Interestingly enough, the area of Manhattan at the time was inhabited by Indians who agreed to exchange the island for things that cost only $24 at the time. In 1664, New Amsterdam was captured by English troops, who renamed the city New York in honor of the Duke of York.

    After the United States gained its independence, New York became the first capital of the new country, and on April 30, 1789, the inauguration ceremony of George Washington, the first president of the United States, took place here. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the city’s population began to grow rapidly due to a huge influx of immigrants from all over the world. The growth of the population becomes simply uncontrollable, which leads to a wide spread of crime in New York City.

    In the twentieth century the city becomes the world’s industrial and commercial center, and after World War II – the most important political and economic center of the planet.

    Neighborhoods of New York City

    New York City lies at the mouth of the Hudson River, occupying three islands. Today it is divided into five major boroughs: Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.


    This is the most densely populated borough of New York City, with over 1.6 million people living here. Interestingly, native Manhattanites consider only their home island to be the “real” New York City, and for good reason. This place is the historic center of the city, the real “heart” of New York, the most popular neighborhood among tourists. There is a huge concentration of attractions, such as Broadway, the New York Stock Exchange, Fifth Avenue, the Empire State Building, Central Park and others. Manhattan is conventionally divided into three parts – Upper Manhattan, Downtown and Midtown. For administrative purposes it consists of 12 boroughs including the famous districts of Harlem, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, etc.


    This is the only borough in New York City completely on the mainland, separated from Manhattan by the Harlem River and from Queens by the East River. The borough is located in the northern part of the city and is home to about 1.35 million people. The Bronx is mostly bedroom communities, with only Yankee Stadium, the zoo, and the Botanical Gardens as interesting attractions.


    This borough of New York City is located on Long Island and is the largest in terms of population (about 2.5 million people live here). Brooklyn is often referred to as “the globe in miniature” – Russians, Jews, Italians, Arabs, Indians and many other nationalities are firmly settled here. Brooklyn is home to Brighton Beach, a Russian neighborhood famous for a popular Soviet movie. The famous Brooklyn Bridge, one of the largest suspension bridges in the world, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum, and Coney Island Amusement Park are all worth checking out in the area.


    This borough is the largest of all the boroughs of New York City. Queens is a borough with a very diverse geographic population, with diverse communities of Spanish, Middle Eastern Arabs, Italians, Greeks, African Americans, and many other peoples. In all, Queens is home to about 2 million people.

    At the time of its development, the neighborhood was deliberately divided into seven large residential zones (“townships”), nicknamed “the seven sisters. Each of these zones is carefully planned and has its own parkland and recreational facilities.

    The Queens neighborhood is primarily known to tennis fans as the US Open, one of the Grand Slam tournaments, is held annually at Flushing Meadows Park.

    Staten Island

    This least populated area of New York City is located on the island of the same name and is considered a bedroom community, with a population of about 460,000 people. Visit the Staten Island Zoo, the Verrazano Bridge (one of the largest suspension bridges in the world), or take the Staten Island Ferry that connects the island to Manhattan.

    New York City Transport

    In New York City, public transportation is the most popular way to get around, unlike in most large cities in the United States, where 90% of New Yorkers use their own cars to get around. Naturally, in such a major metropolis the public transportation network is extremely extensive – it includes buses, subways, cabs, the Roosevelt Island aerial tramway, and the Staten Island ferry.

    New York City Subway

    With 26 lines and 468 stations, the New York City subway is currently the largest subway network in the world. The Big Apple subway operates 24 hours a day, and covers four boroughs of the city, with the exception of Staten Island.


    New York City’s extensive bus network includes about 200 regular and about 30 express routes. Nearly 6,000 buses are used daily by about 2 million passengers. Local bus routes are prefixed with the appropriate borough (M for Manhattan, B for Brooklyn, Bx for Bronx, Q for Queens, S for Staten Island), and express routes are prefixed with X.

    New York Taxi

    Cabs in New York City have become one of the city’s full-fledged symbols, with easily recognizable yellow cars at passengers’ disposal day and night. This form of transportation is most popular in Manhattan and airports, while in other areas of the city it’s difficult to catch a cab.


    Famous for its criminal past, New York City today is a pretty safe city. By the way, according to crime statistics for cities with a population over 100 thousand people, New York is in the bottom of the second hundred. However, as in any big city, there are enough problems here, and tourists should be careful. Harlem and the South Bronx are the most “infamous” – tourists are better not to appear here even during the daytime, not to mention at night. The most touristy borough, Manhattan, is considered fairly safe, but visitors should always be careful.

    New York is a fascinating city, you can learn some interesting facts about it in a special selection.

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