Overview

Lady Liberty
Lady Liberty © Rebecca Kennison

New York City is without doubt one of the top urban travel destinations in the world and the city's immortalisation in numerous movies, books and television series ensures that most people are familiar with the many attractions of this famous metropolis. Beyond New York City, however, New York offers prime natural assets like Niagara Falls, a number of beautiful lakes, and some pristine protected wilderness areas, as well as several charming, historic cities.

Until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, most of the area that is now New York was controlled by the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of Native American peoples. Henry Hudson named the Hudson River in 1609 and claimed the area for the Dutch, and 60 years later the British took control and named it New York. For the most part the Native Americans prospered during this time, controlling the lucrative fur trade. A century later, during the French and Indian Wars, the British defeated the French and took control of all of northeast America. The victory was largely thanks to the Iroquois allying themselves with the British and in 1763 all the new British Territory, extending as far as the Mississippi, was declared an Indian reserve. This was short-lived however, as the Iroquois again allied themselves with the British during the War of Independence, and in the reprisals entire communities were wiped out and much of their land was deeded to the revolutionary war veterans.

George Washington was sworn in as the republic's first president in 1789 in New York City. By 1830 the population had exploded to 250,000, but mass immigration didn't start until the 1840s, with the arrival of the Irish. By 1880 the population was 1.2 million. With this abundant labour, vast natural resources and unfettered capitalism New York, and the other Mid-Atlantic States, quickly became one of the most industrialised regions in the world and home to one of it's greatest modern centres, New York City.

Today, New York is a touristic powerhouse, attracting well over 200 million visitors a year and welcoming more international travellers than any other American state. In every way it is a place worth visiting.