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History

The earliest people known to have lived in the New York City area were American Indians. Several tribes of the Algonquian family of Indians lived peacefully on the shores of New York Harbor and along the banks of the Hudson and East rivers. The Indians lived in small vil­lages of bark huts. They fished, hunted, grew crops, and trapped animals. They traveled the area's waterways in sturdy canoes.

Exploration. The first European to enter New York Harbor was probably Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer employed by the king of France. Verrazano and his crew landed on Staten Island in 1524, while exploring the North American coast.

In 1609, Henry Hudson reached Manhattan and then sailed up the river that now bears his name. Hudson was an Englishman exploring for the Dutch, and so the Netherlands claimed the territory he had found. The region was later named New Netherland.

Settlement. In 1624, the Dutch West India Company, a trading and colonizing firm, sent the first settlers to Manhattan. In 1625, the settlers laid out a town and build a fort called Fort Amsterdam at the island's southern tip. Soon after Fort Amsterdam was built, the entire settlement was named New Amsterdam.

While New Amsterdam was being established on Manhattan, colonists were also arriving in what is now the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

English rule. The Netherlands and England fought three naval wars between 1652 and 1674. In 1664, Eng­lish warships forced the surrender of New Amsterdam. The Dutch regained the colony a few years later but then gave it to England under the terms of a peace treaty. The English renamed the colony New York.

New York grew quickly under English rule. New York played an important role in the American Colonies' fight for freedom from Britain. In 1765, the Stamp Act Con­gress met in New York to protest against unfair taxes. In 1770, New Yorkers clashed with British soldiers, and one man was killed in the fighting. Soon after the American Revolution began in 1775, American forces took possession of the city. But the British regained New York after the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and held it until the war ended in 1783. In January 1785, New York became the temporary capital of the United States, and Congress met there until August 1790. George Washington was in­augurated in New York as the nation's first president in April 1789.

The growing city. During the 1800`s, thousands of European immigrants arrived in New York City every year - about 1890, most of them went from Germany, Ireland, and other countries of northern and western Europe. After about 1890, most immigrants went from southern and eastern European countries. Many immigrants had difficulty adjusting to the city. They lived in crowded slums and had trouble finding jobs.

Politicians, especially members of the Democratic Party machine in Manhattan called Tammany Hall, offered jobs, gifts, and advice to immigrants. In return, the immigrants voted to keep Tammany Hall in power. But the politicians actually did little to provide the immigrants with better housing, education, and medical care.

Formation of Greater New York. In 1883, engineers completed the Brooklyn Bridge, which provided the first direct link between Manhattan and Brooklyn. In 1898, Brooklyn and several communities in what became the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island were united with Manhattan to form what was called Greater New York. The sprawling new city had more than 3 million residents.

But Manhattan remained the largest and most powerful borough of Greater New York, and so its Tammany Hall organization continued to control city politics. Occasionally, voters became angered enough by the illegal activities of Tammany leaders to elect mayors who promised reform. But none of these reform mayors lasted more than one term—until Fiorello La Guardia be­came mayor in 1934. La Guardia, an honest and outspo­ken reformer, served from 1934 to 1945. Since his ad­ministration, no political machine has been able to control New York politics.

Recent developments. Since the 1940's, New York City has been troubled by many problems. These prob­lems have grown severe since the early 1960's. Air and water pollution have harmed New York City's environ­ment. Roads and mass transportation systems have be­come overcrowded and outdated. Housing shortages have increased. Ethnic conflicts have worsened. New York City has also faced a series of damaging strikes by public employees. Many agencies have been set up to study and deal with New York City's problems.

In 1975, the city's government lacked enough money to pay all its bills for the year. The state legislature helped ease the situation by establishing the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which lent the city some money. The federal government also provided funds. To help pay its expenses during the late 1970's, New York City increased city taxes, eliminated thousands of city government jobs, and reduced city services.

Democrat Edward Koch was elected mayor of New York City in 1977. In 1981, he became the first person ever nominated as mayor by both the Democratic and Republican parties. He easily won reelection. During the 198CS, New York City's economic situation improved. Koch was reelected in 1985. In 1989, David N. Dinkins became the city's first black mayor.

In 1993, a bomb exploded in a car park beneath the World Trade Center. The blast killed six people and in­jured more than 1,000. It caused extensive damage to the building. Seven men were charged with the bomb­ing. Also in 1993, 11 men were charged with planning to bomb various locations in New York City. Many of the charged men were thought to have ties with Arab lands.

 

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