What Should I Know About New York?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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New York is one of the fifty states that make up the United States of America and one of the Mid-Atlantic group of five states and our nation’s capital, along with Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. It is bordered to the west by Pennsylvania, Lake Erie, and Ontario, Canada; to the north by Lake Ontario and Ontario and Québec, Canada; on the east by Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Albany is the capital. Other important cities in New York include New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse.

New York is the 30th of the 50 states by size with an area of 47,213.79 square miles (122,283.16 sq km), but ranks 3rd in population with 18,976,457 in the 2000 census. It is seventh among states in population density. The proper name for a resident of New York is a New Yorker, and its nickname is the “Empire State.”


By the time that Europeans arrived in what is now New York State, it was inhabited by the Mohicans near the coast and the Iroquois Confederacy tribes — Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca — farther inland. The first settlement was the Dutch at Fort Orange—now Albany—in 1624. New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island was settled the next year, with an exchange of $24 US Dollars in goods. The Dutch surrendered to the English fleet that entered New York harbor in 1664, and renamed New York for James, the Duke of York, who later became James II.

The Iroquois again aligned themselves with the British in the French and Indian War because the French had assisted rival tribes. With the highest percentage of loyalist colonists, New York’s experience of the American Revolution bore some of the hallmarks of a civil war. Politics within the state legislature led New York to become only the 11th state of the original 13 to enter the union on 26 July 1788.

The state motto of New York is Excelsior, which means “Ever Upward,” and it appears on the state arms which features a ship and sloop in a river setting with a grassy shore in front and mountains and the rising sun behind. On either side stand Liberty and Justice, and an American Eagle surmounts the whole, perched atop a globe. The state flag shows the state arms on a blue field. Other state emblems include the following:

  • State Flower: Rose
  • State Animal: Beaver
  • State Bird: Bluebird
  • State Shell: Bay Scallop
  • State Tree: Sugar Maple
  • State Fish: Trout
  • State Gem: Garnet
  • State Fossil: Sea Scorpion
  • State Insect: Ladybug
  • State Beverage: Milk
  • State Fruit: Apple
  • State Muffin: Apple Muffin

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