Manhattan is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. The borough is coterminous with New York County, founded on November 1, 1683 as an original county of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the East, Hudson, and Harlem Rivers, but also includes several small adjacent islands, as well as Marble Hill, a small neighborhood on the U.S. mainland.
Manhattan is often said to be the economic and cultural center of the United States and serves as home to the United Nations Headquarters. Wall Street, in Lower Manhattan, has been called the financial capital of the world, and is home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. Many multinational media conglomerates are based in the borough. Historically documented to have been purchased by Dutch colonists from Native Americans in 1626 for the equivalent of US$24, Manhattan real estate has since become among the most expensive in the world, with the value of Manhattan Island, including real estate, estimated to exceed US$3 trillion in 2013.
New York County is the most densely populated county in the United States, and is more dense than any individual American city. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a Census-estimated 2013 population of 1,626,159 living in a land area of , or 71,229 residents per square mile (27,502/km²). On business days, the influx of commuters increases that number to over 3.9 million, or more than 170,000 people per square mile. Manhattan has the third-largest population of New York's five boroughs, after Brooklyn and Queens, and is the smallest borough in terms of land area.
Many districts and landmarks in Manhattan have become well known to New York City's approximately 50 million annual visitors. Times Square, iconified as "The Crossroads of the World" and "The Center of the Universe", is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theater District, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world's entertainment industry. The borough hosts many world-renowned bridges, skyscrapers, and parks. Manhattan's Chinatown incorporates the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village is considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. Numerous colleges and universities are located in Manhattan, including Columbia University, New York University, and Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top 35 in the world. The city of New York was founded at the southern tip of Manhattan, and the borough houses New York City Hall, the seat of city government and a National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area that is now Manhattan was long inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans. In 1524, Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano – sailing in service of the French king Francis I – was the first European to visit the area that would become New York City. He entered The Narrows aboard his ship La Dauphine and named the land around Upper New York Harbor "New Angoulême", in reference to the family name of Francis I of France that was derived from Angoulême in France; he sailed far enough into the harbor to sight the Hudson River which he referred to in his report to the French king as a "very big river"; and he named Upper New York Bay the Bay of Santa Margarita – after Marguerite de Navarre – the elder sister of the king.
It was not until the voyage of Henry Hudson, an Englishman who worked for the Dutch East India Company, that the area was mapped. Hudson came across Manhattan Island and the native people living there in 1609, and continued up the river that would later bear his name, the Hudson River, until he arrived at the site of present day Albany.
A permanent European presence in New Netherland began in 1624 with the founding of a Dutch fur trading settlement on Governors Island. In 1625, construction was started on the citadel of Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan Island, later called New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam). Manhattan Island was chosen as the site of Fort Amsterdam, a citadel for the protection of the new arrivals; its 1625 establishment is recognized as the birth date of New York City. According to a letter by Pieter Janszoon Schagen, Peter Minuit and Dutch colonists acquired Manhattan in 1626 from unnamed American Indian people, which are believed to have been Canarsee Indians of the Lenape, in exchange for trade goods worth 60 guilders, often said to be worth US$24, though (by comparing the price of bread and other goods) it actually amounts to around US$1,050 in 2014. According to the writer Nathaniel Benchley, Minuit conducted the transaction with Seyseys, chief of the Canarsees, who were only too happy to accept valuable merchandise in exchange for the island that was actually mostly controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks.
In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant was appointed as the last Dutch Director General of the colony. New Amsterdam was formally incorporated as a city on February 2, 1653. In 1664, the English conquered New Netherland and renamed it "New York" after the English Duke of York and Albany, the future King James II. The Dutch, under Director General Stuyvesant, successfully negotiated with the English to produce 24 articles of provisional transfer, which sought to retain for the extant citizens of New Netherland their previously attained liberties (including freedom of religion) under new colonial English rulers.
The Dutch Republic regained it in August 1673 with a fleet of 21 ships, renaming the city "New Orange". New Netherland was ceded permanently to the English in November 1674 through the Treaty of Westminster, in exchange for Run Island which was the long-coveted last link in the Dutch nutmeg trading monopoly in Indonesia.
American Revolution and the early United States
Manhattan was at the heart of the New York Campaign, a series of major battles in the early American Revolutionary War. The Continental Army was forced to abandon Manhattan after the disastrous Battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776. The city became the British political and military center of operations in North America for the remainder of the war. Manhattan was greatly damaged by the Great Fire of New York during the British military rule that followed. British occupation lasted until November 25, 1783, when George Washington returned to Manhattan, as the last British forces left the city.
From January 11, 1785, to the fall of 1788, New York City was the fifth of five capitals of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, with the Continental Congress meeting at New York City Hall (then at Fraunces Tavern). New York was the first capital under the newly enacted Constitution of the United States, from March 4, 1789, to August 12, 1790, at Federal Hall. Federal Hall was also the site of where the United States Supreme Court met for the first time, the United States Bill of Rights were drafted and ratified, and where the Northwest Ordinance was adopted, establishing measures for adding new states to the Union.
New York grew as an economic center, first as a result of Alexander Hamilton's policies and practices as the first Secretary of the Treasury and, later, with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, which connected the Atlantic port to the vast agricultural markets of the Midwestern United States and Canada. By 1810 New York City, then confined to Manhattan, surpassed Philadelphia as the largest city in the United States.
Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party political machine, began to grow in influence with the support of many of the immigrant Irish, culminating in the election of the first Tammany mayor, Fernando Wood, in 1854. Tammany Hall dominated local politics for decades. Central Park, which opened to the public in 1858, became the first landscaped public park in an American city.
New York City played a complex role in the American Civil War. The city's strong commercial ties to the American South, its growing immigrant population (prior to then largely from Germany and Ireland; beginning in the late 1850s waves of Italian; and Central, and Eastern European Jews began flowing in en-masse), anger about conscription sizzled and resentment at those who could afford to pay $300 to avoid service, led to resentment against Lincoln's war policies, plus the racial element, fomented paranoia about free Blacks taking the poor immigrant's jobs, culminated in the three-day-long New York Draft Riots of July 1863. These intense war-time riots are counted among the worst incidents of civil disorder in American history, with an estimated 119 participants and passersby massacred.
The rate of immigration from Europe grew steeply after the Civil War, and New York became the first stop for millions seeking a new life in the United States, a role acknowledged by the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886, a gift from the people of France. The new European immigration brought further social upheaval. In a city of tenements packed with poorly paid laborers from dozens of nations, the city was a hotbed of revolution (including anarchists and communists among others), syndicalism, racketeering, and unionization.
In 1883, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge established a road connection across the East River. In 1874, the western portion of the present Bronx County was transferred to New York County from Westchester County, and in 1895 the remainder of the present Bronx County was annexed. In 1898, when New York City consolidated with three neighboring counties to form "the City of Greater New York", Manhattan and the Bronx, though still one county, were established as two separate boroughs. On January 1, 1914, the New York state legislature created Bronx County, and New York County was reduced to its present boundaries.
The construction of the New York City Subway, which opened in 1904, helped bind the new city together, as did additional bridges to Brooklyn. In the 1920s, Manhattan experienced large arrivals of African-Americans as part of the Great Migration from the southern United States, and the Harlem Renaissance, part of a larger boom time in the Prohibition era that included new skyscrapers competing for the skyline. New York City became the most populous city in the world in 1925, overtaking London, which had reigned for a century. Manhattan's majority white ethnic group declined from 98.7% in 1900 to 58.3% by 1990.
On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Greenwich Village killed 146 garment workers. The disaster eventually led to overhauls of the city's fire department, building codes, and workplace regulations.
The period between the World Wars saw the election of reformist mayor Fiorello La Guardia and the fall of Tammany Hall after 80 years of political dominance. As the city's demographics stabilized, labor unionization brought new protections and affluence to the working class, the city's government and infrastructure underwent a dramatic overhaul under La Guardia. Despite the Great Depression, some of the world's tallest skyscrapers were completed in Manhattan during the 1930s, including numerous Art Deco masterpieces that are still part of the city's skyline today, most notably the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the GE Building.
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.
In the 1970s, job losses due to industrial restructuring caused New York City, including Manhattan, to suffer from economic problems and rising crime rates. While a resurgence in the financial industry greatly improved the city's economic health in the 1980s, New York's crime rate continued to increase through the decade and into the beginning of the 1990s.
The 1980s saw a rebirth of Wall Street, and Manhattan reclaimed its role at the center of the worldwide financial industry. The 1980s also saw Manhattan at the heart of the AIDS crisis, with Greenwich Village at its epicenter. The organizations Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) were founded to advocate on behalf of those stricken with the disease.
By the 1990s, crime rates started to drop dramatically due to revised police strategies, improving economic opportunities, gentrification, and new residents, both American transplants and new immigrants from Asia and Latin America. Murder rates that had reached 2,245 in 1990 plummeting to 537 by 2008, and the crack epidemic and its associated drug-related violence under greater control. The outflow of population turned around, as the city once again became the destination of immigrants from around the world, joining with low interest rates and Wall Street bonuses to fuel the growth of the real estate market. Important new sectors, such as Silicon Alley, emerged in Manhattan's economy.
On September 11, 2001, two of four hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and the towers subsequently collapsed. 7 World Trade Center collapsed due to fires and structural damage caused by heavy debris falling from the collapse of the Twin Towers. The other buildings within the World Trade Center complex were damaged beyond repair and soon after demolished. The collapse of the Twin Towers caused extensive damage to other surrounding buildings and skyscrapers in Lower Manhattan, and resulted in the deaths of 2,606 people, in addition to those on the planes. Since 2001, most of Lower Manhattan has been restored, but there has been controversy surrounding the rebuilding. However, many rescue workers and residents of the area developed several life-threatening illnesses that have led to some of their subsequent deaths. A memorial at the site was opened to the public on September 11, 2011, and the museum opened in 2014. In 2014, the new One World Trade Center, at and formerly known as the Freedom Tower, became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, while other skyscrapers were under construction at the site.
The Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan began on September 17, 2011, receiving global attention and spawning the Occupy movement against social and economic inequality worldwide.
On October 29 and 30, 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused extensive destruction in the borough, ravaging portions of Lower Manhattan with record-high storm surge from New York Harbor, severe flooding, and high winds, causing power outages for hundreds of thousands of city residents and leading to gasoline shortages and disruption of mass transit systems. The storm and its profound impacts have prompted the discussion of constructing seawalls and other coastal barriers around the shorelines of the borough and the metropolitan area to minimize the risk of destructive consequences from another such event in the future.