New York is similar to Hong Kong in that it could stand by itself as an independent city state due to its massive annual budget in excess of £15 billion – it is one of America’s, and the world’s leaders in finance, tourism and shipping and is considered one of the best addresses for major American corporations and high profile foreign companies. New York, Paris (France) and London are often linked together in prestigious lists.
New York did fall into a manufacturing decline after the Second World War, but it is still the nation’s biggest producer of clothing and the world’s center of communication. The Wall Street stock exchange has a huge impact on the local economy, even though it only employs about 4% of the city’s workforce, because the tax payments bring in 17% of New York’s revenue. As well as the tax revenue benefiting New York as a whole, local bars and restaurants also do well when the city’s big players are doing well.
A whopping 30 million tourist visit New York every year, 10 million of these visit during the Christmas holiday season, so the city benefits greatly from travellers seeking fun, adventure and bargains in the Big Apple. About half of New York’s economy is fuelled by tourism with the benefits reaching 25,000 businesses in New York City.
There have been huge efforts put into cleaning up New York’s waterways and air pollution in the past few years; before these changes were undertaken, New York’s dock area was in a great decline that lasted decades after the main shipping moved to a more modern superport in New Jersey.
Even though there has been a vast clean-up, the narrower streets of the city are a long way from being perfect, potholes abound and floods occur frequently due to the 100+ year old water mains that burst almost every other week. Staten Island used to host the world’s largest garbage dump (Fresh Kills), but that was closed by force in March 2001 due to air pollution – though it did reopen as an emergency dump for the World Trade Center debris.
New York has a poor recycling record, only 13% of its garbage is not dumped in landfill sites around the country. Rudolph W. Giuliani announced the appointment of Kevin Farrell as the 41st Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation in March 1999, he said that, ‘the disposal of waste is obviously the problem.’
Kids used to dive from the piers of the Hudson River as recently as the 1950s, after which it became horribly polluted by industrial waste and 200 million gallons of daily sewage. The sewage problem ceased when a new treatment plant opened on W125th Street in 1986. The two now-closed General Electric manufacturing facilities were the worst polluters of the area, dumping polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs directly into the rivers and killing all the fish.
That is all in the past though, the fish are returning and it is actually possible for anglers to catch blueback herring, yellow perch, striped bass and blue crab in the Hudson River – health official claim that it’s now okay to catch and eat fish from the river, though it isn’t generally advisable to do this frequently, especially if you are a vulnerable health risk due to illness, old age or pregnancy. See http://www.hudsonriver.com
If you are intending to move to, or vacation in New York the real threat of pollution comes from the noise, especially if you hail from quieter corners; car horns, sirens and trucks drive some newcomers to distraction 24 hours a day – but eventually you’ll let yourself be taken over by the chaos and you’ll hardly notice it, at least not until you leave again on vacation.
New York’s weather is usually listed as temperate in travel guides and meteorological surveys, but the truth is the weather can go to extremes to the point where the climate is almost unbearable. New York can have long periods of incomprehensible heat and humidity during the summertime; where in winter, during December, January and February, there can be icy winds of arctic proportions with intermittent days of nearly warm weather.
New York has about 45 inches of rainfall per year, with long stretches of wet weather during November and April. Snow and freezing rain are pretty much always confined to the period between December and February, with the average total being about 30 inches and major blizzards hitting the city about once every four years.
Temperatures can plummet in winter to well below freezing due to high winds and Canadian weather fronts; the strongest of which come across the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. During the summertime New York’s average temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, days can be quite pleasurable until a wave of 60% humidity hits. Generally, like most big cities, the temperature is a little higher in Manhattan as the heat is absorbed by tall buildings, concrete and asphalt. Most New Yorkers will often complain about the humidity rather than the heat.
New York City is mostly made up of 50 islands, besides Manhattan, that span a 309 square-mile area. Some of the islands are basically lumps of rock in the water, but the larger islands include, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island; the three of which make up the western most point of Long Island, something that is not always clear to see when looking at a map.
The Bronx is actually the only borough of New York City that is physically connected by land to the 48 contiguous states of the USA, though officially its border also includes the offshore fishing port of City Island. There are over 500 miles of waterfront in New York City and 6,374 miles of streets.
The slim waterway between Staten Island and Brooklyn (the ‘Narrows’ through which the first Europeans arrived) serves as the seaport entrance to New York harbor; it can also be reached by ships via the Long Island Sound from the north. Two main bodies of water surround Manhattan Island; the Hudson River to the west and the East River to the east – both of these rivers are estuaries and affected by the ocean tides.