The Geographic Factors that Contribute to the Growth of New York City

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The Geographic Factors that Contribute to the Growth of New York City

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Three geographic factors that have led to the development and growth of New York City are the low elevation areas, coastal lying areas (bodies of water such as the Atlantic Ocean, Hudson River, Mohawk River, Genesee River, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, and Lake George, and the sea of humanity. The low-elevation lands facilitate the establishment of agriculture, transport systems, sewerage systems, and infrastructure thus giving a much-needed geographic stimulus in the early days to foster the development and growth of New York. New York’s location to several bodies of water provides favorable conditions for easy sea transport for agriculture, industry, pleasure, and immigration.

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New York City is one of the most successful and business-oriented cities on earth. It began as a small community of Native Americans in pre-historic times, until around 1524 when Italian Giovianni di Verrazzano rediscovered it, ushering in an influx of Dutch, Italian, French, and English settlers in the coming years. Several geographic factors contribute to the development and growth of New York City including the low elevation, coastal location, and human resources as shown by its bountiful population.

The low elevation terrain of New York helps increase the setting up of systems such as transportation, sewerage, and buildings which contribute to the New York’s boom where “the flat to gently-rolling topography of the coastal plain extends westward to the ‘fall line,’ (New York City’s Physical Environment). This geographic factor supplies New York with the best environment to erect a well-functioning city. The lack of mountains and hills allows subway, railroad, and ground lines to pass through the city for efficient moving around since “much of the land area is relatively at low elevation” (Platt 2006). Also, mountainous regions are barriers which prevent or limit easy entrance and exit so that the flat lands help in setting the foundation business and immigration. Agriculture is another important entity which propels New York growth. The Native Americans availed themselves of the land’s nuts, berries, and succulent fruit. Cultivation of these crops has nourished the early Native American population around six thousand years ago when they first arrived (Burrows 2000). The Iroquois, Algoquin, and Lenape tilled the land which yielded “maize, sunflowers, beans, squash, melons, cucumbers, and tobacco” (Burrows 2000).

The prevailing advantage of New York geographically is its proximity to bodies of water that have served in New York’s historical prosperous commerce in agriculture, trade, and immigration. Human and itemized cargo have passed through the Atlantic Ocean through the Hudson River to several New York ports where imports and exports of valuables have caused New York to become one of the most renowned and wealthy cities in the world. Other rivers and lakes which have buoyed up New York’s growing civilization are the Mohawk River, Genesee River, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, and Lake George. The first European settlers were the Dutch who began to put down roots in the Hudson Valley near the harbor. The nearness of the harbor also facilitated industrialization since factories and industrial plants so that import and export of supplies and products can take place smoothly and more cheaply. Hence New York is an established business capital. The Amerindians and early European settlers took advantage of the rivers of New York which were rich in fish and shellfish. The nearby waters gave rise to fertile banks which naturally irrigated the land for abundant agricultural produce.

Immigration occupies a dominant place in boosting New York civilization. Through the waters, the Native Americans (Iroquois, Algoquin, and Lenape), Dutch, French, and English settlers who put down roots around 1614 in Manhattan (Murrin 2008), African slaves between 1626-1827 (Hansen 1998), Irish immigrants who entered between 1845-1850 (Weir 2007), and German immigrants contributed to New York development and affluence. “Irish immigrants congregated …in New York City” (Weir 2007). They arrived in multitudes escaping famine so that “Irish immigration increased significantly from 1845 to 1850 because of the rotting potato blight…which devastated Ireland” (Weir 2007). According to the American Census Bureau, today as at 2010, the demography of New York numbers among the top most populous cities in America, with 8,214, 426 inhabitants. The Empire State is contained in 47,531 square miles and boasts a very high population density of 26,402.9 persons per square mile where 40% of the citizens of New York reside in New York City (Singh 2009 & New York City Quickfacts: US Census Bureau).

The city of New York has been buttressed by these three geographic elements: low elevation, coastal lying area and waters, and people to become wealthy. Its limitless diversity and ready abundance of work force skilled and unskilled, native and foreign have made it desirable in the eyes of those who seek a better standard of living. This growth and development that New York now enjoys did not take place overnight. Through several hundred years, the movement and displacement of people and businesses have contributed expanding New York City into the name it cherishes.

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