“New York is special, New York is different’ cause there’s no place else on earth quite like New York and that’s why I LOVE NEW YORK.” This unofficial state song by Steve Karmen says it all about the beauty and prosperity New York beholds. Being the most important and richest state of U.S, it exerts influence over fashion, technology, finance, education, art and commerce. It’s not only the cultural capital of the world but is also the central nervous system of the world trade and diplomacy. New York has seen many ups and down but has always kept its growth steady. So now you must be thinking, what has made this state shape so well? Was it always the same? Well, for knowing this let’s have a look on some of the most important events in New York’s history.
10. 1788 – New York became the 11th U.S State
July 26, 1788 is a significant day in New York’s history as it was the day when United States constitution was ratified by New York and it became the 11th state of the original thirteen colonies which united together to make United States of America the strongest and most powerful nation in the world. Although initially there was stiff opposition by the Anti-federalists group regarding the adoption of the constitution as they firmly believed that America could not sustain a continental republic. It took almost three years for all the thirteen states to ratify the constitution and New York was the last state to do so. New York today is undoubtedly the most stable state in USA and it would not have been this prosperous if it feared the centralised power and disagreed to ratify the constitution.
9. 1792 – New York Stock Exchange was found
The worlds’ largest stock exchange NYSE started trading commercially way back on May 17th, 1792 on 68 Wall Street under a buttonwood tree. Initially, there were only five securities traded in the New York City and the first listed company on the stock exchange was the Bank of New York. The listing began when 24 stockbrokers and merchants signed an agreement known as Buttonwood agreement in which the trading rules regarding the dealing in bonds and shares were clearly mentioned. Today, NYSE has fully evolved and has become the best financial platform for various industrial brands in the world having US$16.613 trillion market capitalisation. Its origination in NYC will always remain one of the most important events that made New York the financial hub of U.S.A.
8. 1798 – Great Epidemic killed more than 5000 people
In the summer of 1798, yellow fever hit New York’s three major cities concurrently – Boston, Philadelphia and New York City taking the lives of more than 5000 people from July – November. Yellow Fever was a frequent visitor in New York at that time from late 18th century to early 19th century but the year 1798 epidemic was something else. Doctors were totally unaware about the possible cause of this disease and were therefore helpless. As many as 50,000 residents left their respective places to move in the other safe New York cities. The Yellow Fever of 1798 was undoubtedly the greatest epidemic New York has ever seen.
7. 1807 – “North River Steamboat – Clermont” began a new era in transportation from New York
The first commercially successful steamboat “Clermont” was invented by Robert Fulton in New York. He was a mechanical and civil engineer who gave birth to a new era in transportation and became immortal in the history. Although Clermont was not the first ever steamboat built by him but it was indeed the first one that travelled a distance and did not sank which practically made it a huge commercial success. On August 17, 1807, Clermont started its maiden voyage from the dock on the Hudson River in NYC to its destination 150 miles away at Albany. Within 62 hours, Clermont’s trial trip up to the Albany and back was completed and after that the use of steam engine in advanced models, factories and trains secured the day to day life for more than a hundred years.
6. 1832 – Cholera Pandemic kills 3500
On a Sunday in June, 1832 there was a mass panic in New York when cholera epidemic struck the city and half of the city’s population fled to the countryside. The disastrous epidemic claimed lives of nearly 3500 people and caused considerable suffering. The disease showed horrific symptoms and afflicted the victims fairly quickly and doctors couldn’t do anything as they were completely overwhelmed and powerless. Someone waking up healthy could die within hours such was the impact of the prognosis dire which shook the New Yorkers and forced them to move elsewhere. There were several other outbreaks of cholera that emerged before and after that but nothing rivals the “cholera times of 1832.”
5. 1835 – Fire in NYC Financial District destroyed 600 buildings
The intense fire of 1835 often referred to as “The Great Fire 1835” was one of the biggest fire destruction in New York’s history. On the freezing night of December 17th, a quarter of the New York City’s financial district was engulfed in flames when the massive fire reduced approximately 600 buildings to smoking rubble, claiming the lives of two. New York’s volunteer fire departments rushed to the scene and tried real hard to fight the fire but the temperature was below zero degree and the hydrants were already frozen which made their efforts go in vain. The formidable fire show which lasted for several hours was so horrific that it could be seen from Philadelphia. The post destruction claim on insurance companies was so high that many filed for bankruptcy and ruined hundreds of businesses.
4. 1901 – President William McKinley assassinated in Buffalo, New York
On September 6, 1901, the 25th president of United States of America, William McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo, NY by an Anarchist named Leon Czolgosz. After Abraham Lincoln, McKinley was the most popular president of U.S. who won the re-election handily in 1900 and was serving his second presidential term. Mr. President was in New York to attend the Pan-American Exposition which is a world fair for celebrating Americas’ industrial progress and accomplishment. William McKinley was never afraid of potential assassins and was always more than interested to interact with people. He rose to prominence in the 1898 Spanish-American war giving the Americans hope but when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz, it left the people bewildered and dubious about Americas’ future.
3. 1929 – NYSE Crashed – The Great Depression began
The New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929 was the worst financial crisis the world has ever seen and was the key factor which led to the unprecedentedly large economic meltdown known as “The Great Depression.” In 1920’s people did not consider stock market investment a risky venture and it was in 1928 that there was a major boom in the market with more and more people willing to invest whatever little savings they have in the stock exchange. On Thursday, 24th October of the year 1929, investors were taken aback when NYSE crashed down and the stock prices suddenly plummeted, approximately 13 million shares were sold on “Black Thursday” and after four days another steep fall took place on “Black Tuesday” in which $16 billion worth market capitalisation was wiped off from the stocks signalling the start of “The Great Depression.”
2. 1935, 1943 & 1964 – Race Riots in Harlem, New York
Harlem – The Black Mecca is a very large neighbourhood in the New York City and was a very sensitive area in the 20th century because it was famous for Afro-American residential and business centre. The first ever racial riot in New York took place in Harlem in the year 1935 when the rumours about a black teenage shoplifter beaten by a white employee spread like a wildfire claiming the lives of only people, hundreds were injured and $2 million property was destructed. In the year 1943 another riot took place in Harlem which was caused when a white NYPD officer shot a black U.S. army soldier, the situation rapidly escalated and 6 people died, 400 were wounded and $5 million property was damaged. NYC’s third Harlem race riot began soon after a 15 year old black was shot dead by an off duty police officer in 1964 and continued for 6 days resulting in the death of 1 rioter and 143 casualties with over $1 million worth of damages.
1. 2001 – 9/11 Terrorist attacks on World Trade Centre, NYC
September 11, 2001 is the most dreadful day in American history. It was the day when 19 militants most widely associated with the world terrorist group al-Queda hijacked four U.S. airlines with an intention of deliberately crashing them into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in the heart of New York City. This mass murder conspiracy shattered the world from within. It caused extensive death and destruction killing over 3000 innocent people from 57 countries including 400 U.S. fire-fighters, paramedics and police officers. 9/11 attacks triggered major U.S. and world initiatives in combating the world terrorism and even today after 12 long years when you see the images of that massive explosion you feel the pain and fear that dark day inflicted in the lives of New Yorkers.