In 1664, the city was named after then
Duke of York, and future King of England
Charles II, King of England, James's older brother, had named him
proprietor of the former territory of
New Netherlands and its main city of
New Amsterdam, which had recently been seized from the Dutch.
Wisconsinan glaciation, the New York City region was situated at the edge of a large
ice sheet over 1,000 feet (300 m) in depth. The ice sheet scraped away large amounts of
regolith, leaving the
bedrock that serves as the geologic
foundation for much of New York City today. Later on, movement of the ice sheet would contribute to the separation of what are now
Long Island and
precolonial era, the area of present-day New York City was inhabited by
Native Americans, including the
Lenape, whose homeland, known as
Lenapehoking, included Staten Island; the western portion of Long Island, including the area that would become Brooklyn and Queens; Manhattan; the Bronx; and the
Lower Hudson Valley.
The first documented visit into
New York Harbor by a European was in 1524 by
Giovanni da Verrazzano, a
Florentine explorer in the service of the
French crown. He claimed the area for France and named it Nouvelle Angoulême (
is credited with the purchase of the island of Manhattan in 1626.
Spanish expedition led by captain
Estêvão Gomes, a
Portuguese sailing for
Emperor Charles V, arrived in
New York Harbor in January 1525 charted the mouth of the Hudson River, which he named Río de San Antonio (Saint Anthony's River). The
Padrón Real of 1527, the first scientific map to show North America's east coast continuously, was informed by Gomes' expedition and labeled the
Northeastern U.S. as Tierra de Esteban Gómez in his honor.
In 1609, the
Henry Hudson rediscovered the New York Harbor while searching for the
Northwest Passage to the
Orient for the
Dutch East India Company. He proceeded to sail up what the Dutch would name the
North River (now the
Hudson River), named first by Hudson as the Mauritius after
Maurice, Prince of Orange. Hudson's
first mate described the harbor as "a very good Harbour for all windes" and the river as "a mile broad" and "full of fish."
 Hudson sailed roughly 150 miles north,
 past the site of present-day
Albany, in the belief that it might be an oceanic
tributary before the river became too shallow to continue.
 He made a ten-day exploration of the area and claimed the region for the Dutch East India Company. In 1614, the area between
Cape Cod and
Delaware Bay would be claimed by the
Netherlands and called Nieuw-Nederland (
The first non-Native American inhabitant of what would eventually become New York City was
Juan Rodriguez (transliterated to Dutch as Jan Rodrigues), a merchant from
Santo Domingo. Born in
Santo Domingo of
African descent, he arrived in Manhattan during the winter of 1613–1614, trapping for pelts and trading with the local population as a representative of the Dutch.
Broadway, from 159th Street to 218th Street in
Upper Manhattan, is named Juan Rodriguez Way in his honor.
A permanent European presence in New Netherland began in 1624 – making New York the 12th
oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the
continental United States
 – with the founding of a Dutch
fur trading settlement on
Governors Island. In 1625, construction was started on a
Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan Island, later called Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam).
 The colony of New Amsterdam was centered at the site which would eventually become Lower Manhattan. In 1626, the Dutch colonial Director-General
Peter Minuit, acting as charged by the
Dutch West India Company, purchased the island of Manhattan from the Canarsie, a small Lenape band,
 for 60
 (about $1,000 in 2006).
 A disproved legend claims that Manhattan was purchased for $24 worth of glass beads.
Following the purchase, New Amsterdam grew slowly.
 To attract settlers, the Dutch instituted the
patroon system in 1628, whereby wealthy Dutchmen ("patroons", or patrons) who brought 50 colonists to New Netherland would be awarded swathes of land, along with local political autonomy and rights to participate in the lucrative fur trade. This program had little success.
Since 1621, the Dutch West India Company had operated as a monopoly in New Netherland, on authority granted by the
Dutch States General. In 1639–1640, in an effort to bolster economic growth, the Dutch West India Company relinquished its monopoly over the fur trade, leading to growth in the production and trade of food, timber, tobacco, and slaves (particularly with the
Dutch West Indies).
Peter Stuyvesant began his tenure as the last
Director-General of New Netherland. During his tenure, the population of New Netherland grew from 2,000 to 8,000.
 Stuyvesant has been credited with improving law and order in the colony; however, he also earned a reputation as a despotic leader. He instituted regulations on liquor sales, attempted to assert control over the
Dutch Reformed Church, and blocked other religious groups (including
Lutherans) from establishing houses of worship.
 The Dutch West India Company would eventually attempt to ease tensions between Stuyvesant and residents of New Amsterdam.
In 1664, unable to summon any significant resistance, Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam to English troops led by Colonel
Richard Nicolls without bloodshed.
 The terms of the surrender permitted Dutch residents to remain in the colony and allowed for religious freedom.
 The English promptly renamed the fledgling city "New York" after the
Duke of York (the future King James II of England).
 The transfer was confirmed in 1667 by the
Treaty of Breda, which concluded the
Second Anglo-Dutch War.
On August 24, 1673, during the
Third Anglo-Dutch War, Dutch captain
Anthony Colve seized the colony of New York from England at the behest of
Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest and rechristened it "New Orange" after
William III, the
Prince of Orange. The Dutch would soon return the island to England under the
Treaty of Westminster of November 1674.
Several intertribal wars among the Native Americans and some
epidemics brought on by contact with the Europeans caused sizable population losses for the Lenape between the years 1660 and 1670.
 By 1700, the Lenape population had diminished to 200.
 New York experienced several
yellow fever epidemics in the 18th century, losing ten percent of its population to the disease in 1702 alone.
New York grew in importance as a
trading port while under
British rule in the early 1700s. It also became a center of
slavery, with 42% of households holding slaves by 1730, more than any other city other than
Charleston, South Carolina.
 Most slaveholders held a few or several domestic slaves, but others hired them out to work at labor. Slavery became integrally tied to New York's economy through the labor of slaves throughout the port, and the banks and shipping tied to the
American South. Discovery of the
African Burying Ground in the 1990s, during construction of a new
federal courthouse near
Foley Square, revealed that tens of thousands of Africans had been buried in the area in the colonial years.
The 1735 trial and acquittal in Manhattan of
John Peter Zenger, who had been accused of
seditious libel after criticizing colonial governor
William Cosby, helped to establish the
freedom of the press in North America.
 In 1754,
Columbia University was founded under charter by
King George II as King's College in Lower Manhattan.
Stamp Act Congress met in New York in October 1765 as the
Sons of Liberty organized in the city, skirmishing over the next ten years with British troops stationed there. The
Battle of Long Island, the largest battle of the
American Revolutionary War, was fought in August 1776 within the modern-day borough of Brooklyn. After the battle, in which the Americans were defeated, the British made the city their military and political base of operations in North America. The city was a haven for
Loyalist refugees and escaped slaves who joined the British lines for freedom newly promised by the Crown for all fighters. As many as 10,000 escaped slaves crowded into the city during the British occupation. When the British forces
evacuated at the close of the war in 1783, they transported 3,000
freedmen for resettlement in
Nova Scotia. They resettled other
freedmen in England and the
The only attempt at a peaceful solution to the war took place at the
Conference House on Staten Island between American
Benjamin Franklin, and British general
Lord Howe on September 11, 1776. Shortly after the British occupation began, the
Great Fire of New York occurred, a large conflagration on the
West Side of Lower Manhattan, which destroyed about a quarter of the buildings in the city, including
In 1785, the assembly of the
Congress of the Confederation made New York the national capital shortly after the war. New York was the last capital of the U.S. under the
Articles of Confederation and the first capital under the
Constitution of the United States. In 1789, the first President of the United States,
George Washington, was inaugurated; the first
United States Congress and the
Supreme Court of the United States each assembled for the first time, and the
United States Bill of Rights was drafted, all at
Federal Hall on Wall Street.
 By 1790, New York had surpassed
Philadelphia as the largest city in the United States.
Under New York State's gradual
abolition act of 1799, children of slave mothers were to be eventually liberated but to be held in
indentured servitude until their mid-to-late twenties.
 Together with slaves freed by their masters after the Revolutionary War and escaped slaves, a significant free-black population gradually developed in Manhattan. Under such influential
United States founders as
Alexander Hamilton and
John Jay, the
New York Manumission Society worked for abolition and established the
African Free School to educate black children.
 It was not until 1827 that slavery was completely abolished in the state, and free blacks struggled afterward with discrimination. New York interracial abolitionist activism continued; among its leaders were graduates of the African Free School. The city's black population reached more than 16,000 in 1840.
In the 19th century, the city was transformed by development relating to its status as a trading center, as well as by European
 The city adopted the
Commissioners' Plan of 1811, which expanded the city
street grid to encompass all of Manhattan. The 1825 completion of the
Erie Canal through
central New York connected the Atlantic port to the agricultural markets and commodities of the North American interior via the
Hudson River and the
 Local politics became dominated by
Tammany Hall, a
political machine supported by
Several prominent American
literary figures lived in New York during the 1830s and 1840s, including
William Cullen Bryant,
Rufus Wilmot Griswold,
Nathaniel Parker Willis, and
Edgar Allan Poe. Public-minded members of the contemporaneous business elite lobbied for the establishment of
Central Park, which in 1857 became the first landscaped park in an American city.
Great Irish Famine brought a large influx of Irish immigrants, of whom over 200,000 were living in New York by 1860, upwards of a quarter of the city's population.
 There was also extensive immigration from the German provinces, where revolutions had disrupted societies, and Germans comprised another 25% of New York's population by 1860.
Democratic Party candidates were consistently elected to local office, increasing the city's ties to the South and its dominant party. In 1861, Mayor
Fernando Wood called upon the
aldermen to declare independence from Albany and the United States after the South seceded, but his proposal was not acted on.
 Anger at new
military conscription laws during the
American Civil War (1861–1865), which spared wealthier men who could afford to pay a $300 (equivalent to $5,963 in 2017) commutation fee to hire a substitute,
 led to the
Draft Riots of 1863, whose most visible participants were ethnic Irish working class.
 The situation deteriorated into attacks on New York's elite, followed by attacks on black New Yorkers and their property after fierce competition for a decade between Irish immigrants and black people for work. Rioters burned the Colored Orphan Asylum to the ground, with more than 200 children escaping harm due to efforts of the
New York City Police Department, which was mainly made up of Irish immigrants.
 According to historian
James M. McPherson (2001), at least 120 people were killed. In all, eleven black men were lynched over five days, and the riots forced hundreds of blacks to flee the city for
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and New Jersey; the black population in Manhattan fell below 10,000 by 1865, which it had last been in 1820. The white working class had established dominance.
 Violence by longshoremen against black men was especially fierce in the docks area.
 It was one of the worst incidents of civil unrest in American history.
In 1898, the modern City of New York was formed with the
consolidation of Brooklyn (until then a separate city), the County of New York (which then included parts of the Bronx), the County of Richmond, and the western portion of the County of Queens.
 The opening of the
subway in 1904, first built as separate private systems, helped bind the new city together. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the city became a world center for industry, commerce, and communication.
In 1904, the
General Slocum caught fire in the
East River, killing 1,021 people on board. In 1911, the
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the city's worst industrial disaster, took the lives of 146 garment workers and spurred the growth of the
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and major improvements in factory safety standards.
New York's non-white population was 36,620 in 1890.
 New York City was a prime destination in the early twentieth century for African Americans during the
Great Migration from the American South, and by 1916, New York City had become home to the largest urban
African diaspora in North America. The
Harlem Renaissance of literary and cultural life flourished during the era of
Prohibition. The larger economic boom generated construction of
skyscrapers competing in height and creating an identifiable
New York became the most populous urbanized area in the world in the early 1920s, overtaking London. The metropolitan area surpassed the 10 million mark in the early 1930s, becoming the first
megacity in human history.
 The difficult years of the
Great Depression saw the election of reformer
Fiorello La Guardia as mayor and the fall of
Tammany Hall after eighty years of political dominance.
World War II veterans created a post-war economic boom and the development of large
housing tracts in eastern Queens. New York emerged from the war unscathed as the leading city of the world, with Wall Street leading America's place as the world's dominant economic power. The
United Nations Headquarters was completed in 1952, solidifying New York's global
geopolitical influence, and the rise of
abstract expressionism in the city precipitated New York's displacement of
Paris as the center of the art world.
Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the
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 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 that decade and into the beginning of the 1990s.
 By the mid 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. Important new sectors, such as
Silicon Alley, emerged in the city's economy. New York's population reached all-time highs in the
2000 Census and then again in the 2010 Census.
United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the original
World Trade Center
on September 11, 2001.
The city and surrounding area suffered the bulk of the economic damage and largest loss of human life in the aftermath of the
September 11, 2001 attacks when 10 of the 19
terrorists associated with
American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the
World Trade Center and
United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and
later destroyed them, killing 2,192
firefighters, and 71
law enforcement officers who were in the towers and in the surrounding area. The North Tower was subsequently the tallest building ever to be destroyed and still is.
The rebuilding of the area, has created a new
One World Trade Center, and a
9/11 memorial and museum along with other new buildings and infrastructure. The
World Trade Center PATH station, which opened on July 19, 1909 as the Hudson Terminal, was also destroyed in the attack. A temporary station was built and opened on November 23, 2003. An 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2) permanent station designed by
Santiago Calatrava, the
World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the city's third-largest hub, was completed in 2016.
 The new One World Trade Center is the tallest
skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere
 and the
fourth-tallest building in the world by
pinnacle height, with its
spire reaching a symbolic 1,776 feet (541.3 m) in reference to the year of
Occupy Wall Street protests in
Zuccotti Park in the
Financial District of Lower Manhattan began on September 17, 2011, receiving global attention and popularizing the
economic inequality worldwide.