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NYC History

World Trade Center Emergency Information

World Trade Center (1968)

The smallest in area of the five boroughs making up New York City, it consists principally of the island of Manhattan, which runs roughly 13 miles from north to south and two miles from east to west. It isBrooklyn Bridge surrounded by the Harlem River to the northeast and north, the East River to the east, Upper New York Bay to the west. and New York Bay to the South. The borough of Manhattan exist co-extensively with New York county. In addition to the island of Manhattan, it contains several smaller islands, and the neighborhood of Marble Hill which is geographically part of the Bronx.

Manhattan is the site of virtually all of the skyscrapers that are the symbol of New York City, and it is the oldest and densest of the urbanized area. The population of Manhattan is ethnically, religiously, economically and racially diverse. It grew from 33,000 in 1790 to 2.33 million in 1910 to a low of 1.43 million in 1980.

Uncertainty surrounds the origin of the name, which has been variously traced to the Munsee words manahactanienk ("place of general inebriation"), manahatough ("place where timber is procured for bows and arrows"), and menatay ("island"). It is the earliest known Munsee place name, appearing as Manahatta on a map prepared by a Spanish spy of the English court where Henry Hudson was detained before his return to the Netherlands.

Manhattan was the first part of the city to be settled by Europeans when the Dutch East India Company established a permanent outpost on the southeastern most tip of the island in 1624. New Amsterdam fell to the British in 1664, who renamed the settlement New York.

Most of the streets in lower Manhattan are narrow and twisting and reflect their having been laid out before Boston, Philadelphia and Williamsburg even existed. Everything north of Houston Street however is marked by a grid pattern which was adopted in 1807.

Manhattan is in many respects different from the rest of the city, and those differences have been at times a source of friction for New Yorkers. Despite its small size, the borough is the business and financial heart of the United States, as well as the home of most of the institutions, buildings and neighborhoods that have made New York City famous. It is politically more liberal than the city's other boroughs and more affluent.

Early New York City Skyline

In the center of the borough is the idyllic "backyard of New York"; Central Park.  843 acres spanning from 59th street on the south side, to 110th street on the north; from 8th Avenue on the west, and 5th Avenue on the east,  Designed by Frederic Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, 10 million cartloads of stone, earth and topsoil were carted there to create "a specimen of God's handiwork."  Although a model of urban renewal, most do not realize that the land the park was created from, was not uninhabited, but contained many houses and tenements.  The most developed of these was Seneca Village.  Seneca Village was a "town", comprised primarily of black landowners, many of which were "affluent" enough to fulfill the states property ownership qualification, giving them the right to vote.  Seneca Village contained one of the city's few schools for non-whites.  There were at least three houses of worship, including the racially mixed All Angels, which all maintained cemeteries in the Village.  Sad to say, these graves were more than likely left as land fill, as groundskeepers have over time, turned up coffins during routine maintenance.

Manhattan is unlike any other place in the United States, and in all the world only Tokyo and Hong Kong rival it for its intensely concentrated activity. Among the famous neighborhoods in Manhattan are Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chelsea, Morningside Heights, Yorkville, and of course Harlem.

New York City Flag
New York City Flag
Today, Harlem is the home for people of many ethnic backgrounds, but the Village of Harlem was built on backs of thousands of African Americans carving a new home for themselves, with the hopes of leaving Jim Crow south of the Mason-Dixon. At the turn of the century, real estate brokers counting on the massive immigration influx to continue, created hundreds of new homes. With the market bottoming out, came the opportunity for thousands of African Americans from all over the country to make a better life for themselves. By 1920, the area was home to the largest group of descendants of Africans in the United States.

Harlem has an extraordinarily rich heritage in the arts, entertainment and intellectualism. As the village grew, it attracted the leading minds in the African American community. It became a mecca for the artists, thinkers, musicians, intellectuals and writers. Over the decades, political leaders and activists, both locally and globally grew from its boundaries. W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Adam Clayton Powell Sr. and Malcolm X all gave voice to the growing sense of pride and accomplishment. Harlem has always been home to more than music and jazz, it has been the proving grounds for some of the world's greatest literary minds, authors like Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Countee Cullen. In Harlem, history has not repeated itself, nor has it changed; from the Boys Choir of Harlem, to the Schomburg Center for Cultural Research, to Columbia University, Harlem nourishes the mind, the body, and the soul.

The World Trade Center building complex in lower Manhattan, NYC, originally consisted of seven buildings and a shopping concourse. Most prominent were the 110-story, rectangular twin towers, one rising to 1,362 ft (415 m) and the other to 1,368 ft (417 m). Designed by Minoru Yamasaki and Emery Roth, the towers and concourse portion of the center was completed in 1973 at a cost of $750 million. A massive terrorist bomb explosion damaged portions of the complex in 1993. Ten persons were convicted in the bombing in 1995, and the bombing's mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, was tried and convicted in 1998.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists crashed one hijacked U.S. commercial airliner into each tower, as part of the most destructive attack in history on U.S. soil. Later that morning, the twin towers collapsed. The impact of the collapse left a large area of lower Manhattan covered in rubble and debris for blocks around the former Center and caused fires and the collapse of neighboring buildings, including World Trade Center 7, another building in the complex.

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