The People

With its early influx of immigrants from all over the world, the people who make up the Empire State are not easily defined. Most of this cultural melting pot—some 90%—is clustered in the major cities, mostly New York City and Buffalo. African-Americans and people of Italian, Irish, and German descent make up the majority of the state’s population; the largest Dominican- and Jamaican-American population in the United States also make New York their home. The New York City borough of Queens holds the state’s largest Asian-American population.

New York City has some of the most focused and energetic people in the country. You may need to live here to get the full picture, but trust us, the city also has its mellow side. Drive around the state, and within short order, the frenetic life of the city is replaced by a laid-back, friendly vibe and the storied skyline transforms to pastoral landscapes.

The Economy

No question that New York City is the banking and finance center in the United States, even in this topsy-turvy economy, and with the New York Stock Exchange, one of the most important in the world. It’s also a major communication and media stronghold, with most of major American TV networks broadcasting from Midtown Manhattan. Publishing is also a big industry in the city. Across the state, agriculture dominates, with dairy, apples, cherries, cabbage, maple syrup, and cheese among the top products. New York also produces an astonishing amount of grapes, and with grapes come wine. From the Finger Lakes to Long Island, vineyards are prevalent throughout, second to California in wine produced. Tourism, education, and electronics round out the industries here.


When it comes to politics, New York leans to the left, with Democratic strongholds in the major cities of New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester. In the rural areas, the political pendulum swings to the right, generally favoring Republicans; in fact, most of upstate New York is Republican, though Albany shifts to match the party of the current governor. New York City serves as a major spot for political fund-raising, and has also hosted both Democratic and Republican conventions. Diverse New York City is also home to the oldest and largest Young Republican Club in the country.


Sports are a year-round extravaganza in New York. There’s plenty of football to enjoy, with three professional teams (Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, and New York Jets—the latter two sharing a new stadium in the Meadowlands, in New Jersey, beginning in 2010). And professional baseball is always an obsession in New York, where both the Yankees and the Mets consistently add top-name players to their rosters (each team now plays in its own recently built state-of-the-art stadium as of 2009). Fans should visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There you’ll find in-depth exhibits of famous players and have the opportunity to relive classic moments in baseball history.

Basketball is popular, too, with the New York Knicks and New York Liberty hooping it up. Each year the state races for the Stanley Cup with three competitive hockey teams: the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders, and the Buffalo Sabres. And don’t forget soccer, which is represented by the New York Red Bulls. Add to that to a plethora of minor league teams in all sports, and you’ll never be without a game to watch.

The Arts

It’s impossible to be culturally bereft in New York. Major cultural institutions hold sway in New York City, including such landmarks as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Natural History. Elsewhere in the state are such unique showcases as the Adirondack Museum, overlooking Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks; the Corning Museum of Glass, with its dazzling collection of historic and modern glass sculptures; and the Strong Museum in Rochester, an imaginative interactive children’s museum with more than 20,000 dolls, dollhouses, and toys.

The state also nurtures a vibrant performing arts scene, filled with opera, dance, and classical music concerts and festivals. New York City venues are landmarks in their own right, and to see a concert at Carnegie Hall or the Metropolitan Opera House is an experience onto itself. Throughout the summer, festivals fill the state’s calendar, from the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown to the Lake George Jazz Festival.

The Media

New York City is the media capital of the country, with dozens of media companies—from print to TV to online—headquartered in Manhattan. Even conservative Fox News is based here. While L.A. still has the major studios, New York has its share of TV tapings (The Martha Stewart Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live, for example) and movies filmed at sites throughout town.

The Outdoors

New York is about much more than the cities that inhabit it; in fact, the state is filled with acres and acres of wilderness, from mountains and valleys to rivers and lakes. And New Yorkers across the state emerge from their urban playground in droves to take part in the abundance of outdoor offerings. New York is home to many state parks that offer plenty of hiking, skiing, swimming, biking, camping—you name it—opportunities. From the spectacular peaks and crystal clear lakes of the Adirondacks and the rushing waterfalls of Watkins Glenn State Park to the streams and trails of the Catskills and white-sand beaches of Jones Beach State Park, outdoors enthusiasts have plenty of spaces to indulge their activities. Add to that long scenic drives in the lush, rolling countryside of the Hudson Valley or the Finger Lakes region, dotted with hamlets and wineries, and any urban stresses you have will melt away.