Geography and environment of New York City

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The geography and environment of New York City is characterized by its coastal position at the meeting of the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean in a naturally sheltered harbor. The city's geography, with its scarce available land surrounded mostly by water, is a factor in making New York the city with the highest population density in the United States. Environmental issues are chiefly concerned with managing this density, which is also a factor in making New York among the most energy efficient and least automobile-dependent cities in the United States. The city's climate is temperate.

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[edit] Boroughs

Image:5 Boroughs Labels New York City Map Julius Schorzman.png
The five boroughs: 1: Manhattan, 2: Brooklyn,
3: Queens, 4: Bronx, 5: Staten Island

New York City, officially the "City of New York", is comprised of the Five Boroughs and is divided into 59 community districts. Throughout the boroughs there are hundreds of distinct neighborhoods, many with a definable history and character all their own. If the boroughs were independent cities, each would be among the 50 most populous cities in the United States.

Manhattan (New York County, pop. 1,593,200<ref name="census" />) is the business center of the city, and the most superlatively urban of the boroughs. It is the most densely populated, and the home of most of the city's skyscrapers. It is loosely divided into downtown, midtown, and uptown regions.

The Bronx (Bronx County, pop. 1,357,589<ref name="census" />) is known as the birthplace of hip hop culture<ref>David Toop (1984/1991). Rap Attack II: African Rap To Global Hip Hop. New York. New York: Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-243-2.</ref>, as well as the home of the New York Yankees and the largest cooperatively owned housing complex in the United States, Co-op City. Excluding its minor islands, the Bronx is the only borough of the city that is on the mainland of the United States.

Brooklyn (Kings County, pop. 2,486,235<ref name="census" />), the most populous borough, was until 1898 an independent city and has a strong native identity. It ranges from a modern business district downtown to large historic residential neighborhoods in the central and south-eastern areas. It also features a long beachfront and Coney Island, famous as one of the earliest amusement grounds in the country.

Queens (Queens County, pop. 2,241,600<ref name="census" />) is geographically the largest borough and, according to the US census, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.<ref name="queensdiverse">O'Donnell, Michelle. "In Queens, It's the Glorious 4th, and 6th, and 16th, and 25th...", New York Times, 2006-07-04. Retrieved on [[2006-07-19]].</ref> Prior to consolidation with New York City it was composed of small towns and villages founded by the Dutch. It is home to the New York Mets, two of the region's three major airports, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, site of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs.

Staten Island (Richmond County, pop. 464,573<ref name="census" />) is the most suburban in character of the five boroughs, but has gradually integrated with the rest of the city since the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, an event that caused controversy and even an attempt at secession. Until 2001, Staten Island was the home of the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill, formerly the largest landfill in the world, and now being reconstructed as one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

[edit] Climate

New York City has a Humid continental climate, vastly affected by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. New York City's climate patterns are affected by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, a 70-year-long warming and cooling cycle in the Atlantic that influences the frequency and severity of hurricanes and coastal storms.

  • Winters are typically cold. Temperatures below 0 °F only occur about once per decade on average, but temperatures in the 10s and 20s (down to -10 °C) are quite common at the height of winter. New York winters sometimes feature snowstorms that can paralyze the city with over a foot of snow. However, variation in the climate also occasionally renders winter mild and almost snowless (such as in 1997-98).
  • Springs are mild, averaging in the 50s °F (10 to 15 °C) in late March to the lower 80s °F (25-30 °C) in early June. The weather is unpredictable and brings relatively cool summers (such as in 1992) as an occasional surprise, and huge snowstorms arriving as late as the second week in April (significant snow after mid-March is fairly rare though). Thunderstorms are common in spring.
  • Summers in New York are hot and humid, with temperatures commonly exceeding 90 °F (32 °C), although high temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) are about as rare as subzero (F) lows in winter. Humidity levels are usually quite high in July and August. Thunderstorms are common in summer, although severe weather is more common west of the city in New Jersey because the city's proximity to the ocean usually kills severe thunderstorms before they hit the city. Hurricanes are considered to be a major threat to the area (and especially the Long Island suburbs). While relatively infrequent compared to areas south and east, a direct hit could cause large loss of life and billions of dollars in damage due to the high population in coastal areas.
  • Autumns are comfortable in New York and similar to spring in temperature. However, the weather is notably unpredictable and travelers are advised to check forecasts and bring several layers of clothing in late fall and in the early spring months (e.g., November, March, April) as temperatures do flucuate quickly at these times of year.
  • Temperature records have been set as high as 106 °F (41 °C) on July 9, 1936 and as low as -15 °F (-26 °C) on February 9, 1934. These temperatures are not common and have not been matched or surpassed in more than six decades. Most recently, temperatures have hit 100 degrees as recently as July 2005 and 103 degrees in August 2006, and dropped below zero as recently as January 2004. New York can have excessive days of rain or long streches of dry weather.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,214.4 km² (468.9 mi²). 785.6 km² (303.3 mi²) of it is land and 428.8 km² (165.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 35.31% water. Although most of the city is adequately above sea level, parts of it could be threatened in the future if the current patterns of global warming continue.

[edit] Environmental issues

Image:Centralpark 20040520 121402 1.1504.jpg
Central Park is nearly twice as big as the world's second-smallest country, Monaco. Historically its reservoirs were important components of the city's water supply.

New York City plays an important role in the green policy agenda because of its size. Environmental groups make large efforts to help shape legislation in New York because they see the strategy as an efficient way to influence national programs. New York City's economy is larger than Switzerland's, a size that means the city has potential to set new defacto standards. Manufacturers are also attuned to the latest trends and needs in the city because the market is simply too big to ignore.

Although cities like San Francisco or Portland, Oregon are most commonly associated with urban environmentalism in the United States, New York City's unique urban footprint and extensive transportation systems make it more sustainable than most American cities. The environmental organization SustainLane ranked New York highest of all U.S. cities with more than 1 million residents in its 2005 US City Rankings, a detailed report on city quality of life combined with indicators of sustainability programs, policies and performance.<ref>"SustainLane US City Rankings." March 2006.[1]</ref> The organization cited New York's land use, density, transportation systems, innovative watershed management, and extensive local food and agriculture resources that include 750 community gardens and 64 farmers markets as some of the city's strongest environmental assets.

[edit] Maps and satellite images

[edit] See also

[edit] External links and further reading

[edit] References

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Geography and environment of New York City

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