However much the tourist authorities try to encourage visitors, the large and rambling state of NEW YORK stands inevitably in the
shadow of America's most celebrated city. The words "New York" bring to mind soaring skyscrapers and congested streets, not the
50,000 square miles of rolling dairy farmland, colonial villages, workaday towns, lakes, waterfalls and towering mountains that spread
north and west from New York City and constitute upstate New York . Just an hour's drive north of Manhattan, the valley of the
Hudson River , with the moody Catskill Mountains rising stealthily from the west bank, offers a respite from the intensity of the city.
Much wilder and more rugged are the peaks of the vast Adirondack Mountains further north - far beyond the scope of a casual excursion,
but holding some of eastern America's most enticing scenery. To the west, the slender Finger Lakes and endless miles of dairy farms and
vineyards occupy the central portion of the state. Few of the cities hold much of interest, but the smaller towns, like Ivy League Ithaca ,
can be quite charming for a day or two, while the venerable spa town of Saratoga Springs attracts thousands of punters during the August
horse racing season.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as nation-molding political and military battles were taking place, semi-feudal Dutch
landowning dynasties such as the Van Rensselaers held sway upstate. Their control over tens of thousands of tenant farmers was barely
affected by the transfer of colonial power from Holland to Britain, or even by American independence. Only with the completion of the
Erie Canal in 1825, linking New York City with the Great Lakes, did the interior start to open up; improved opportunities for trade enabled
canal-side cities like Rochester, Syracuse and especially Buffalo to undergo massive expansion. On the other hand, this industrial and
agricultural growth in the hinterland served, inevitably, to increase the financial standing of the Wall Street capitalists. The story of the
past century and a half has been one of New York City's political and economic domination of New York State, though recent economic
developments across the state have redressed the imbalance.
STATES OF AMERICA