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BRIEF HISTORY OF NEW YORK

Copyright@shravancharitymission

    New York is the world’s first megacity. Most people know New York. Nevertheless let me tell you a few interesting facts about it.

    New York has always been a city of superlatives and first—the richest, most populated, most diverse, most innovative, home to the world’s longest bridge, tallest skyscraper, largest public park, most elaborate subway system, the first to have electricity, telephones, potato chips, pneumatic railway, teddy bears, credit cards, air-conditioning, Silicon Valley and Scrabble, among other things. It has attracted business people and artists, rich and poor, and privileged and persecuted. Today, let’s look at the journey of this vibrant city.

BORN FROM A SHEET OF ICE!

    New York originated when a massive sheet of ice started melting, some 12,000 years ago. Pine trees and grasses grew as the climate became warmer. Woolly mammoths, bison, bears and other large land mammals, as well as hunter-gatherers appeared. As many as 3,000 years later, those animals and humans vanished. The melting ice caused oceans to rise, turning valleys into estuaries and forming new islands and peninsulas. Soon, a new generation of human beings who called themselves “Lenape” arrived. Initially, they lived off deer, fish, nuts, berries and fruits. And about 1,000 years ago, they started growing their own food.

    In the 16th Century, Italian navigator Giovanni da Verazzano set out to find a shorter route to India and China. His quest was unsuccessful but it motivated other explorations, many of which ended up in Lenape-hoking. (Lenape-hoking is a term for the lands historically inhabited by the Native American people known as the Lenape in what is now the Mid-Atlantic United States), where the explorers started selling furs from Canada and Russia, as well as kettles, blankets, hoes, knives, etc., to the Lenape. In 1609, Henry Hudson, an English sailor, claimed an area up the North River (now the Hudson) for the Dutch East India Company. This area, was named New Amsterdam, and became a Dutch trading post in 1624.

    BOUGHT WITH GLASS BEADS

    In 1626, Dutch colonial governor Peter Minuit purchased New Amsterdam from the Lenape tribe, allegedly for glass beads worth $24. New Amsterdam’s population was just 1,500 people then, and included Dutch, Belgians, French and English. Dutch farmers built the earliest settlements. Jews and African slaves soon arrived, and by the 18th Century, it was an upmarket address. The Dutch eventually lost New Amsterdam to the British, who renamed it New York in honour of the Duke of York.

    In 1700, New York’s population was just 5,000 but it was growing rapidly. It multiplied 12 times within a century, and New York became an important trading hub with a slave-labour-driven economy. In 1785—almost 10 years after a failed attempt at achieving freedom from the British, and 13 years after the Great Fire of New York—President George Washington declared New York the largest city in the US, the capital of free America. (The capital shifted to Philadelphia later that year.) The Bank of New York was founded in 1784 and the New York Stock Exchange, in 1792.

    By 1810, New York was a major cotton trading port, and by 1817, thanks to the completion of the Erie Canal from Hudson river to Lake Erie, it was the undisputed trading capital with a population approaching 1,23,000. In the manner of rapidly growing urban spaces, the city’s growth was haphazard. To combat that, the governor appointed a commission to plan the layout of the city. In 1811, the “Commissioner’s Plan” proposed a neat, grid-like arrangement of streets and avenues for the entire city, including Manhattan. By the 1830s, the population swelled to 3,12,000 and efforts were initiated to provide clean water. The New York Police Department was established in 1844.

    THE 10-MILLION MARK

    Between 1892 and 1924, more than 12 million immigrants, arrived from Ireland, Germany, Europe, Asia and other places, and passed through New York and “settled” in the U.S.—forming communities, starting businesses and building places of worship. It was relatively recent, in the 20th century, that New York City took its present shape. Geographically, the city is situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbours and is composed of five boroughs—Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island. Each borough is a county in the State of New York. In 1895, the citizens of all five counties unanimously voted to merge with Manhattan to form Greater New York. Before the counties united, New York’s population was roughly two million people. After the merger, it increased to three million. By the 1920s, it had overtaken London, and by the 1930s, it had crossed the 10-million mark to become the first megacity in the world.

    The US economy, suffering after the Great Depression in the 1930s, picked up, because of increased wartime spending during World War II, and New York became the world’s leading city. Wall Street consolidated the country’s position in the global economy.

THE CITY TODAY

    New York continues to cope successfully with the pressures of explosive growth. The increased crime rates due to job losses triggered by industrial restructuring in the 1970s and 80s were effectively controlled by the 1990s. The 24-hour rapid transport system, buses, ferries and taxis continue to support the population that needs to be constantly on the move. Streets, expressways and nearly 2,000 bridges and tunnels—many of which are internationally acclaimed engineering marvels—link the various boroughs, supporting vehicles and pedestrians. The sprawling 843-acre Central Park, the New York Botanical Gardens, lavish baseball, soccer and basketball stadiums, internationally renowned museums, cultural institutions and historic sites, as well as Broadway—the dream destination for every theatre professional—provide open spaces as well as physical and intellectual stimulation.

    New York, symbolised by the iconic Manhattan skyline, altered, after 9/11, yet continues to be the world’s financial and architectural hub. It has something for everyone.

ACTIVITY

    The Empire State Building and Times Square are iconic spots in New York.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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SHORT STORY: NIRAV MODI AND THE CURSE OF MIDAS

Copyright@shravancharitymission

    Nirav Modi, the fugitive diamond merchant who fled the country after reportedly swindling the banks for over Rs 13,000 crore, has one thing in common with a character in Greek legend, King Midas of Phrygia: and that is insatiable greed.

    By all standards, Modi ran a successful diamond business and had amassed more wealth than most people can even dream of. The sale of his art collection alone is said to have fetched Rs 58 crore. He owns several properties in India, and at least two apartments in a tower block in Central London, which in themselves would cost several million British pound sterling.

    But I guess all these immense riches were apparently not enough to satisfy him, so he conspired to swindle the banks for thousands of crores of rupees.

    Now he is fugitive from the law in London. A prisoner who has been denied bail by a British judge and is facing extradition to India, where he is likely to do extended jail term.

    So then why, when he already had more money than anyone could possibly spend in several luxurious lifetimes was he compelled to become a cheat and land himself in such a mess as he is now in?

    The answer is, insatiable greed. Modi’s story parallels that of Midas. Who was granted a boon by Dionysus, the God of wine and revelry. Midas chose infinite wealth and was granted the golden touch whereby everything he laid hands on turned into precious metal.

    But Midas’s joy at having been given the golden touch was short-lived. As he could not eat nor drink anything, because whatever he came in contact with turned into gold, including his beloved daughter.

    Midas then realised that his golden touch, born out of uncontrollable greed, was not a boon but a curse. So, he went back to Dionysus and begged of him to take back his baneful gift. The God told Midas to go bathe in a river that would wash away the unbearable burden of his greed.

    The dietary disorder of bulimia turns people into obsessive eaters who cannot stop themselves from consuming much more than what their bodies actually require or what their constitutions can withstand. If untreated, bulimia leads to obesity and other life-threatening conditions. The unbridled greed for material wealth is a bulimia of the spirit, an uncontrolled and uncontrollable appetite that leads to grevious consequences.

    In Oliver Stone’s movie, Wall Street, the protagonist, Gordon Gekko, sums up the mantra of compulsive consumption: ‘Greed is good’. But greed, as Midas discovered, is far from being good; greed is another word for grief.

    The so-called ‘subprime crisis’, which started in the US in 2007 and led to worldwide financial turmoil, was caused by greed, and led to many millions losing their life savings, their homes and their jobs.

    Greed is harmful not just for our financial health. Greed for more and more of the planet’s limited resources has brought us to the brink of irretrievable environmental catastrophe.

    Collective human greed –particularly as evidenced by the world’s wealthiest nations, who have shown that the more you have more you desire to have—has endangered the Earth, perhaps beyond salvation.

    Not just Nirav Modi, we are all inheritors of the curse of Midas.

    This column is inspired by a recent article of Jug Suraiya in Speaking Tree.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****