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New York City grew and remained under English rule until the American Revolution, after which it served briefly as the capital of the United States from 1785 to 1790. Its expansion and prominence continued for the next two-and-a-half centuries, as its location at the mouth of the mighty Hudson River made it an ideal port serving the entire Northeast and, the United States.
The late nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War marked a period of particular growth in the city’s size, commerce and culture, due in part to a massive influx of poor European immigrants. The immigrants sought a better life only to find themselves living under mostly squalid conditions in crowded urban tenements. Improvements were ultimately made in municipal services, including public transportation, sewer and water and health care; culture and the arts also flourished during this period.
During the latter half of the twentieth century, New York experienced a transformation from a predominantly working-class city to one of privilege and stark economic contrasts. Fiscal problems — including deficits, taxation and potential bankruptcy issues – and high crime rates plagued more than one mayoral administration. Just as New Yorkers were beginning to feel safer in their own city, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers took place on September 11, 2001. That the citizens of this diverse and at times overwhelming urban landscape immediately pulled together to help one another with such genuine acts of kindness and heroism is a true testament to the human spirit. The city is still in the process of rebuilding and recovering from this fateful event during which 2,000 lives were lost.
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