New York City is a renowned global hub for finance, politics, entertainment, and culture. It is one of the world's most vibrant cities, boasting an impressive collection of museums, galleries, concert halls, media outlets, international corporations, and stock exchanges. The city is also home to the United Nations and its associated international missions. New York City is celebrated for its cosmopolitan population, with immigrants from more than 180 countries making it one of the most diverse places in the world.
People from all over the United States are also drawn to the Big Apple for its culture, energy, and diversity. Throughout its history, New York City has experienced several turning points. In 1904, more than 1,000 people tragically lost their lives when the steamboat General Slocum caught fire in the East River. Then in 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in Greenwich Village claimed the lives of 145 garment workers. These devastating events led to advances in the city's fire department, building codes, and labor regulations. During the first half of the 20th century, New York City became a global center of industry, commerce, and communication.
Interborough Rapid Transit (New York's first subway company) began operating in 1904 and the railroads that operated from Grand Central Terminal prospered. In 1925, New York City surpassed London as the most populous city in the world. Despite the effects of the Great Depression, some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world were built in the 1930s. These included numerous Art Deco masterpieces that are still part of the city's skyline today. The post-World War II economic and residential boom was associated with the return of veterans and immigration from Europe.
Huge tracts of new housing were built in eastern Queens and in 1951, the United Nations moved from its first headquarters in Flushing Meadows Park to Manhattan. In the 1960s, New York City experienced a decline in population, an erosion of its industrial base, and race riots. By 1975, it was on the brink of financial collapse and had to restructure its debt through a state agency called the Financial Control Board. The 1980s saw a Wall Street revival and New York regained its role as a global financial hub. Organized crime has been associated with New York City since the early 20th century when legendary mobsters roamed and controlled certain areas of the city and many businesses. In the 1980s prosecutors like Rudolph Giuliani became famous for successfully prosecuting notorious crime bosses and restoring faith in the American judicial system. In 1991 crime rates began to fall dramatically and by the 1990s New York City had become a destination for immigrants and US citizens looking for a unique lifestyle.
Since then crime rates have continued to decline. New York City is governed by a charter that is enacted and amended by the New York State Legislature and sometimes by referendum. Although it is subservient to New York State, it enjoys a high degree of legislative and executive autonomy. The executive branch is headed by an elected mayor who appoints several deputy mayors to head main offices within it. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral city council which contains 51 members each representing a district of approximately 157,000 people. The leader of the majority party is called president.
Like most legislative bodies it is divided into committees that oversee various functions of city government. Unlike other parts of New York State there are no county courts in New York City instead there is one civil court with a presence in each jurisdiction and one criminal court for each county which deals with minor criminal offenses and domestic violence cases. New York City is located at 218 miles (350 km) from Boston and 232 miles (373 km) from Washington DC at the center of what is known as BosWash megalopolis. It is situated on three main islands Manhattan Staten Island and western Long Island (Brooklyn and Queens) as well as on mainland Bronx. There are also some smaller islands in surrounding waters such as Ellis Island Governors Island Liberty Island Roosevelt Island and small islands located in Jamaica Bay.