The 10 Greatest Events In New York City History
New York City is one of the most prominent cities in all of the U.S. and, indeed, the world. As a result, it’s seen its fair share of greatness. It’s difficult to truly pick the 10 greatest events that have occurred in New York City’s storied history, but there are certainly dozens of options to choose from.
These 10 epic milestones stretch from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century, but the Big Apple’s history is far from over. Through to this very day we are carrying forward and building on the historic events of those that came before us. Here’s a look at some of the accomplishments that built New York, New York.
1883 – In the late 20th century, when New York City had distinguished itself as an industrial powerhouse, The Brooklyn Bridge officially opened. Largely regarded as a marvel of both engineering and design, the bridge was welcomed with a raucous parade of 21 elephants, led back and forth across the bridge by P.T. Barnum.
1892 – 1954 – America is and always has been a cultural melting pot. That history really began in the 1890s, when Ellis Island began processing immigrant arrivals who often arrived with little more than their hopes and dreams. From 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island processed more than 12 million immigrants. Today, the facility is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
1902 – New York City’s famous skyline was a distant thought in 1902, when the city’s first skyscraper rose up on the horizon. Located at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, the 21-story Flatiron building ushered in the era of tall, vertical buildings as New York City began building up as much as it was building out.
1904 – Today, the network of subways is like the veins of New York City, and the riders carried to and fro are the lifeblood of the city. But in 1904, the subway was brand new, as New York City unveiled its very first line: the IRT.
1931 – Move over, Flatiron! In 1931, New York City made it clear that it was the world’s economic hub with rapid expansion and development. The Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and George Washington Bridge were all completed in this year, establishing the heart of the iconic skyline we know and love today.
1932 – In 1932, the Olympic Winter Games came to Lake Placid. Today, the Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center remains standing as a museum. Guests are welcome to tour the sports complex and see what was then the height of athletic facilities.
1939 – The 1939 World’s Fair was hosted in New York City, and it also happened to fall on the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as first president of the U.S. In just two seasons, more than 44 million people attended the monumental event to view technological developments that were rapidly pushing the world into the modern era.
1952 – In 1952, New York City’s critical place in the world was formally recognized when it was made the permanent headquarters of the United Nations. As a symbol of international cooperation and diplomacy, perhaps there was no better place for the UN than New York City, a beacon for international relations and economic ties.
1969 – Who remembers Woodstock? The three-day music and art fair was held on a former dairy farm in Bethel, and exploded beyond all expectations. The festival attracted half a million fans and featured some of the foremost names in music at the time. Today, the Bethel Woods Center for the arts remains standing as a 1960s museum and still serves as a venue for concerts.
1973 – Now a fond memory for all New Yorkers and, indeed, all Americans, the Twin Towers World Trade Center was completed in 1973. Each tower stood 1,368 feet tall and added an iconic symbol to an already iconic skyline.
We could easily bring up hundreds of other events and developments that are bound tightly to the history of New York City. We could go farther back in our collective memory, or we could consider more recent examples. What really is the greatest event in New York City? After all, the greatest event is the unfolding of life itself here, and we continue writing those stories every day. In the words of the classic tourism slogan: I LOVE NEW YORK!