a major city in New York State CultureNew YorkThere is a great sense of excitement in New York and it has a reputation for being ‘the city that never sleeps’. The Big Apple, as it is sometimes called, feels alive, fast and at the centre of everything, with cars hooting, yellow taxis weaving through the traffic, brightly lit theatres, and restaurants busy late into the night. The city offers enormous contrasts. Some of the most expensive homes in the world are in New York City, but on the pavements outside are poor people without a home. It is possible to pay hundreds of dollars for a meal in a restaurant, or eat good, filling food for a couple of dollars from a street vendor.Many Americans have never been to New York, but everyone knows something about the city. They are familiar with the tall Manhattan skyline, Times Square with its brightly lit advertisements, Madison Square Garden, where many sports events take place, Wall Street, its financial heart, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, where many of their ancestors first arrived in the US and Ground Zero, where the development of the site is seen as a symbol of New Yorkers' courage and ability to overcome tragedy.New York was founded in 1624 by the Dutch, who called it New Amsterdam. Its Dutch origins can be seen in the names of old New York families like Stuyvesant and Vanderbilt, and in place names such as Brooklyn (originally Breukelen) and Harlem. In 1664 the English gained control and changed the name to New York. In 1898 several towns were combined to make Greater New York City, which became the second largest city in the world, after London, though at the time part of it consisted of farms. Soon after, many new buildings were constructed, and in 1904 the New York subway was opened.Many immigrants to the US stayed in New York, giving the city the variety of cultures it has today. During the 1920s, when alcohol was banned, New York had many speakeasies (= bars serving alcohol), which were illegal but very popular. This was also the time of the Harlem Renaissance, when Harlem became a centre for African-American arts and culture. In the latter half of the 20th century wealthier people began moving out to the suburbs.New Yorkers speak in a very direct way which can seem rude to people from other parts of the US. Some have little patience with visitors who are not used to the fast pace of the city. But for many visitors, meeting real New Yorkers is part of the attraction of going to the city.