Aside from the iconic skyline of Manhattan itself hulking overhead, the Statue of Liberty and nearby Ellis Island historic site are prized monuments now to the millions of immigrants who were inspected here between 1882 and 1954. The Immigration Museum on Ellis Island is still one of the most prized genealogical repositories in the country. Both sites are easily accessible by ferry.
Much of the ship traffic coursing through New York Harbor every day can be attributed to freighters delivering goods to and from destinations all along the Hudson River. Others are cruise ships ferrying tourists to and from what many consider America's cultural and financial Mecca, easily the most populated city in the United States. Though its population was 22.1 million in 2010, it's not hard to imagine a time when it was only the Lenape natives confronting the first European explorers.
That chapter began in 1524, with Spaniard Estevao Gomes. A much deeper examination wasn't made of the country, however, until 1609, when Englishman Henry Hudson rode the river that now bears his name into the far-distant Adirondack Mountains. By 1648, the Dutch were building the first commercial wharf at the southern tip of Manhattan Island that would ultimately become the core supply post for British colonial domination. It took more than a century, of course, for those colonists to tire of British "taxation without representation." That's when those early Americans told the British, as they say in the Big Apple, to "get outta hea."