Legally speaking, the City of New York consists of five separate Boroughs. What was formerly known as New York is now called the Borough of Manhattan.
It occupies the whole of Manhattan Island. The average person speaking of New York has in mind this particular place. He doesn't even know that it is a Borough and cares less. To him it has always been New York and always will be.
The Island lies at the mouth of the Hudson River and is about two miles wide at its widest part and about thirteen 'long. It contains a little more than 22,000 acres. Including, however, the adjoining Boroughs, the size of Greater New York is about 327 square miles.
The population is very close to twelve millions. It seems to increase at the rate of about two hundred and fifty thousand a year. The vast number of immigrants greatly added to the transient population and though the city has more and larger hotels than any other in the world, it has of late found increasing difficulty in caring for its visitors. Even in normal times it is estimated that four hundred thousand strangers are within its hospitable gates every night.
No city in the world rivals New York in the magnitude and rapidity of its growth. In the case of a man grown suddenly great, every little scrap of information regarding his early life is eagerly sought for and treasured. Every detail, no matter how trifling, is of absorbing interest. And so it is with a city. New York, being so young and yet so old, is a fruitful topic for the man in the street, as well as the antiquarian.
For you who visit the metropolis for the first time, nothing can be amiss that will add to your knowledge of the city and to a better understanding of its origin, its rise and its progress. In the pages which follow, therefore, an attempt has been made to set forth some of its most important characteristics and to explain, if possible, the fascination it possesses for so many different types of people, and its all embracing popularity.
"That New York has accepted without protest her role as Siren City cannot be denied," remarks Harrison J. Rhodes. "Indeed, she rather expects writers and dramatists to portray the dangers which lurk within her bosom for the pure young men and women from the country.
Boston and Philadelphia are not free from evil, Heaven knows, but there is something faintly ridiculous in the idea of their luring a man to destruction." And so the great mass of literature produced outside of the city for rural consumption must necessarily feature this phase of city life or be forever eschewed by its bucolic constituency.
Nevertheless, there is so much that is attractive, so much that is uplifting and inspiring, that it is a matter of regret to the real New Yorker that such misinformation and drivel is so generally distributed. There is also much, no doubt, over which a veil could be drawn. But that is inevitable in a city so large. The unbiased chronicler of Manhattan, nevertheless, has a vast store-house of facts from which to draw, and needs no help from his imagination.
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