Is Manhattan An Island? History And Distinctive Features

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Is Manhattan an island

Manhattan is one of the five boroughs that make up New York State. The other Boroughs include Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens. Manhattan borough covers a total of 59.1km² and has a population of 1.632 million as of 2019.

It is rich in landmarks and historical sites with exemplary architecture. It’s also considered a financial city because of Wall Street and a center of culture and education with world-class museums and universities. Its geographical location has always made people wonder;

Is Manhattan an island?

Yes. Manhattan is an island because it has water surrounding it in all directions. Most people confuse an island and a peninsula. A peninsula is partly surrounded by water but still connected to the mainland from which it extends. In contrast, an island does not connect to the mainland except through bridges and tunnels.

History Of Manhattan

Manhattan’s initial inhabitants were Canarsie Indians and Native Americans called Wappingers. The city was founded in the year 1626 by Henry Hudson, a Dutch who led the New York expedition.

Hudson bought the Island from the Canarsie Indians for 23 dollars. With a population of about 270, the Dutch settled on this Island and named it ‘New Amsterdam.’ The new settlers built homes, farms, ports, and administrative buildings.

In 1664, Englishmen conquered the Island and renamed it New York. Over the years, Manhattan continued to receive immigrants, and it soon became a city with diverse culture.

The Chinese, mainly professionals, and merchants had occupied Chinatown. Some Jews, Mexicans, Italians, and black Americans occupied upper Manhattan near Harlem.

Significant historical achievements of Manhattan include; the opening of the Brooklyn bridge in 1883, the commissioning of the Liberty statue in 1886, and publishing the first Wall Street journal in 1889. In 1898, Manhattan became one of the five New York State boroughs.

In the 60s, an increase in the crime rate led to the fleeing of most middle-class citizens. There was revitalization in the city in the 70s with the World Trade Center, WTC, and the one chase Manhattan Plaza.

Manhattan and America at large suffered a significant blow during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack where two planes crashed into the twin towers killing nearly 3000 people.

Landmarks In Manhattan

Manhattan is home to many extraordinary buildings and monuments. Every visitor in the city tries to catch a glimpse and take a photo of these landmarks.

Starting north, we have; The Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, The Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, UN headquarters, and Times Square.

The south harbors Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. In lower Manhattan, we have the Federal hall and the NYSE on Wall Street.

On the eastern side, we have Brooklyn Bridge, while the Woolworth Building and the former World Trade Center towers to the west.

1. Museums

Manhattan Island hosts some of the most exquisite museums in the world. The museums are vital in the preservation of artifacts and International history.

Uptown Manhattan is the home to Metropolitan Art Museum. Other museums on the upper Eastside include the Jewish Museum, New York City Museum, Cooper Hewitt Museum of National Design, and the Guggenheim Museum.

On the upper west side, we have American Fork Art Museum and the American Natural History Museum. Moving to Midtown, one will find the Museum of Modern Art and the Sea-Air-Space Museum.

In lower Manhattan, we have South Street Seaport Museum, American Indian National Museum, American Finance Museum, and the Jewish Heritage Museum. Then there is the Museum of Chinese in the Americas located in Chinatown.

2. Parks in Manhattan

Aside from monuments, buildings, and Museums, Manhattan is also known for its parks and gardens. The parks boast beautiful flowering trees, spectacular views, freshwater, and beautiful spots for picnics and relaxation.

The most famous and most prominent park in Manhattan is Central Park. Fort Tryon Park and Inwood Park are in upper Manhattan. Along Hudson River is the Riverside Park. Carl Schurz Park is on the Upper Eastside.

Moving to Midtown, one will see Tompkins Square Park, Madison Park, Union Square, and Bryant Park. Battery Park, City Hall Park, Columbus Park, and Washington Park paint the city green in lower Manhattan.

Distinctive Manhattan Features

Manhattan has outstanding monuments, landmarks, parks, and infrastructure. Below are some of the iconic features found in the Manhattan Borough:

Times square

The square is in midtown Manhattan. It gained its current name from the New York Times after the broadcast company occupied the Times Tower in 1904.

Times Square is a tourist destination site, a commercial center, and an entertainment center. Nearly 50 million tourists visit Times Square annually. Among the tourist attraction is the Broadway theatres.

One can watch plays, musicals, and box offices in any of these theatres. The One Times Square and the New York Times building are incredible architectural attractions.

Tourists also enjoy the fascinating ocean odyssey that allows them to have a deep ocean tour without the ocean dive.

The Gulliver’s gate miniature museum houses a wide variety of miniature exhibits and is a significant tourist attraction.

Empire state building

The building’s location is on 5th avenue, 34th street. This building is a distinctive and impressive 102 stories skyscraper built in 1930. Empire State is currently the tallest in New York State.

The building celebrated innovation and was among the pioneers of modern architectural technology. For the US, the Empire state building has been a symbol of economic strength and prowess in technology.

Central park

Central Park is the most extensive park in Manhattan, covering an area of up to 840 acres. The park has varied vegetation and terrain. The vegetation varies from shady glens to paspalum grass. Some terrains are flat, while others are sloppy.

The park has beautiful walking paths, several monuments, fountains, a few lakes, Metropolitan Museum, a zoo, and a police station.

There are playing fields for children and adults, an ice-skating rink, and an open-air theatre. Central Park is the ideal place to spend your time as you admire what nature has to offer.

Memorial park

During World War 2, over 4000 American soldiers died in the Atlantic Ocean during combat. The government created this memorial park to honor the soldiers’ lives.

The memorial park attracts millions of Americans and tourists annually.

Chrysler building

The Chrysler building is among the most stunning architectural designs in Manhattan. With a height of 305M and 77 floors, Chrysler is the second tallest building in New York.

This tower is an excellent symbol of New York State history and attracts both tourists and locals.

Holland tunnel

It was among the world’s first tunnels built in 1920 and was to connect New Jersey and New York. This tunnel allows the passage of almost 90,000 commuters daily.


Universities and colleges offer professional training to students to equip them with the necessary knowledge and personal and collective development skills.

Manhattan is home to universities like the New York University, Columbia University, Queen’s college, etc. These universities accept students from all over the world, promoting cultural diversity.

Metropolitan museum of art

Located in Central Park is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world. This museum is popularly known as The Met.

The museum has crucial ancient art and architectural collections from all over the world. The museum attracts nearly 7 million people annually. It is vital in the preservation of art.

New York stock exchange

NYSE was the first stock exchange in the US. In a day, the NYSE can facilitate buying and sell up to nine million securities and stocks. NYSE hosts corporations worldwide, and it plays an essential role in the economy of the US.

St Patrick’s cathedral

This church was a magnificent and iconic landmark build in 1878. The church is renowned for its neo-gothic architecture. The windows are made of stained glass, while the doors are of bronze.

St Patrick’s Cathedral also serves as a resting place for New York’s great clergymen and humanitarians. The church can accommodate 3000 people.

National Monuments In Manhattan

Below are a few national monuments located in the borough:

African burial ground

The government made these grounds a national heritage in 1993. This monument serves an essential role in reminding everyone of the prevalence of slavery in the 18th century and the US heritage.

Governor’s Island

Being a colonial militia, Governor’s Island operated as a US Army headquarters until 1996. Currently, the Island offers a serene environment with free cultural and art events and recreational activities.

Statue of liberty

The statue is on Liberty Island. It commemorates the friendship between France and the US and symbolizes democracy and freedom.


The monument is in a park in Greenwich Village. This monument was dedicated to LGBTQ rights and was the first of its kind.

General grant memorial

Commanding General Grant led the Union army, which won the civil war, and he became a two-term president after the war. This memorial serves as the resting place for Grant and his wife, Julia. The site is always open for tourists.


Manhattan is an island that is part of the five boroughs which form New York State. The borough has impressive landmarks, museums, parks, and gardens.

Manhattan serves as an administrative center, a financial center, history and cultural center, a sports center, and a major tourist city.

The city is also rich in history with monuments to remind people of the past. The parks offer aesthetic value. If one wants to have a holistic tourist experience, then Manhattan is the place for you.

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