For many, the state of New York is synonymous with NYC or “The Big Apple”: Manhattan’s urban skyscrapers, Broadway shows, Central Park and Wall Street. However, most of the state's 54,520 square miles are dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains and lakes. Adirondack State Park alone is roughly the size of the state of Vermont, and New York's beaches, both ocean and fresh water, stretch for hundreds of miles.
Central New York is home to the glacially-created Finger Lakes and to the west, Niagara Falls, the nation's honeymoon capital, thunders over the crestline at a rate of more than 6 million cubic feet of water every minute. The state has about a quarter of its land in farms and the south shore of Lake Erie, the Finger Lakes hillsides, and the eastern forks of Long Island have many vineyards, making New York the nation's third-largest wine-producing state as well as third in the country for its number of certified organic farms.
In the 1600s, Dutch and English settlers displaced the Native American tribes residing in the region. During the immigration waves that followed, Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants: Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, German, Hungarian and many others. It has been estimated that nearly half of all Americans today can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through the Port of New York at Ellis Island. Newer immigrants from Asia and Latin America have helped to swell New York's diverse population to its present 19,651,127, making it the fourth most populous state after California, Texas and Florida.
In 2013, New York had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.4 trillion, making it the third largest state economy in the U.S. If New York were an independent nation, it would be the 14th largest economy in the world. To put that into perspective, it is currently on par with the GDP of Spain, a country with twice as many people. Its per capita personal income is $32,382, placing it eighth in the nation. The median household income is $58,003.
Home to countless corporate headquarters and the largest number of Fortune 500 companies in the nation (55 total), New York City is the leading center of banking, finance, media, publishing and communication in the nation. But NYC industries are not the state’s only economic driver. As a major producer of cow’s milk, New York ranks among the top five states. The state also has a large manufacturing sector, with Albany and the Hudson Valley serving as major centers of nanotechnology and microchip manufacturing.
Given the vast rural to urban spectrum, the New York real estate market is incredibly dependent on location. In 2015, the statewide median home value was $296,954, and the median rental price was $1,467. Yet the state is also home to five of the most expensive zip codes in the nation, three of which are in lower Manhattan and two of which are in the Hamptons. All five have median sales prices above $2 million. The priciest of all? That would be Sagaponack in the Hamptons (11962), with a nation-leading median sales price of $5.1 million in 2015.