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Does New York Still Want to Be the Capital of the World?

Most Americans are familiar with the great events and places that define our national past—Bunker Hill in Massachusetts, Independence Hall in Pennsylvania, Jamestown in Virginia. The list could go on. But no place in the country has seen more history than the southern tip of Manhattan. There, the Dutch set up a trading post in 1625 and created a tradition of tolerance and a live-and-let-live lifestyle that would endure for centuries.

Lower Manhattan became the strategic focus of both sides in the American Revolution and the headquarters for the British army and navy for the entire conflict. When the redcoats sailed away from the island in 1783, it marked the end of the war—and the beginning of the United States. The nation’s first chamber of commerce started there in 1768, as did the New York Stock Exchange in 1792. By the beginning of the 20th century, lower Manhattan had surpassed Chicago to become the true home of the skyscraper, and by 1917 it had surpassed London as the engine of the world economy.

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