New York became an official state on July 26, 1788, following the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Its first governor was George Clinton, and Albany became its capital in January of 1797.
Before New York became a state, Dutch settlers colonized the region in 1624 and named it New Netherland. Forty years later, the British conquered the colony and renamed it New York. New York announced its independence on July 1776 and in 1777 adopted its first state constitution. George Washington held his inauguration in New York City on April 30, 1789 at Federal Hall.
The largest city in the country by population, New York City, makes its home in the state and was the first capital in the country's history. The city and state saw a huge influx of immigrants during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Considered the gateway into the country, Ellis Island off the coast of Manhattan processed the immigrants, while the Statue of Liberty, standing on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, welcomed them.
To the state's west, the three waterfalls of Niagara Falls sit approximately 180 feet high and 1,100 feet long. The hydroelectric power produced by the falls serves nearly a quarter of the state's needs.