Is It New York Or New York City? Understanding The Difference

New York is one of the most famous and iconic cities in the world, but is it actually called New York or New York City? This is a common question for anyone new to the Big Apple. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Officially, it’s New York City. But New York is often used casually as shorthand.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history behind the name, when to use New York versus New York City, and some fun facts about America’s largest metropolis. By the end, you’ll be an expert on the proper name for the City That Never Sleeps.

The Official Name is New York City

When it comes to the official name, it is important to note that it is called New York City. This is the legal and recognized name for the bustling metropolis that is often referred to simply as “New York.”

New York City is the legal and official name

According to the official records, the name of the city is New York City. This is the name that is used on official documents, government websites, and legal paperwork. It is the name that represents the city in international forums and diplomatic circles.

The name New York City encompasses the five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Each borough has its own unique characteristics and cultural identity, which come together to form the vibrant and diverse city we know today.

New York State contains New York City along with other cities/regions

On the other hand, New York State is the larger entity that contains New York City, along with other cities and regions. It is important to make this distinction because New York State is not synonymous with New York City.

New York State is home to many other cities, such as Albany, Buffalo, and Rochester, as well as picturesque regions like the Finger Lakes and the Adirondack Mountains. So when someone refers to New York, they could be talking about the state as a whole or specifically about New York City depending on the context.

New York is an informal short version commonly used by locals

While the official name is New York City, it is common for locals and residents to refer to it simply as “New York.” This informal short version has become widely accepted and is used in everyday conversations and colloquial language.

It’s worth noting that this informal usage does not diminish the significance or grandeur of the city. In fact, it adds to the unique charm and character that New York City is known for. From the iconic skyline to the world-famous attractions, New York (or New York City) continues to captivate people from around the globe.

To learn more about the official name and the city itself, you can visit the official New York City government website.

A Look Back at the Origins and History

Original name was New Amsterdam when founded as a Dutch colony

Before it was known as New York or New York City, the area we now recognize as one of the most iconic cities in the world was originally called New Amsterdam. Established as a Dutch colony in the early 17th century, it served as a trading post and hub of commerce for the Dutch West India Company.

The name “New Amsterdam” was a nod to the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which was a significant trading center at the time. The Dutch influence can still be seen today in the city’s architecture, street names, and culture.

Became New York after being taken over by the British in 1664

In 1664, the British fleet arrived and successfully took control of New Amsterdam, renaming it New York in honor of the Duke of York, who would later become King James II of England. This marked the beginning of British rule in the area.

The British brought their own customs, laws, and way of life, which would go on to shape the city’s future development.

The five boroughs consolidated to form New York City in 1898

While New York had already established itself as a major city by the late 19th century, it wasn’t until 1898 that the five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island – officially consolidated to form what we now know as New York City.

This consolidation was driven by the need for better governance and infrastructure management, as the city continued to grow rapidly. Today, each borough has its own distinct character and attractions, contributing to the vibrant tapestry that makes up New York City.

For more information on the history of New York City, you can visit, the official tourism website of New York City, or, which provides in-depth articles on various aspects of the city’s history.

When to Use “New York” vs “New York City”

Use New York City in formal/legal contexts

When it comes to formal or legal contexts, it is important to use the term “New York City” instead of just “New York.” This is because “New York” can refer to both the city and the state. To avoid any confusion or ambiguity, it is recommended to use the full name “New York City” in these situations.

For example, when filling out official documents or contracts, it is crucial to specify “New York City” to ensure accurate identification and legal compliance.

New York is fine in casual conversation, especially among locals

In casual conversations, especially among locals, it is perfectly acceptable to simply say “New York” when referring to the city. This is because it is widely understood that the term “New York” is often used colloquially to refer to the city itself.

Locals, in particular, commonly use “New York” to denote their beloved city without any confusion or misunderstanding.

Using just Manhattan or other borough names can also be acceptable contextually

Context plays a vital role when it comes to using specific borough names in New York City. While using “New York City” is the safest option, there are situations where referring to a specific borough can be acceptable.

For example, if you are discussing a particular neighborhood or attraction within Manhattan, using “Manhattan” alone can be understood in the context. Similarly, mentioning other borough names like “Brooklyn” or “Queens” can also be acceptable when the conversation is focused on those specific areas.

It’s important to note that while these variations in terminology are generally acceptable, using “New York City” as a default term is the best practice to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.

Fun Facts About New York City

Home to over 8 million people, making it the largest US city

New York City is not only the most populous city in the United States, but it is also home to over 8 million people. With its bustling streets, diverse neighborhoods, and vibrant atmosphere, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to call this city their home.

From the iconic skyscrapers of Manhattan to the charming brownstone homes of Brooklyn, New York City offers a unique blend of cultures and experiences.

Iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square

When you think of New York City, some of the first images that come to mind are likely the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Times Square. These iconic landmarks have become symbols of the city, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Whether you’re taking a ferry ride to see Lady Liberty up close, marveling at the stunning views from the top of the Empire State Building, or immersing yourself in the bright lights and energy of Times Square, these landmarks are must-see attractions for anyone visiting the city.

Nicknamed the “City That Never Sleeps” due to its nonstop activity

New York City is known for its nonstop activity and vibrant nightlife, earning it the nickname “The City That Never Sleeps.” From Broadway shows and live music performances to 24-hour diners and late-night bars, there is always something happening in the city.

Whether you’re a night owl looking for entertainment or simply want to experience the bustling energy of the city after dark, New York City offers endless possibilities.

An important center of finance, media, art, fashion, and culture

New York City is not only a hub of activity, but it is also an important center for various industries. From Wall Street and the financial district to Madison Avenue and the world of advertising, the city plays a crucial role in the global economy.

Additionally, New York City is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums, art galleries, and fashion houses, making it a cultural mecca for those interested in the arts and fashion.

For more information on the history, attractions, and culture of New York City, you can visit, the official tourism website of New York City.


So in summary, while both New York and New York City can refer to the same place, the official name is in fact New York City. The shorter New York is often used conversationally when the context is clear. Whatever you call it, New York remains an iconic metropolis that lives up to its reputation of always being awake and energized!

We’ve unpacked the historical origins of the name, when to use each version, and some interesting facts about NYC. Next time you visit New York City, you can wow your friends with your knowledge about its official name and cool history!

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