Eastern New York is dominated by the Great Appalachian Valley. Lake Champlain is the chief northern feature of the valley, which also includes the Hudson River. The Hudson is noted for its beauty, as are Champlain and neighboring Lake George. West of the lakes are the rugged Adirondack Mts., another major vacationland, with extensive wildernesses and sports centers like Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. Mt. Marcy (5,344 ft/1,629 m), the highest point in the state, is near Lake Placid. The rest of NE New York is hilly, sloping gradually to the valleys of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, both of which separate it from Ontario. The Mohawk River, which flows from Rome into the Hudson north of Albany, is part of the New York State Canal System's Erie Canal, once a major route to the Great Lakes and the midwestern United States as well as the only complete natural route through the Appalachian Mts.
Most of the southern part of the state is on the Allegheny plateau, which rises in the SE to the Catskill Mts., an area that attracts many vacationers from New York City and its environs. New York City, in turn, attracts tourists from all over the world. On the extreme SE, the state extends into the Atlantic Ocean to form Long Island, which is separated from Connecticut on the N by Long Island Sound.
The western extension of the state to Lakes Ontario and Erie contains many bodies of water, notably Oneida Lake and the celebrated Finger Lakes. In the northwest the Niagara River, with scenic Niagara Falls, forms the border with Ontario between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The western region has resorts as well as large, traditionally industrial cities such as Buffalo on Lake Erie, Rochester on Lake Ontario, Syracuse, and Utica. The western section is drained by the Allegheny River and rivers of the Susquehanna and Delaware systems. The Delaware River Basin Compact, signed in 1961 by New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the federal government, regulates the utilization of water of the Delaware system.
In addition to the great forest preserves of the Adirondacks and Catskills, New York has many state parks, among them Jones Beach State Park and Allegany State Park. Part of Fire Island, which lies off Long Island, is a national seashore. The racetrack at Saratoga Springs, a pleasure and health resort, and the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River are popular with summer vacationers. Among the places of historic interest in the state under federal administration (see National Parks and Monuments, table) are those at Hyde Park, with the burial place of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Vanderbilt Mansion. Albany is the capital; New York City is the largest city, followed by Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.