Welcome to New York! 

New York is a global megalopolis and a city of distinctive character that sets it apart as one and only in the world. New York City is known for its diversity, fearlessness, ingenuity, and energy. As one of the largest and most important cities in the U.S., New York City bears the glory and pain of modern U.S. history: immigration, poverty and urban crowding, the Great Depression, labor movements, urban renewal and suburbanization, real estate and financial booms, crumbling infrastructure and rising costs, the tragedy of 9/11, and the economic crash of 2008. New York City presents a complexity unlike any other.

As we welcome our SSSP members, we honor the first peoples of our city, who had nurtured this land for generations. New York City sits on the traditional lands of the Lenape, Rockaway, Canarsie, and Matinecock People (https://www.native-land.ca/). African slaves arrived in the 1620s and played critical roles in building the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, as well as in the continuing construction and expansion after the English captured New Amsterdam and renamed the City “New York” in the late 1600s. It is important to remember these earliest residents whose labor was instrumental to the formation, development, and prosperity of the City.

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

New Yorkers are a truly diverse group. Immigrants from around the world have molded the shape and story of the City since its colonial time. That tradition continues today. Thirty-seven percent of New York City residents today are foreign-born (American Community Survey 2017). Nearly half of New York City’s households (48.9%) speak languages other than English at home. Over 800 languages are spoken in the City. These diverse groups of courageous New Yorkers have established a long tradition of social movements for labor rights, civil rights, racial justice, gender equality, LBGTQ rights, and religious freedom.

New York City has incredible energy as a result of the diversity and the many contradictions existing side by side; the ultra-rich (0.1% of New Yorkers are worth $30 million or more according to Forbes magazine) and the poor (19.6% were below the poverty line in 2017 according to the American FactFinder), capitalists and workers, people of all races and cultures around the globe, political liberals and conservatives, the traditionalist and the avant-garde, the old and the young rub elbows on the streets every day. Together, they create stories, tastes, and smells of this exciting city.

New York City is full of significant landmarks and museums telling these stories:

Most of all, New York is a city of people. At different corners of this 21st-century global city, one can find layered marks of lived history in old restaurants, in tucked-away courtyards, on inconspicuous cultural medallions on unassuming buildings, and in back alleys that are easy to miss. One of the best ways to experience the City is simply to walk the streets of diverse neighborhoods and immerse yourself in the movements and sounds of the City while exploring these layers. This is home to the thousands of groups whose visions, dreams, and hard work have shaped, and are still creating, the past and the future. Not a single day is boring in this city. SSSP members and their families will enjoy a weekend of invigorating dialogues, renewed energy, ever-surprising social and cultural scenes, and rich history.

Keumjae Park
William Paterson University of New Jersey
Chair, Local Arrangements Committee, 2018-2019