New York is known by various nicknames, and the most famous one among all of them is the “Empire State.”
But the question of why is New York called the Empire State always exists.
Why is New York Called the Empire State?
New York county was named the Empire State in the early 19th century, somewhere in 1820.
According to some sources, during the late 18th to early 19th century, there was a surge in New York’s development, and there was a sudden fad of interest in the Roman Empire.
Impact of Rome on New York State
It was so somehow because of the exhibitions from the unearthing of Pompeii, ongoing at the time, that had a strong public impact. And therefore, there was a time in which Rome was “Cool.”
To honour Rome, several towns in New York were given the names of Roman Empire cities and famous people.
For example, they have cities like Syracuse, Utica, Camillus, Cicero, Cincinnatus, Corinth, Ilion, Ithaca, Macedon, Manlius, Marcellus, Minoa, Pompey, Romulus, Salina, Scipio, Ulysses, Virgil, and many more.
Birth Of Empire State
The architecture of these cities took the whole style of Roman architecture.
Apart from this, around this same time, New York state was expanding in all terms, be it growing in population, economy, and infrastructure. So as an outcome of all these factors, the Empire State was born.
You will be amazed to know that New York’s nickname, the “Empire State,” has been incorporated into the names of several state buildings and events, and it is commonly believed to refer to New York’s wealth and the resources of New York.
7 Reasons Why New York is Called the Empire State
There are various etymologies for accepting or adopting the name “Empire State” for New York. However, the exact etymology regarding “why is New York called the Empire State” remains unclear to everyone.
Let us discuss the etymologies regarding why is New York called the Empire State:
These etymologies have puzzled many historians. For example, American writer Paul Eldridge put it as, “Who was the merry wag who crowned the State… [by the State he means the Empire State]? New York would raise a monument to his memory, but he made his grandiose gesture and vanished forever.”
The First Etymological Theory: State’s Wealth and Resources
According to the first etymological theory for why is New York called the Empire State, the nickname Empire State was given due to the State’s wealth and resources available to New York at that time.
The Second Etymological Theory: George Washington
According to the second etymological story for why is New York called the Empire State, it is believed that for the very first time, the name Empire State was used by George Washington as early as 1785.
He used it while referring to the State of New York as “the Seat of the Empire.”
The Third Etymological Theory: Alexander Clarence Flick
According to the third etymological theory for why is New York called the Empire State, Alexander Clarence Flick, the author who wrote the book “History of New York State,” stated that “The Empire State” was “universally acknowledged and accepted” by 1825 itself.
And the name Empire State was started using during early 1819. However, Alexander Clarence Flick did not provide any supporting proof against this claim.
However, he claimed that New York state’s nickname became universally acknowledged by 1825, the year of completion of the construction of the Erie Canal.
The Fourth Etymological Theory: Alexander Clarence Flick & John Jacob Anderson
According to the fourth etymological theory for why New York is called the Empire State, Flick and his coauthor John Jacob Anderson claimed that-
“New York is called the Empire State not only because of the vastness of the State’s resources. They also mentioned that it so conspicuously illustrates the imperial power of law-abiding liberty among the people.”
The Fifth Etymological Theory: Population
The fifth etymological theory for why is New York called the Empire State says that New York was larger than Virginia in terms of population; therefore, it got the name Empire State.
The Sixth Etymological Theory: Trade Routes
The sixth etymological theory for why is New York called the Empire State says that New York got the name Empire State because of the aggressive trade routes that New York had.
The Seventh Etymological Theory: Milton M. Klein
According to the seventh etymological theory for why New York is called the Empire State, another author named Milton M. Klein proposed in his “The Empire State: A History of New York” that New York’s nickname The Empire State.
He further claimed that, by 1820, it was clear that “Empire State” was in wide use, though he was doubtful regarding the clear origin of the term.
It may be because of the success of the Black Ball Line in 1818 that gave the advantage of regularity of shipping to New York’s merchants over others.
Proof of Any Theory For New York State to Be Called Empire State
To your wonder, let us tell you that none of the theories has been proven yet.
However, one commonly accepted etymological theory says that, when Washington was given a full map of New York before the Battle of New York, he remarked on New York’s natural geographic advantages, proclaiming New York the “Seat of an Empire” and that’s how New York got the name “Empire State.”
Another unsubstantiated story that talked about the existence of Washington said that the best-documented source is a thank-you letter dated April 10, 1785, to the New York Common Council for bestowing upon him the Freedom of the City.
Apart from praising New York’s resilience in the war, he describes the State of New York as “the Seat of the Empire.”
Use of Nickname of New York State
Regardless of the exact origin of the nickname, it has been used throughout the State of New York.
For example, the Empire State Building, The Empire State Plaza, and The Empire State Express (a train route of the New York Central Railroad established in 1891).
Others would include Empire Service, the Amtrak route from NYC to Buffalo, SUNY Empire State College (established in 1971), and Empire State Games (established in 1978 as an Olympic-style competition).
Empire State Building
Until the completion of the north tower of the World Trade Center in 1970, Manhattan’s Empire State Building which was opened in the year 1931, was the world’s tallest building.
But, after the attack of September 11 on the north tower of the World Trade Center, Manhattan’s Empire State once again gained the title of the world’s tallest building until World Trade Center claimed the title.
World’s Tallest Building
The most iconic structure of the Empire State is the Erastus Corning Tower which is the tallest building in New York.
You will be amazed to know that because New York was called the Empire State, the State of Georgia was known as the “Empire State of the South” before the American Civil War during the antebellum period.
At that time, the State of Georgia had the second-largest land area east of the Mississippi River, and because of this, it was industrialized rapidly.
The actual reason ‘Why is New York Called the Empire State’ is still unavailable; we very well know the significance that the name has in the State.
But hope this article adds up information to your question about why NY is called an empire state.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What’s the difference between empire and city-states?
The initial area a population ruled and the land they conquered are both parts of an empire. A city-state is autonomous, whereas an empire includes both its original territory and any territories it has conquered, which may have included former city-states.
2. What state’s nickname is the Empire State?
New York City is nicknamed the Empire State.
3. What was New York originally called?
In honour of the Duke of York, who led the operation, New Amsterdam was renamed from New Amsterdam to New York once it was taken.
The Dutch West India Company established the territory of New Netherlands in 1624, and it expanded to include all of modern-day New York City as well as portions of Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey.