New York City is one of the most culturally influential cities in the world, and over the course of its history it has produced numberous celebrated and pioneering artists, writers and filmmakers, all of whom have taken inspiration from the city. New York State was originally inhabited by Algonquian and Iroquoian speaking Native American tribes but the first European colonisers were the Dutch, who settled the colony of New Amsterdam near present day New York City. The British annexed the colony in 1664 and the state was a central battleground of the Revolutionary War. In the 19th century the metropolitan area of New York City grew rapidly as the city became a gateway for immigrants to the United States. The millions of immigrants who entered America through the city contributed to the great diversity of New York City, with various distinct ethnic communities coexisting within its five boroughs. Over the course of the 20th century New York became a global financial and cultural centre to rival Paris and London.
The city has welcomed and produced a host of writers from all walks of life, who have been inspired by the distinctive character of New York’s urban life and melting pot society. The city was the cradle of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 30s, which brought African American writers such as Nella Larsen and Langston Hughes to prominence. New York was also the centre of the Jazz Age in the 1920s, and this is exemplified in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby. In the 1950s and 60s it became the focus for the Beat Generation, a group of poets and writers such as Allen Ginsberg that rebelled against the staid conformity of their society. Other writers who have written classic works about New York society and life include Tom Wolfe, JD Salinger, Saul Bellow, Paul Auster and John Dos Passos.
New York is also one of the centres of the international art world and in the 1940s and 50s was the home of the Abstract Expressionist movement, through which artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman revolutionised art in America. Several decades later New York artist Andy Warhol would do the same with his Pop Art.
Cinematically New York has been the location for an extensive list of films, both independent and Hollywood productions, to the extent that the city has become a cinematic icon itself. The most characteristically New York of directors is perhaps Woody Allen who made classic New York films such as Annie Hall and Manhattan. Another director who has used New York to great effect is Martin Scorsese whose films Taxi Driver and Mean Streets focus on the underbelly of this great city.