View Full Version : Connection between NYC and 'Empire'

November 12th, 2003, 11:16 AM
Hello everybody here,

it might be a stupid question, but why does the word “Empire” appears so often in connection with NYC, e.g. Empire State Building, Empire State College, etc..? Is it connected to the design style “Empirismus” or was/is an area in NYC named Empire or so?


Matt (from Hamburg)

November 12th, 2003, 12:30 PM
Not the design style, no, and not a stupid question either.

New York City has been called the "Empire City" because it has always been like a business empire - an extensive enterprise under a city charter. City and state combined, New York state is nicknamed the "Empire State" because of its vast wealth and variety of resources.

November 12th, 2003, 12:57 PM
Great summary, NY@Knight. Here's some more info. until a historian jumps on board.

After eight years of construction, New York State completed the Erie Canal in 1825 without federal help. It opened trade with the middle of the country via the Great Lakes and helped to cement New York City's dominance as the financial and business center of the nation.

A safe, federalist explanation: http://www.nyhistory.com/empire.htm

A link to a flash presentation suitable for students:
The Erie Canal: A Journey Through History

A link to a poorly constructed slide presentation by a university professor:
How New York Became the Empire State
http://geography.unco.edu/department/faculty/johnson/How%20New%20York%20became%20the%20Empire%20State_f iles/frame.htm#slide0001.htm

November 12th, 2003, 02:54 PM
I'm no historian, but I also heard it's related to the Erie Canal. The canal had a tremendous impact on the nation, and cemented New York City's role at the economic heart of it.

The Erie Canal inspired an "imperial" pride in New York's future and led many small towns to draw their names from history: Rome, Syracuse, Troy, Albany, Ithaca, etc.

November 13th, 2003, 10:30 AM
New York happens to also have a perfect state motto: Excelsior ("ever upward").

November 14th, 2003, 07:00 AM
Thanks to all, for answering my question.

While I can imagine the enormous impression New York’s economical power surly had made onto the people back then, I find it quite surprising that the Americans, who had just fought to free themselves from the British Empire, would use the word Empire with admiration.


Matthias Noch

November 14th, 2003, 02:31 PM
While I can imagine the enormous impression New York’s economical power surly had made onto the people back then, I find it quite surprising that the Americans, who had just fought to free themselves from the British Empire, would use the word Empire with admiration.

Two comments on this.

First, "manifest destiny" and the settling of the West, which brought New York its economic success, absolutely had an ugly side that rivaled anything the British ever did.

But second, remember that any American concepts of "Empire" at this time were merely optimistic visions of the nation's (or the city's) future potential. Compared with Europe's economy, America was a backwater. Upstate New York was still the frontier. NYC was a squallid and dangerous boomtown.

Jack Ryan
November 16th, 2003, 05:07 PM
Back when I was a bicycle messenger I ran into Stan Lee, the legendary comic book creator and as his autograph he wrote 'To Jack-Excelsior!!-Stan Lee'. I asked him why the 'Excelsior' and he said "Its the state I'm in."

November 16th, 2003, 06:56 PM
The Erie Canal inspired an "imperial" pride in New York's future and led many small towns to draw their names from history: Rome, Syracuse, Troy, Albany, Ithaca, etc.
This seems to make sense, but the towns predated the canal.

New York Historical Society:

Why are there so many towns and cities with classical names in New York State?

Many of the towns were named between 1790 and 1830 when memories of Revolutionary War battles fought against the British and their American Indian allies were still raw. The result was most likely a reluctance to use English or native-American place names and to rely on the dignity of ancient names, then enjoying a general resurgence as part of a neo-classical revival in architecture, furniture, and clothing styles. Nonetheless, the nearly 200 classical names were so prevalent in New York that they were remarked upon, often satirically, as early as 1819. Commentators placed the responsibility on Simeon DeWitt, the state Surveyor-General who surveyed a large tract of land in 1790 and produced a new map littered with towns bearing classical names. DeWitt finally denied responsibility, claiming that he "knew nothing of these obnoxious names" until they were officially communicated to him. They were the work, he asserted, of commissioners in the state Land Office.


Flick, Alexander C., ed. History of the State of New York. Vol 10, The Empire State. Port Washington, N.Y.: Ira J. Friedman, Inc., 1962, c1937.

Rennie, John R. Representing the Republic: Mapping the United States, 1600-1900. London: Reaktion, 2001.

I read somewhere that after the Revolutionary War, the new country was broke, and paid the army with land in upstate New York.

November 17th, 2003, 10:57 AM
I stand corrected. Thanks for the clarification, Zip!

TLOZ Link5
November 17th, 2003, 03:06 PM
Nice names for those cities; we can add Utica to that list also. Too bad currently they've all seen brighter days. Syracuse might get a boost from DestiNY, however; so long as we're on that subject, does anything think there's much hope?

It'd be nice if the entire state of New York could be revitalized in the same way NYC has been. Imagine Buffalo becoming a Manhattan on Lake Erie.

November 17th, 2003, 06:58 PM
November 16, 2003

Hope for the Upstate Economy in the Next Wave of Computer Chips


ALBANY, Nov. 15 — Workers are still putting the finishing touches on NanoFab 300 South, a futuristic building of blue glass and white steel just erected here.

The name is geek-speak for a factory that makes microchips on a wafer-thin copper and silicon disc 300 millimeters — about a foot — in diameter. It is in keeping with Gov. George E. Pataki's hope that what is going on within the building's immaculate innards will somehow transfigure the moribund and rusting upstate economy into a hive of cutting-edge industry.

Next to NanoFab 300 South, a second building is already going up: NanoFab 300 North. As construction workers in hard hats crawl over the structure, welding and hammering, research scientists from the state university, the consortium International Sematech, I.B.M. and Tokyo Electron Limited have begun moving enormous machines into the first building, where they hope the next generation of microscopic computer chips will be born.

"It's the size of it, the critical mass," says Alain E. Kaloyeros, the center's executive director. "The governor put in place the level of investment that really makes New York unique."

The loss of manufacturing jobs across the northern and western parts of the state has stumped Mr. Pataki and other state leaders for years, and has become a political liability. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who won her campaign in New York in 2000 partly because of the faltering economy upstate, recently announced that she was forming a commission to study the problem.

To a large degree, Mr. Pataki has staked his legacy on what is happening in the buildings here, under a program called Albany NanoTech, and at four other research and development sites across the state.

For three years, he has declared repeatedly that his dream is to turn the old Erie Canal corridor into a place where new technologies are developed and futuristic products made. His aides say Mr. Pataki wants the five state-sponsored research centers — nonprofit partnerships among the state, universities and private corporations — not only to make scientific breakthroughs, but also to build prototypes.

What is unusual about the Pataki administration's effort is that the state itself has pledged $620 million for the next five years to help develop technology that could be turned into commercially viable products. In the past, most of the cash for research into chip-making and other scientific advances came from the federal government or the private sector.

"He's way ahead of the curve relative to the other states," said an I.B.M. senior vice president, John E. Kelly III.

It remains a matter of debate whether these gambles will pay off with a large number of jobs anytime soon. Mr. Pataki and his aides hope the new technology developed at the research centers, along with the workers trained there, will lure chip plants and other high-tech manufacturers to the region.

But some analysts say there is always the danger that the businesses will simply take the technology and run, building the products overseas, where labor is cheap and environmental laws weaker. That has been the trend in recent years — develop technology here but build chip fabrication plants overseas, in places like Taiwan and China, where huge new markets await — rather than in the United States.

"Where you put that plant has more to do with the cost of building and government incentives than just about anything else," said Kevin Krewell, the senior editor of Microprocessor Report, an industry journal. "Where the technology is developed has little to do with where you actually put the plant."

The governor's aides, however, cite I.B.M. as an exception to that rule. In 2001, I.B.M. built a $2.5 billion chip-fabrication plant at its corporate park in Fishkill, N.Y., after the state provided more than $500,000 in tax incentives, grants and loans.

To attract other chip makers, the administration has already identified seven sites for chip plants, built the preliminary infrastructure and promised to expedite the issuing of all necessary permits.

The chip-making industry is not one that employs large numbers of factory workers with minimal education, analysts point out. Fabrication plants are highly automated and run by engineers. History suggests that the big boost in jobs is more likely to come from the dozens of companies that supply a research and development center with everything from silicon to coffee cups, as well as the ripple effect of small companies that spin off as researchers try to find niche markets.

"You want the spinoff, new companies starting," said Douglas Henton, president of Collaborative Economics, a consulting firm that helped Austin, Tex., and Raleigh, N.C., develop high-tech centers. "That's where you really see the real job impact."

Mr. Henton added, "The immediate impact on jobs may be slow, but the long-term impact may be large."

So far, New York's five research and development centers have created few new jobs. About 350 researchers are working at the center in Albany, but most of them are highly educated transplants from other states. The hope is that about 1,000 people will have jobs there by the summer of 2005, Dr. Kaloyeros said.

Those jobs are being created against a backdrop of anemic job growth across the state. According to the Business Council of New York State, upstate New York has lost one in five manufacturing jobs over the last five years, about 91,000 positions. Total employment has grown very slightly, mostly because of a growth in government jobs and a slight uptick in service industries.

Mr. Pataki has said that the only way to stop the exodus of factory jobs is to develop new industries, which is why he and legislative leaders are putting the state's money on fostering high-tech breakthroughs.

Besides investing $380 million into the Albany research center, the state is spending $110 million to help build a similar center devoted to computerized genetic research in Buffalo. Another $43 million in state money is being used to rehabilitate an old Xerox research plant in Rochester to serve as a center for research into infotonics, the use of light to transmit energy and information.

In Syracuse, $37 million in state aid has been invested for equipment and a building where researchers will perform experiments intended to improve environmental systems, like air-conditioning. The state also plans to invest $50 million in a center on Long Island for research into better wireless communications.

The Albany center for nanoelectronics and the search for computer chips on a molecular scale is much closer to being up and running than the others, state officials say.

"For 20 years we have been providing money for basic research, and the governor wanted to go beyond that," said one of Mr. Pataki's senior policy advisers, Jeffrey Lovell. "We are trying to use the universities as economic engines rather than just having these guys sit back and do their basic research."

Not surprisingly, executives in the semiconductor industry applaud the state's contributions. In fact, Mr. Pataki was named Man of the Year last week by the Semiconductor Industry Association in San Jose, Calif., in the first presentation of the award to an elected official.

"He is functioning as a catalyst to embrace the development of technology in the state," said the association president, George Scalise. "They are making a major investment in the facilities. That is very important, bold and unique in our view."

Other executives said the award came about largely because of lobbying within the trade organization by I.B.M., which has invested $100 million in the Albany NanoTech center. I.B.M. is also a member of International Sematech, a consortium that has put $160 million into a research project at NanoFab and is one of the investors backing Tokyo Electron Limited's research, a $200 million commitment to be matched with $100 million from the state.

Dr. Kaloyeros says the NanoTech research effort is unique in several ways. First, when both buildings are completed next year, the researchers will have more clean-room space — 60,000 square feet of dustless area for chip fabricating and other work — than any other university-based research center in the world.

The Albany research center, a subsidiary of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York, has insisted, in its agreements with corporations, that it must own the $300 million of equipment at the center, which means the center itself has control over an assembly line for producing prototypes of the newest generation of chips. As a result, the companies that do research there cannot simply walk away, and university researchers are guaranteed time on the equipment, Dr. Kaloyeros said.

Finally, the center will be operating as a training ground for workers seeking jobs in the chip industry, from engineers to factory workers with two-year associate degrees.

In the end, the success of Mr. Pataki's effort may depend on things out of his control. The technology industry has been in a prolonged downturn and there has not been much new investment in chip plants in the United States in the last three years.

In the last two weeks, however, the semiconductor trade association and other analysts have predicted almost a 20 percent increase in demand for chips next year.

If it happens, the governor is betting the Albany NanoTech facility will be poised to catch the wave.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company