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Boundaries of State-Area in Square Miles, Burr's Atlas-Boards of Supervisors' ReturnsAcres, in State Census-Conflicting Estimates-Census Area Adopted-Square Miles Improved Square Miles Unimproved-Acres Improved-Unimproved-Per cent of Unimproved to Improved, in Groups-Topography-Three Ranges of Mountains-Country west of Mountains-Taconic System-Rivers-Water Power Uncertain-Facility for Reaching Coal-Effect on Water Power-State Manufacturing Centre-Divided into Groups-Why-Groups and Names of-Per cent of Surface in Each.


The State of New York is situated between 40° 30 min. and 45o north latitude, and between 5o 5 min. of east and 2° 55 min. of west longitude from the city of Washington. It is bounded on the south in part by the Atlantic ocean, by the States of New Jersey and Pennsylvania; west by part of Pennsylvania, Lake Erie and Niagara river; north by Lake Ontario, part of the river St. Lawrence and of Canada East; east by the States of Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The area, according to Burr's Atlas, is 46,200 square miles, or 29,568,000


The returns of the boards of supervisors of the several counties of the land assessed by the town assessors give an aggregate of 43,164 square miles, or 27,624,782 acres.

The aggregate returned by the State Census of 1855 is 41,809 square miles, or 26,758,182 acres. The difference between the two extremes is about 3,000,000 of acres.

The first estimate includes all the surface covered with water, which reaches not far from a million of acres. The census does not include nonresident and waste lands. The lands occupied by cities and villages, and corporations or roads, or the small freeholds around cities and villages, which in the aggregate, occupy an increasing portion of the available lands of the State, are not included*. The real quantity of land will be found not far from 28,000,000 of acres, and at that quantity it is safe to place the area of the State.

But the figures and deductions of this report are based upon the quantity returned by the census.

The census area is 41,809 square miles, whereof there are:


21,340 square miles.





Reduced to imperial or federal acres at 640 to the square mile, and we have:

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Of the unimproved lands of this State there will ultimately be brought into use in the several groups as follows:

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....... 6,200,000 do

Whereof only a small portion will be arable, but most of it must be natural pasturage and meadow. Nearly all of the arable land of the State is now under cultivation. The proportion which exists between arable and grass will be largely in favor of grass lands hereafter.


Surface. The State lies upon that portion of the Appalachian mountain system where the mountains generally assume the character of hills, and finally sink to a line of the lowlands that surround the great depression filled by Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence river.

Three distinct ranges or mountain masses enter the State from the south, and extend across in a general northeast direction. The first or most east erly of these ranges (a continuation of the Blue Ridge of Virginia) enters the State from New Jersey and extends northeasterly through Rockland and Orange counties, to the Hudson river, and appears on the east side of that river, and forms the highlands of Putnam and Dutchess counties. A northerly extension of the same range passes into the Green mountains of western Massachusetts and Vermont. This range culminates in the high lands upon the Hudson. The highest peaks are 1,000 to 1,700 feet above tide. The rocks which compose these mountains are principally primitive or igneous, and the mountains themselves are rough, rocky and precipitous, and unfit for cultivation.

The second series of mountains enter the State from Pennsylvania, and extend northeast through Sullivan, Ulster and Greene counties, terminating and culminating in the Catskill mountains, upon the Hudson. The highest peaks are 3,000 to 3,800 feet above tide. The Shawangunk mountains, a high and continuous range extending between Sullivan and Orange counties, and into the south part of Ulster, is the extreme east range of this series.

The Helderberg and Hellibash mountains are spurs extending north from the main range into Albany and Schoharie counties. This whole mountain system is principally composed of the rocks of the New York system, above the Medina sand-stone. The summits are generally crowned with old red sand-stone, and with the conglomerate of the coal measures. The declivities are steep and rocky, and a large share of the surface is too rough for cultivation. The highest peaks overlook the Hndson, and from their summits are obtained some of the finest views in eastern New York.

The third series of mountains enters the State from Pennsylvania, and extends northeast through Broome, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Montgomery and Herkimer counties, to the Mohawk; appears upon the north side of that river, and extends north-east, forming the whole series of high lands that occupy the northeast part of the State, and generally

known as the Adirondack mountain region. South of the Mohawk this mountain system assumes the form of broad, irregular hills, occupying a wide space of country. It is broken by deep ravines of the streams, and in many places the hills are steep and nearly precipitous. The valley of the Mohawk breaks the continuity of the range, though the connection is easily traced at Little Falls, the Noses, and at other places. North of the Mohawk the high lands extend in several distinct ranges, all terninating upon Lake Champlain. The culminating point of the whole system, and the highest mountain in the State, is Mount Marcy, 5467 feet above tide. The rocks of this region are principally of igneous origin, and the mountains are usually wild, rugged and rocky. A large share of the surface is unfit for cultivation, but the region is rich in minerals, and especially in an excellent variety of iron ore.

West of these ranges, series of hills, forming spurs of the Alleganies, enter the State from Pennsylvania, and occupy the south half of the west part of the State. An irregular line, extending through the southerly Counties, forms the water-shed that separates the northern and southern drainage; and from it the surface gradually declines northward until it finally terminates in the level of Lake Ontario.

The portion of the State lying south of this water-shed, and occupying the greater part of the two southerly tiers of counties, is entirely occupied by these hills. Along the Pennsylvania line they are usually abrupt and are separated by narrow ravines, but towards their summits become broader and less broken. A considerable portion of the high land region is too steep for profitable cultivation, and is best adapted to grazing.

On the eastern border of the State the Taghkanic range of mountains extends more or less into the State and gives character to all that portion which is not covered by the ranges before mentioned.

Nearly the whole of the 2d, 3d and 4th groups are covered with mountains or their foot hills, whose rocks are primary or metamorphic, and the character of the rocks affects the condition of their agriculture. The 5th group rests principally upon sedimentary silicious rocks, and the 6th upon calcarious, or limestone.


There are two general systems of drainage, viz: North and South. The northern pours its accumulated waters into the ocean through the St. Lawrence river, The southern system is divided into four basins, drained by large rivers, which reach the ocean by different routes. The Hudson river reaches the ocean in the bay of New York, flowing south and easterly from some of the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, and then south. The Dela ware, which has its rise among the mountains of the second series in Delaware county, and drains that region, flows southwardly to the ocean through the Delaware bay. The Susquehannah, which has its head in the Catskill range, in Otsego county, drains the whole region from the hills or low mountains of Broome county to the eastern rim of the basin of the Genesee, in Steuben and Allegany counties; and the Allegany, running westerly into the Ohio, drains the country west of the western rim of the valley of the Genesee.

The Genesee river takes its rise in Pennsylvania, and runs north into Lake

Ontario. Through the 5th group it drains a narrow basin. In the 6th it becomes broader, until after the river passes the falls at Rochester.

The power furnished by these rivers and their numerous branches is not sufficiently constant to warrant the expectation of any large manufacturing centres, unless upon those which flow into the basin of the St. Lawrence,

As the sources of these streams are cleared of their forests, the flow of water becomes less regular, and the supply smaller, until it would be quite impracticable to depend upon them for a steady motive power.

The Niagara river and the St. Lawrence furnish a water power which can be cheaply utilized, and is practically without limit in extent, dura bility and equable flow. Many of the rivers flowing into Lake Ontario and into the St. Lawrence furnish immense hydraulic power, which has only to be utilized to become the centres of immense manufacturing towns.

Still, the facility for reaching the coal fields of Pennsylvania, and the inexhaustible supply of fuel which can thus be cheaply furnished, will for a long time prevent the occupation of the power that now runs to waste Yet the day must come when any available waterfall will be made the centre of a busy manufacturing population.

This State contains in its soil and climate, its motive power, and the facilities for marketing the surplus of its labor, or of procuring the raw material for its artisans, the power of becoming the great manufacturing centre of the Union.

Legislation which by any proper means increases these facilities, is wisely bestowed.


In a State so diversified as New York in its topography, climate and soil, no just idea can be given of the value of its land, the condition of its agriculture and the tendency of its population, except by larger geogra phical divisions than those represented in its several counties. Counties are only arbitrary creations for municipal or civic purposes; and their condition or valuation in regard to other counties must depend upon soil and location. Adequate results in regard to the true condition of all the counties can only be obtained by generalization.

To gather facts relative to the various industries of the sixty counties of the State, and to compare those facts and draw proper conclusions, requires an amount of labor that few care to bestow upon the subject. But if these several counties were grouped into appropriate divisions, the task would be easy of accomplishment.

For civil polity we have them grouped into congressional, senatorial and judicial districts. It is equally important for the purposes of a proper repre sentation of the condition of their agricultural and other industrial pursuits.

In grouping these, reference should be had to their topography, similarity of soil, climate, and peculiarities of cultivation, as well as the means for concentrating a large population, the proximity of a market, and the facili ties for reaching it from all parts of the territory.

A part of the State's surface is mountainous, another part is traversed by short ranges of mountains, and is broken into hill and dale; another is simply rolling or hilly, abounding in hills of moderate elevation, crowned with narrow plateaus, and divided by deep and narrow valleys. Still another

is comparatively a broad level tract, nearly resembling an open champaign country. The soil is as various as the topography, for while a part is fertile and abounds in the elements of perpetual fertility and the profitable cultivation of grain, other portions are comparatively sterile, and can only be used for the production of grass.

The grouping, then, has brought those counties together which most resemble each other in their general features and in their system of agriculture. And although they are not completely accurate in their outline, inasmuch as counties could not be divided, yet for all practical uses the divisions will be found sufficiently accurate to serve the purpose designed.


The divisions or groups are named as follows:

I. Atlantic or Long Island.

II. Eastern counties or Hudson river.

III. Catskill or South Highlands.

IV. St. Lawrence or North Highlands.

V. Central and Southwestern or dairy counties.

VI. Ontario Lake or Wheat.

First Group.-The first group contains the island of Manhattan, Long Island and Staten Island, and the small adjacent islands, and includes the city and county of New York, and the counties of Kings, Queens, Suffolk and Richmond-5.

Second Group. The second group contains the counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Columbia, Rensselaer and Washington-6.

Third Group.-The third group contains the counties of Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Greene, Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery, Schoharie, Otsego, Delaware, Sullivan-11.

Fourth Group.-The fourth group contains the counties of Saratoga, Warren, Essex, Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Herkimer, Hamilton and Fulton-9.

Fifth Group.-The fifth group contains the counties of Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, Oneida, Madison, Cortland, Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga, Broome, Chenango, Steuben, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Wyoming-18.

Sixth Group.-The sixth group contains the counties of Onondaga, Cayuga, Wayne, Seneca, Ontario, Yates, Livingston, Monroe, Orleans, Genesee and Niagara-11.

The proportion of each group to aggregate general area of State, and to aggregate of improved area, is

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The accompanying map of the State indicates at a glance the outline of the several groups.






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