Book cover art for Geography of New York State

This work can be downloaded for non-commercial purposes:

Creative Commons License logo

Financial Citizenship is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License .

Geography of New York State



“This is probably the most comprehensive geography of the Empire State that has ever been published. . . . It is a must for anyone interested in what makes the state tick.”—Challenge

“This volume would seem to be an indispensable tool for New York historians of the present and future. It ought to serve, also, as a model for other states to emulate. It is a major contribution to our field.”—History News


Here is a book for everyone with a personal or professional interest in the Empire State, an essential source of information for industry, commerce, government, development groups, state and local organizations, teachers, students, and present and prospective residents. Written by professionals in terms understandable to the layperson, this book covers the physical, historical, and economic geography of the state.

Geography of New York State is unique among state geographies in the breadth of its coverage. The first section examines the physical aspects of the state, region by region—its landforms, climate, water, vegetation, and soil. In the second section, the changing pattern of human occupation and use of the land is traced from earliest Indian days to the 1960s.

A discussion of the state’s economic activities makes up the third section. This is an informed, detailed analysis of each of the major economic sectors: agriculture, mining, lumbering, fishing; manufacturing and construction; sales and service. It examines their changing relative importance to the state’s economy and provides a projection of future economic trends. In the fourth section, the nature and potential of urban and rural areas are contrasted, and suggestions are made for rational planning and development regions.

New York’s seven major urban systems are given special attention in the fifth section of the book. Separate chapters offer detailed studies of Albany-Schenectady, Binghamton, Buffalo, New York, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica—their history, physical setting, economic activities, problems, and prospects for future growth. This volume includes three maps of New York State, New York State mineral production, and projected land use. A thirty-two-page supplement, with  updated comments and data, is also available.

John H. Thompson was professor of geography at Syracuse University. He lectured and published extensively on the economic geography of New York State.


Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.