New York covers 54,475
sq miles (141,089 kmē). In size, New York ranks 27th compared with
the other 50 states. The Great Appalachian Valley dominates eastern
New York, while Lake Champlain is the chief northern feature of
the valley, which also includes the Hudson River flowing southward
to the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged Adirondack Mountains, with vast
tracts of wilderness, lie west of the valley. Most of the southern
part of the state is on the Allegheny plateau, which rises from
the southeast to the Catskill Mountains.
The western section of
the state is drained by the Allegheny River and rivers of the Susquehanna
and Delaware systems. The Delaware River Basin Compact, signed in
1961 by New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the federal
government, regulates the utilization of water of the Delaware system.
New York's borders touch (clockwise from the north) two Great Lakes
(Erie and Ontario, which are connected by the Niagara River); one
former Great Lake (Lake Champlain); the provinces of Ontario and
Quebec in Canada; three New England states (Vermont, Massachusetts,
and Connecticut); the Atlantic Ocean, and two Mid-Atlantic states
(New Jersey and Pennsylvania).
In addition, Rhode Island
shares a water border with New York. While the state is best known
for New York City's urban atmosphere, especially Manhattan's skyscrapers,
most of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains,
and lakes. New York's Adirondack State Park is larger than any U.S.
National Park outside of Alaska. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River
as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is a popular attraction.
The Hudson River begins with Lake Tear of the Clouds and flows south
through the eastern part of the state without draining Lakes George
or Champlain. Lake George empties at its north end into Lake Champlain,
whose northern end extends into Canada, where it drains into the
Richelieu and then the St Lawrence Rivers. Four of New York City's
five boroughs are on the three islands at the mouth of the Hudson
River: Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Brooklyn and Queens
on Long Island.
"Upstate" is a common
term for New York State counties north of suburban Westchester,
Rockland and Dutchess counties. Upstate New York typically includes
the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, the Shawangunk Ridge, the
Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes in the west; and Lake Champlain,
Lake George, and Oneida Lake in the northeast; and rivers such as
the Delaware, Genesee, Mohawk, and Susquehanna. The highest elevation
in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks.