The American Revolutionary War saw New York make a rapid transition in an extremely short period of time. Prior to 1785, which is when Congress met for the first time under the Articles of Confederation, New York was largely under British rule. General Washington had lost the area in the Battle of Long Island during the first major conflict when the war broke out.
For nearly ten years, the region was a haven for British loyalists. It served as Britain’s remote base of operations during the conflict, until Washington returned in 1783. November 25th, sometimes recognized today as “Evacuation Day” was the day that British forces finally left New York Town and General Washington marched triumphantly back into the region with his Continental Army.
There was much work to be done. The Constitution needed drafting, and the founders of the United States chose New York as its original capital. They erected Federal Hall on Wall Street, where the first Supreme Court of the United States would sit. Federal Hall is also the location where the Bill of Rights was drafted and ratified.
New York moved away from politics in 1790, when Philadelphia was happy to take up the role. Alexander Hamilton turned New York into the financial hub it is today, opening the Erie Canal and creating pro-growth policies for the region as Secretary of the Treasury.
By 1825, immigration was returning to normal levels and the famous “grid” system of streets was implemented. By 1842, the city had running water piped in from a reservoir. That gave New York some measure of independence, and the ability to scale.