Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises

New York

The Empire State

This city is often thought to be the center of the world. New York, the most populous city in the United States (US), is the capital of culture, finance, media and international diplomacy.

Its five counties – Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island are all famous in their own special ways.

With nearly 9 million inhabitants, New York is also the most linguistically diverse city in the world where 800 different languages are spoken. Being a city that never sleeps, New York is a dream destination for many.

New York City Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises

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A Brief History of New York

  • The first Europeans who settled in the area in 1609 were from the Netherlands. They named the colony New Amsterdam.
  • In 1664, the British conquered the colony and renamed it New York.
  • After the War of Independence, New York City served as the first capital of the United States for only a year, until the role was transferred to Philadelphia.
  • George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on the steps of the Federal Hall on Wall Street.
  • In 1898, the modern City of New York was formed with the consolidation of several counties and Brooklyn, which had been a separate city until then.
  • Now, New York is the center of international affairs, hosting the headquarters of the United Nations.

Manhattan and Jersey City


Times Square

Although called a square, Times Square is in fact an entire neighborhood in Manhattan, famous as a major commercial intersection, entertainment center and a place with most flashing billboards and advertisements.

On certain days, more than 400,000 people walk through Times Square, which makes it one of the world's busiest pedestrian areas.

This busy neighborhood, which got its name when The New York Times moved its headquarters there, attracts every single tourist who comes to New York City. For this reason, it is called "The Crossroads of the World".

Times Square in New York City

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty is a colossal copper statue located on the Liberty Island in New York Harbor. This statue, a gift from the people of France, was built by Gustave Eiffel, who also constructed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The statue is a figure of a woman representing Libertas (Latin for Liberty), a Roman goddess representing the concept Liberty. She is holding a torch and a tablet (tabula ansata) where the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is inscribed.

Libertas also has broken chains at her feet as a symbol of freedom. During past migrations, the Statue served as a welcoming sight to many immigrants arriving on ships.

Statue of Liberty

Brooklyn Bridge

This remarkable structure over the East River is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the U.S. Connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, it is a favorite site for both tourists and locals, open for pedestrians and traffic.

Brooklyn Bridge is one the most easily recognizable symbols of the city, having appeared in wide shots in many Hollywood movies. The structure has also inspired many painters and playwrights.

Brooklyn bridge

The Skyscrapers of New York

Extremely tall buildings are such a common thing in New York City that sometimes passengers on the street feel like they can't see the sky.

The Chrysler Building, unique for its roof, is 319m (1,046 feet) tall, yet, it lost its status as the tallest building in 1931. It was built during the New York City's building boom, when different corporations were competing to build the world's tallest building.

With 102 floors, the Empire State Building was the tallest in the world for four decades. This breathtaking structure is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and its name also serves as a nickname for the city.

At the moment, the tallest building in New York is the recently-opened One World Trade Center. This 541 m (1,776 feet) tall architectural masterpiece was built in an effort to memorialize the original World Trade Center destroyed in a terrorist attack.

New York Central Park

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "consolidation" mean?
    1. asking for someone's opinion
    2. combining several things into one more effective piece
    3. dividing one city into several districts

  2. What does "inaugurate" mean?
    1. to admit someone to office or an official position
    2. to be a presidential candidate
    3. to finish your term as a public official

  3. What does "colossal" mean?
    1. made of concrete
    2. extremely large or great
    3. hard to break or destroy

  4. What does "pedestrian" mean?
    1. the side of the road where people walk
    2. a place where people cross the street
    3. a person walking, traveling on foot

  5. What does "infamous" mean?
    1. well known in New York
    2. well known for being amazing
    3. well known for some bad quality

Collocation Questions

  1. Brooklyn was ____________ city until 1898.
    1. an independent
    2. a separate
    3. a distinct

  2. Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most easily ____________ symbols of New York.
    1. noticeable
    2. remembered
    3. recognizable

  3. The date of the Declaration of Independence is ____________ on the tablet.
    1. marked
    2. inscribed
    3. written

  4. One World Trade Center is an architectural ____________.
    1. masterpiece
    2. wonder
    3. triumph

  1. The Statue of Liberty served as ____________ sight to immigrants arriving on ships.
    1. an embracing
    2. an inviting
    3. a welcoming

  1. The new building was built in ____________ to memorialize the original World Trade Center.
    1. an effort
    2. an attempt
    3. order

  1. Times Square is filled with ____________ billboards.
    1. flashing
    2. shining
    3. sparkling

  2. New York hosts the ____________ of the United Nations.
    1. base
    2. center
    3. headquarters

  3. The Chrysler Building was built during the building ____________.
    1. expansion
    2. boom
    3. explosion

  4. New York is a city that never ____________.
    1. rests
    2. takes a break
    3. sleeps

Wh Questions

  1. Where was the inauguration of the first US President held?
    1. In Washington, D.C.
    2. In Philadelphia.
    3. In New York City.

  2. Why is Times Square called "The Crossroads of the World"?
    1. Because it is where Russian and American politicians meet.
    2. Because it gathers thousands of tourists from all over the world.
    3. Because it connects the East and West of the US.

  3. Which building is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World?
    1. Empire State Building.
    2. One World Trade Center.
    3. Chrysler Building.

  4. Who were the first foreign settlers in New York?
    1. the German
    2. the British
    3. the Dutch
  1. How was New York called in 1609?
    1. New Amsterdam
    2. York
    3. New Hampshire

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. You can walk or ride your bicycle across the Brooklyn Bridge.
    2. Due to large inflows of traffic, Brooklyn Bridge is closed for pedestrians.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. New York City was the capital of the US until the role was transferred to Philadelphia.
    2. New York City was the capital of the US until the role was transferred to Washington D.C.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "When it was built in 1930, the Chrysler Building was the tallest building in New York."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Gustave Eiffel never made any other famous structures apart from the Eiffel Tower in Paris."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. B | 2. A | 3. B | 4. C | 5. C | 6. B | 7. C | 8. B | 9. A | 10. C | 11. A | 12. A | 13. C | 14. B | 15. C | 16. C | 17. B | 18. A | 19. C | 20. A |21. A | 22. B | 23. A | 24. B

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