Few cities have inspired such an outpouring of art, writing, music and documentation as New York. Also known as 'The Big Apple', a term coined by musicians meaning 'to play the big time', it is at once a city of high finance, cut-throat lawyers, ad-men, artists and poets.
The island now known as Manhattan was inhabitated by Lenape Native Americans when Dutch colonialists arrived in the 1600s and founded 'New Amsterdam'. From its inception, the city was a political and economic hub. Its name was changed after it was captured by the English in honour of the Duke of York and Albany (later King James II).
The origins of modern New York City lie in the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898, after which the city rapidly industrialised. The five boroughs are Manhattan (1), Brooklyn (2), Queens (3), the Bronx (4) and Staten Island (5).
A big and gritty melting pot of all the immigrant cultures of the world, the city underwent a transformative collective shock on September 11, 2001 with the Al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center. The event that changed history has also changed the city. A softer side to New York has emerged: it is a city united by an outrage, and softened and humbled by tragedy. Following in Jonathan Safran Foer's footsteps, writers will be striving to understand and express the complex transformation wrought by 9/11 for decades to come.
Dresden lies on the banks of the river Elbe in the province of Saxony, Germany. The earliest mention of a settlement was in 1206, when a town began to grow up around a castle built to protect the important trade routes and river crossing near the village of Drežďany.
From the 15th century, Dresden was the residence of Saxon dukes, princes and, eventually, kings. Until the unification of Germany in 1870, masterminded by Otto von Bismarck, Saxony was a sovereign state.
For centuries, Dresden has been a centre of cultural and intellectul activity. The city had its first heydey of art collecting and architecture between 1697 and 1763, when two Saxon electors were crowned King of Poland. Industrial development following Napoleon's rule of the city led to rapid urban development in the 19th century. The population grew to almost 100,000 and the likes of Ludwig Tieck, Carl Maria von Weber, Carl Gustav Carus and Richard Wagner called the city their home.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Dresden was the fourth largest city in the German republic. Despite rapid growth, the city rulers preserved its architectural charm and the city was a popular destination for tourists.
Considered a safe haven for most of World War II, Dresden was largely destroyed by the RAF and USAF bombings and the resulting firestorms of 13-15 February 1945. Up to 25,000 people were killed, and the historic city centre was obliterated. Three months later, the Red Army occupied the city. Many of its important monuments and buildings have subsequently been reconstructed.
Post-war Dresden lay within the Soviet-controlled GDR. Since the re-unification of Germany in 1990, Dresden has regained its status as capital of Saxony, and is once again a popular tourist destination.