There are cracks in the foundation. Nothing structural. Nothing that’s going to threaten the stability of the home, but they’re there. Nooks, crannies and holes through which seeps an invisible threat. Colorless, odorless and undetectable by your average human, it is nonetheless the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon gas – even the name sounds ominous, evoking images of radiation and nuclear devastation. Radon gas is created when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas – especially basements and other low-lying, closed areas – and build up over time to dangerous levels. The Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government has set a threshold of 4 pico curies per liter as the safe level. As humans are exposed to the gas over a period of years, it can have a significant and detrimental effect.
In Manhattan, uptown means north (more precisely north-northeast, which is the direction the island and its street grid system is oriented) and downtown means south (south-southwest). This usage differs from that of most American cities, where downtown refers to the central business district. Manhattan has two central business districts, the Financial District at the southern tip of the island, and Midtown Manhattan. The term uptown also refers to the northern part of Manhattan above 72nd Street and downtown to the southern portion below 14th Street, with Midtown covering the area in between, though definitions can be rather fluid depending on the situation.
Though the grid does start with 1st Street, just north of Houston Street (pronounced HOW-stin), the grid does not fully take hold until north of 14th Street, where nearly all east-west streets are numerically identified, which increase from south to north to 220th Street, the highest numbered street on the island. Streets in Midtown are usually one way with a few exceptions (14th, 34th and 42nd to name a few). The rule of thumb is odd numbered streets run west while evens run east.
In contrast with New York City’s urban atmosphere, the vast majority of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. New York’s Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the United States. It is larger than the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Olympic National Parks combined. New York established the first state park in the United States at Niagara Falls in 1885. Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is a popular attraction.
The Hudson River begins at 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 Saint Lawrence Rivers. Four of New York City’s five boroughs are on three islands at the mouth of the Hudson River: Manhattan Island; Staten Island; and Long Island, which contains Brooklyn and Queens on its western end.
Upstate and downstate are often used informally to distinguish New York City or its greater metropolitan area from the rest of New York State. The placement of a boundary between the two is a matter of great contention. Unofficial and loosely defined regions of Upstate New York include the Southern Tier, which often includes the counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and the North Country, which can mean anything from the strip along the Canadian border to everything north of the Mohawk River.