New York has been, and still is, an important trading location. This was true from the founding days of the city at the mouth of the Hudson River.
When it was a Dutch and English colony in the 1600s, New York's economy was greatly based on the commerce that came through this port. Furs and timber from the interior were brought there for shipment back to Europe. As a result, a growing population of businessmen, insurance firms, banks, and lawyers developed in New York to handle the many details of carrying out this business. Some shipbuilding also took place at the Port of New York.
As agriculture took hold in the fertile Hudson Valley, crops such as wheat, barley, and corn fed not only the colonists, but the economic output of the region overall as much of it was shipped overseas. Most of the agriculture in the colony was based on the manor system, not unlike that of feudal Europe, in which relatively wealthy landowners leased out smaller tracts of their farmland for cultivation by other farmers.
There were also sources of iron-ore found in Adirondack, Hudson Valley, and Finger Lakes regions that were smelted down in local forges. Some of this iron was used locally in manufacturing goods for use by the colonists, while the rest was shipped to Europe for use in manufacturing there.