The London merchants represented external pressure upon New York's political and economic system. After 1674 two major internal developments also influenced the proprietary: the changing social structure, particularly the distribution of wealth, reveals the growing economic power of New York City, while the Dutch community felt increasing pressures from the continuing process of Anglicization. The effects of both of these trends were not as dramatic as the intrusion of the London merchants. However, as problems mounted in New York during the 1680s their impact would help shatter the colony.
A coherent view of New York society becomes possible for the years after 1674 because of a rising number of tax and census records generated by local government in response to demands of the central government. It is, however, a snapshot that captures only a few aspects of life. Mobility patterns are difficult to ascertain, as are the colors and textures of daily life. One thing immediately obvious, even under these conditions, is the variety of community life in New York. Perhaps the most illustrative extremes are Southampton and Albany. Founded by New England Puritans, Southampton conformed to many of the stereotypes of New England communities: a few streets of weathered clapboard houses sheltering a stern congregation playing out the dynamics of puritanism in America. In other regards it did not conform, for Southampton's whalers and Indians pursued the great whales for their oil and attracted merchants from New York City and Boston eager to exchange manufactured goods for the boiled-down residue of their catches.