A bill designating Juneteenth as a formal public holiday in New York was signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The day celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is held on June 19, the anniversary of when a Union Army general rode into Texas to take control of the state with federal troops and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Until this year New York had previously observed Juneteenth as a "day of commemoration" called Juneteenth Freedom Day since 2004. 

Through an executive order, Cuomo declared the day a holiday, closing state offices. State lawmakers this summer, spurred by protests and demonstrations against racism and policing, introduced measures to expand the day to a full public holiday. 

Texas was the first state to adopt Juneteenth as an official holiday and 46 states have some sort of commemoration for the day. Juneteenth festivals are also observed on the local level.