Facebook will open an engineering office in New York, the company announced at an impromptu event at its site there Friday. Applications are now being accepted.

Facebook's chief marketing officer, Sheryl Sandberg, hosted the event, joined by the company's Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

New York has a strong history of innovation and is home to thousands of talented technical people, and we want them to help us solve the challenges of designing and building the next generation of Facebook, Schroepfer said.

Bloomberg proudly announced that the new office is Facebook's first engineering operation outside the West Coast, and he urged engineers and other high-technology companies to move to New York.

I think you'll find this is the best place to recruit and retain the world's top talent, Bloomberg said. Don't wait for your competitors to move here and get the best talent.

Schumer did his best to keep the conference light, noting how he and Bloomberg actually met one Facebook employee over 26.

It's hard to say that a company has changed the way we live, Schumer began -- leading Sandberg to shout from the side, Go ahead, say it -- but, Schumer continued, In the case of Facebook, it really has.

Sandberg did not mention how many engineers Facebook would hire next year in New York. Currently, the Web site lists 15 available positions for software engineers, sales interns, and finance and advertising strategists.

We'll hire as much as we can, Sandberg said. She added Facebook will likely need more office space.

Sandberg did not comment on whether Facebook would send engineers from its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., to its offices in New York or if company co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg would spend more time in New York.

Zuckerberg recently said that if he could begin Facebook all over again, he would kept the company's headquarters on the East Cost, in Boston, instead of moving out to Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg founded the social network in 2004 with Harvard University classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin in nearby Cambridge, Mass.

Zuckerberg's choice to expand in New York makes sense. After all, Zuckerberg lived in the East his entire life. Born in White Plains, N.Y., Zuckerberg lived in nearby Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., before attending Harvard. Zuckerberg's girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, is also a native of the Boston suburbs.

New York is a great option for a company like Facebook seeking to expand. New York startups account for 33 percent of all investments on the East Coast. Most dabble in digital media and e-commerce, like Facebook. New York is also one of the best cities for entertainment and advertising, so Facebook could have taken advantage of being so close to these partner industries.

Currently, Zuckerberg shuttles between Facebook's Palo Alto location and its enormous new campus in nearby Menlo Park, the former home of Sun Microsystems.