Borough (New York City)
New York City, in the U.S. state of New York, is composed of five boroughs. They are Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Each borough also has coterminous boundaries as a county of New York State. The county governments were dissolved when New York City consolidated in 1898, along with all city, town, and village governments within each county. If the boroughs were each independent cities, four of the boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and The Bronx) would be among the ten most populous cities in the United States; these same boroughs are coterminous with the four most densely populated counties in the United States (New York [Manhattan], Kings [Brooklyn], Bronx, and Queens).
The term borough was adopted to describe a unique form of governmental administration for each of the five fundamental constituent parts of the newly consolidated city in 1898. Under New York State Law, a "borough" is a municipal corporation that is created when a county is merged with populated areas within it. This differs significantly from typical borough forms of government used in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, other states, Greater London, and elsewhere.
New York City's five boroughs
Sources: see individual borough articles
New York City is often referred to collectively as the five boroughs; the term is used to refer to New York City as a whole unambiguously, avoiding confusion with any particular borough or with the Greater New York metropolitan area. The term is also used by politicians to counter a frequent focus on Manhattan and, thereby, to place all five boroughs on equal footing. In the same vein, the term outer boroughs refers to all of the boroughs excluding Manhattan, even though the geographic center of the city is along the Brooklyn–Queens border.
All of the boroughs were created in 1898 during consolidation, when the city's current boundaries were established. The Bronx originally included parts of New York County outside of Manhattan that had previously been ceded by neighboring Westchester County in two stages, in 1874 and then following a referendum in 1894. The separate present-day Bronx County was not created until 1914.
The borough of Queens consists of what originally was only the western part of a then-larger Queens County; in 1899, the three eastern towns of Queens which had not joined the city the year before formally seceded from Queens County to form the new Nassau County. The borough of Staten Island was officially the borough of Richmond until the name was changed in 1975 to reflect its common appellation.
Description of the boroughs
There are hundreds of distinct neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs of New York City, many with a definable history and character to call their own.
- Manhattan (New York County) is the geographically smallest and most densely populated borough and is home to Central Park and most of the city's skyscrapers. Manhattan's (New York County's) population density of 72,033 people per square mile (27,812/km²) in 2015 makes it the highest of any county in the United States and higher than the density of any individual American city. Manhattan is the cultural, administrative, and financial center of New York City and contains the headquarters of many major multinational corporations, the United Nations Headquarters, Wall Street, and a number of important universities. Manhattan is often described as the financial and cultural center of the world. Most of the borough is situated on Manhattan Island, at the mouth of the Hudson River. Several small islands are also part of the borough of Manhattan, including Randall's Island, Wards Island, and Roosevelt Island in the East River, and Governors Island and Liberty Island to the south in New York Harbor. Manhattan Island is loosely divided into Lower, Midtown, and Uptown regions. Uptown Manhattan is divided by Central Park into the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, and above the park is Harlem. The borough also includes a small neighborhood on the United States mainland, called Marble Hill, which is contiguous with The Bronx. New York City's remaining four boroughs are collectively referred to as the outer boroughs.
- Brooklyn (Kings County), on the western tip of Long Island, is the city's most populous borough. Brooklyn is known for its cultural, social, and ethnic diversity, an independent art scene, distinct neighborhoods, and a distinctive architectural heritage. Downtown Brooklyn is the only central core neighborhood in the outer boroughs. The borough has a long beachfront shoreline including Coney Island, established in the 1870s as one of the earliest amusement grounds in the country. Marine Park and Prospect Park are the two largest parks in Brooklyn.
- Queens (Queens County), on Long Island north and east of Brooklyn, is geographically the largest borough, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States, as well as the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. Historically a collection of small towns and villages founded by the Dutch, the borough has since developed both commercial and residential prominence. Queens is the site of Citi Field, the baseball stadium of the New York Mets, and hosts the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Additionally, two of the three busiest airports serving the New York metropolitan area, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, are located in Queens. (The third is Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey.)
- Staten Island (Richmond County) is the most suburban in character of the five boroughs. Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and to Manhattan by way of the free Staten Island Ferry, a daily commuter ferry and popular tourist attraction which provides unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan. In central Staten Island, the Staten Island Greenbelt spans approximately 2,500 acres (10 km2), including 28 miles (45 km) of walking trails and one of the last undisturbed forests in the city. Designated in 1984 to protect the island's natural lands, the Greenbelt comprises seven city parks.
- The Bronx (Bronx County) is New York City's northernmost borough and the only New York City borough with a majority of it a part of the mainland United States. It is the location of Yankee Stadium, the baseball stadium of the New York Yankees, and home to the largest cooperatively owned housing complex in the United States, Co-op City. It is also home to the Bronx Zoo, the world's largest metropolitan zoo, which spans 265 acres (1.07 km2) and houses over 6,000 animals. The Bronx is also the birthplace of rap and hip hop culture. Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City, at 2,765 acres (1,119 ha).
Since 1914, each of New York City's five boroughs has been coextensive with a county of New York State – unlike most U.S. cities, which lie within a single county or extend partially into another county, constitute a county in themselves, or are completely separate and independent of any county.
Each borough is represented by a borough president. Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island each have a Borough Hall, while the Manhattan Borough President's office is situated in the Manhattan Municipal Building, and the Bronx Borough President's office is in the Bronx County Courthouse. Since the abolition of the Board of Estimate in 1990 (due to a 1989 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court), the borough president now has minimal executive powers, and there is no legislative function within a borough. Executive functions in New York City are the responsibility of the Mayor of New York City, while legislative functions reside with the New York City Council. The borough presidents primarily act as spokesmen, advocates, and ceremonial leaders for their boroughs, have budgets from which they can allocate relatively modest sums of money to community organizations and projects, and appoint the members of the 59 largely advisory community boards in the city's various neighborhoods. The Brooklyn and Queens borough presidents also appoint trustees to the local public library systems in those boroughs.
Because they are counties, each borough also elects a district attorney, as does every other county of the state. While the district attorneys of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island are popularly referred to as such by the media (e.g., "Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr.", or "Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth P. Thompson"), they are technically and legally the district attorneys of New York County, Kings County and Richmond County, respectively. There is no such distinction made for the district attorneys of the other two counties, Queens and The Bronx, since the borough shares the county's name. Because the five district attorneys are, technically speaking, state officials (since the counties are considered to be arms of the state government), rather than officials of the city government, they are not subject to the term limitations that govern other New York City officials such as the mayor, the New York City Public Advocate, members of the city council or the borough presidents.
Some civil court judges also are elected on a borough-wide basis, although they generally are eligible to serve throughout the city.
The term sixth borough is used to describe any of a number of places that have been referred to as a part of New York City because of its geographic location, demographics, special affiliation, or cosmopolitan character. They have included adjacent cities and counties in the New York metropolitan area as well as in other states, U.S. territories, and foreign countries. In 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to the city's waterfront and waterways as a composite sixth borough during presentations of planned rehabilitation projects along the city's shoreline, including Governor's Island in the Upper New York Bay.
New Jersey's Hudson Waterfront lies opposite Manhattan on the Hudson River, and during the Dutch colonial era, was under the jurisdiction of New Amsterdam and known as Bergen. Jersey City and Hoboken in Hudson County are sometimes referred to as the sixth borough, given their proximity and connections by rapid transit PATH trains. Fort Lee, in Bergen County, opposite Upper Manhattan and connected by the George Washington Bridge, has also been called the sixth borough. In the 1920s, soon after the creation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey there were calls to integrate the rail and subway system in New York and Northern New Jersey. After Mayor Bloomberg called for the 7 Subway Extension to continue to Secaucus Junction, a feasibility study was conducted and released in April 2013.
The Westchester County cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon directly border the northern Bronx and share much of that borough's heavily urbanized character. In 1894, the voters of Yonkers and Mount Vernon, along with voters in other parts of southern Westchester, took part in a referendum to determine if they wanted to become part of New York City, along with the voters in Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties (today's Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, respectively). At that time, the city consisted only of Manhattan and a portion of the present-day Bronx, which had been part of Westchester until it became part of New York City in 1874. While the results of the 1894 vote were positive elsewhere, including in several other adjacent sections of Westchester, which were then annexed to the city and which thus became part of the new borough of The Bronx, the returns were so negative in Yonkers and Mount Vernon that those two areas were not included in the consolidated city and remained independent municipalities. A subway connection was planned between Getty Square in Yonkers' city center and the New York City Subway, but the project was abandoned after the failed merger vote. Local residents frequently refer to the area as "the sixth borough," referring to the two cities' location bordering the Bronx, the high number of local residents employed in Manhattan, and the area's similarly urban character. In 1934, a bill was submitted by a New York City alderman that again proposed merging Yonkers into New York City as a sixth borough.
Places outside of the New York metropolitan area that are home to large populations of former New Yorkers have also been referred to as the "sixth borough," including Philadelphia, Miami (and South Florida in general), Los Angeles, and, outside the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and Israel.
The term also applies to other entities as well. For instance, Manhattan College, located in Riverdale, Bronx, refers to its Jaspers student cheering section as "The 6th Borough" at home basketball games played in Draddy Gymnasium. In addition, the University of Connecticut Huskies is often referred to as the Sixth Borough, given its dominance in games played at Madison Square Garden; the school sells a T-shirt making this claim as well.
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