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City of Greater New York

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Map of New York City's current size and boroughs with labels
Map of New York City's current size and boroughs with labels

The City of Greater New York was the term used by many politicians and scholars for the expanded City of New York created on January 1, 1898, by consolidating the existing City of New York with the East Bronx, Brooklyn, western Queens County, and Staten Island.[1][2] The section of the Bronx west of the Bronx River had been annexed to the City and County of New York in 1874 and was known as the Annexed District.[3][4]

In the years leading up to consolidation, the City of Brooklyn had expanded by annexing all of the other towns and cities in Kings County. Only the western part of Queens County was part of the consolidation plan.[5] In 1899, its three eastern towns separated to form the new Nassau County.[6]

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While remaining a county in relation to the state, each county became a borough within the city, with the Bronx reunited to form a fifth borough that shared New York County with Manhattan. A separate Bronx County was established in 1914, making the present New York County co-extensive with the Borough of Manhattan.

The term City of Greater New York was never a legal or official designation as both the original charter of 1898 and the newer one of 1938 use the name of City of New York.[3] It is still used in modern-day books relating or including the time period when the consolidation took place.[7]

Since the late 1820s there had been some discussion of a unified city, with the New York State legislature voting in 1857 that the region surrounding New York City should become one more efficient body.[8] They attempted to do so by government vote, in order to improve harbor facilities and link the systems of trade, but distrust of large projects killed the plans.[9] The consolidation movement was the work of politicians both local, city, and state, most prominently the president of the "Greater New-York Commission"[10] and "The Father of Greater New York"[11] Andrew Haswell Green. He was a member of the Board of Commissioners of Central Park, which provided him a platform to push his views.[12]

"Up With the Flag! (of Brooklyn)", an 1895 anti-consolidation song.
"Up With the Flag! (of Brooklyn)", an 1895 anti-consolidation song.

The next challenge to the independence of the boroughs was a self-promoted and government-appointed commission. The commission led the “Vote for Greater New York" movement and was the force behind it coming to fruition.[10] Some opponents derided the effort as "Andy Green's hobby," but eventually they were proven wrong.[13] The center of the plan was the consolidation of the twin cities of New York and Brooklyn, whose fire departments had been merged into a Metropolitan Fire District in 1865.[14] The addition of Long Island City and various rural areas anticipated future development of those areas. With Republicans historically more powerful in Brooklyn and Democrats elsewhere, partisan politics played a role, each major political party hoping to dominate the consolidated city.

"Selfish Objections to a Good Match", Punch, 1893
"Selfish Objections to a Good Match", Punch, 1893

The plan required a referendum in all affected areas, though the organizers of the referendum clearly had a bias towards the consolidation. They even released a full page advertisement in the New York Times before the vote took place, urging them to vote "For Consolidation".[10]

Opposition, concentrated in Brooklyn and other outlying districts, focused on loss of local control and fears of ethnic and racial minorities. Independence-minded Brooklynites did not want their regional identity to be overtaken by New York.[15] Some newspapers such as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle argued that consolidation would destroy the mostly homogenous, Protestant character of the city.[3] Opposing newspapers were accused of seeking to retain the revenues of official advertising, while opposing politicians were accused of graft. Concerns over how Brooklyn's water supply would be maintained and how future financial backing would be possible were legitimate.[16] Considerations of finance and water supply prevailed, and the people of Brooklyn voted by a narrow margin to consolidate.[17][18][19]

Home rule

Since the enlarged city contained the majority of the state of New York's population, and the enlargement increased the city's already enormous power within the state, the state legislature established certain oversight powers within the city. For example, some issues of taxation and changes in governmental procedures require state approval or granting of specific home rule powers.

Conversely, the State Constitution was amended to provide that no city could elect the majority of the State Assembly, a provision later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as violating the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The New York City Board of Estimate, created in the consolidation charter with equal votes for each borough, was struck down on similar grounds in 1989.

Staten Island secession

In 1993, Staten Island held a non-binding referendum on the issue of seceding from New York City to become an independent city, which was approved by the electorate.[20] The Staten Island secession movement was defused, or at least deferred, by the election on the same ballot of Rudy Giuliani as New York City mayor, who had campaigned on the promise that Staten Island's grievances would be addressed. Giuliani's narrow victory over David Dinkins was aided by overwhelming support from Staten Island. Two of the borough's biggest demands were closing the Fresh Kills Landfill and making the Staten Island Ferry free, both of which have since been fulfilled.

See also


  1. ^ "Of Interest To Politicians". The New York Times. September 13, 1894. p. 9. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  2. ^ "Greater New-York In Doubt; The City Vote Is For It And Brooklyn Is Uncertain". The New York Times. November 8, 1894. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Jackson, Kenneth T. (1995). Encyclopedia of the City of New York. New Haven & New York: Yale University Press.
  4. ^ "The East City Line Fixed". The New York Times. February 12, 1899. p. 15. Retrieved December 28, 2007.
  5. ^ "New-York's Place In Danger; Consolidation Defeated, She Must Yield To Chicago". The New York Times. November 4, 1894. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  6. ^ Geoffrey Mohan (Staff Writer) (2007). "Nassau's Difficult Birth; Eastern factions of Queens win the fight to separate after six decades of wrangling". Newsday. Archived from the original on October 16, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2013. North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and the rest of Hempstead were excluded from the vote.
  7. ^ Kessner, Thomas (2004). Capital City: New York City and the Men Behind America's Rise to Dominance 1860-1900. New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 60, ibid. ISBN 978-0743257534.
  8. ^ Kessner, Capital City, p.319
  9. ^ Kessner, Capital City p.60
  10. ^ a b c "Vote For Greater New-York; Commissioners Offer Arguments For A Mighty City". October 16, 1894. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  11. ^ Haberman, Clyde (May 14, 2004). "NYC; A.H. Green? You could sit on It". New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  12. ^ Kessner, Capital City, pp.62-67
  13. ^ Kessner, Capital City, p.63
  14. ^ "History of Fire Service". Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  15. ^ Samantha Sokol, "1898 Consolidation of NYC,",
  16. ^ “Brooklyn’s Thirst, Long Island’s Water: Consolidation, Local Control, and the Aquifer | Long Island History Journal”, Stony Brook University, Piublished 2011 Accessed March 25, 2016,;
  17. ^ Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (The History of New York City)
  18. ^ "Vote for Greater New York". The New York Times. October 16, 1894. Retrieved December 28, 2007.
  19. ^ "Official Announcement of the Results of the Election" (PDF). The New York Times. December 15, 1894. Retrieved December 28, 2007. The area included a radius of twenty miles, with the city hall in New York as a center to circumscribe it
  20. ^ Article about Staten Island Secession Archived September 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. at the City Journal web site

Further reading

This page was last edited on 30 November 2018, at 04:53
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