City of Greater New York

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This article is about the consolidation of New York City in 1897–98. For the greater metropolitan area that includes New York City today, see New York metropolitan area.

The City of Greater New York was the unofficial term 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, most of 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] In the years leading up to consolidation, 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.[4] In 1899, its three eastern towns separated to form the new Nassau County.[5]

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 (see History of the Bronx#Before 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]

The consolidation movement was the work of the merchant elite and progressives, most prominently Andrew Haswell Green. Some opponents derided the effort as "Andy Green's hobby."[citation needed] 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.[6] 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

The plan required a referendum in all affected areas. Opposition, concentrated in Brooklyn and other outlying districts, focused on loss of local control and fears of ethnic and racial minorities. 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. Considerations of finance and water supply prevailed, and the people of Brooklyn voted by a narrow margin to consolidate (64,744 votes for consolidation, 64,467 votes against).[7]

New York's commuter zone had only reached partway into Kings County, the Annexed District, and western Queens County, so for decades the consolidated municipal government was in charge of mile upon mile of farmland and dusty country roads.[citation needed]

Home rule[edit]

Since the enlarged city at the time contained the majority of the state of New York's entire population (currently approximately 40%) 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 US Supreme Court as violating the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The New York City Board of Estimate, created in consolidation Charter with equal votes for five each borough was struck down on similar grounds in 1989.

Staten Island secession[edit]

In 1993, Staten Island held a non-binding plebiscite on the issue of seceding from New York City to become an independent city, which was approved by the electorate.[8]

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 plurality in his 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[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Dr. James Sullivan (editor). The History of New York State. Book II, Chapter IV Part VIII. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Of Interest To Politicians.". The New York Times. September 13, 1894 (before vote). p. 9. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "The question of the Greater New-York, which is also to be submitted to the people at this coming election, involves the proposition to unite in one city the following cities, counties, and towns: New-York City, Long Island City, in Queens County; the County of Kings, (Brooklyn;) the County of Richmond, (S.I.;) the towns of Flushing, Newtown, Jamaica, in Queens County; the town of Westchester, in Westchester County, and all that portion of the towns of East Chester and Pelham which lies south of a straight line drawn from a point where the northerly line of the City of New-York meets the centre line of the Bronx River, to the middle of the channel between Hunter's and Glen Islands, in Long Island Sound, and that part of the town of Hempstead, in Queens County, which is westerly of a straight line drawn from the south-easterly point of the town of Flushing in a straight line to the Atlantic Ocean." 
  2. ^ "Greater New-York In Doubt; The City Vote Is For It And Brooklyn Is Uncertain". The New York Times. November 8, 1894 (before results of Queens vote known). Retrieved 2013-04-19. "The increase in area and population that New-York will acquire if consolidation becomes a fact will become evident by a glance at the following table... Flushing... *Part of the town of Hempstead... Jamaica... Long Island City ... Newtown... The townships in Queens County that are to be included in the Greater New-York have not been heard from yet..." 
  3. ^ a b c Jackson, Kenneth T. (1995). Encyclopedia of the City of New York. New Haven & New York: Yale University Press. 
  4. ^ "New-York's Place In Danger; Consolidation Defeated, She Must Yield To Chicago.". The New York Times. November 4, 1894 (before election). Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  5. ^ 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 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and the rest of Hempstead were excluded from the vote." 
  6. ^ History of Fire Service FDNY
  7. ^ "Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (The History of New York City)" by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace
  8. ^ Article about Staten Island Secession at the City Journal web site