Borough (New York City) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
5 Boroughs Labels New York City Map
     1. Manhattan      2. Brooklyn      3. Queens      4. The Bronx      5. Staten Island

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 is coextensive with 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 coextensive 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 form of governmental administration for each of the five fundamental constituent parts of the newly consolidated city in 1898. Under the 1898 City Charter adopted by the New York State Legislature, a "borough" is a municipal corporation that is created when a county is merged with populated areas within it. This system, in which New York City's borough governments are inferior to the powers of the city-wide government, differs significantly from borough forms of government used in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in which a borough is an independent level of government, as well as other borough forms used in other states and Greater London.

Background

New York City's five boroughs
Jurisdiction Population Land area Density
Borough County Estimate
(2015)
square
miles
square
km
persons /
sq. mi
persons /
sq. km
Manhattan
New York
1,644,518 22.83 59.1 72,033 27,826
The Bronx
Bronx
1,455,444 42 110 34,653 13,231
Brooklyn
Kings
2,636,735 71 180 37,137 14,649
Queens
Queens
2,339,150 109 280 21,460 8,354
Staten Island
Richmond
474,558 58.5 152 8,112 3,132
City of New York
8,550,405 303.33 781.1 28,188 10,947
State of New York
19,795,791 47,214 122,284 416.4 159
Sources: see individual borough articles
Above Gotham
The borough of Manhattan is the economic, cultural, and administrative center of New York City.

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. Ultimately in 1914, the present-day separate Bronx County became the last county to be created in the State of New York.

The borough of Queens consists of what formerly was only the western part of a then-larger Queens County. In 1899, the three eastern towns of Queens County that had not joined the city the year before—the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay—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, while leaving the name of the county unchanged as Richmond.

Description of the boroughs

Chinatown manhattan 2009
Chinatown in Manhattan, the most densely populated borough of New York City, with a higher density than any individual American city.
Greenpoint Houses
Landmark 19th-century brownstones in the Greenpoint Historic District of Brooklyn, New York City's most populous borough.
Unisphere in summer
The Unisphere in Queens, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.
Staten Island Borough Hall sign
Borough Hall in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island, the most suburban borough of New York City.
Melrosebx1
The Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City and the only borough situated on the United States mainland.
Further information: Neighborhoods in New York City and List of parks in New York City

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 U.S. 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 the borough most closely associated with New York City by non-residents; residents of the New York City metropolitan area, including natives of New York City's boroughs outside Manhattan, will often describe a trip to Manhattan as "going to the City". 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. Marble Hill was originally part of Manhattan Island, but is now contiguous with the Bronx after having been severed from Manhattan Island by the construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal south of the neighborhood, and having been connected to the mainland by the subsequent filling in of the Harlem River's original path to the neighborhood's south. 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 Staten Island Ferry, a free 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 that is part of the United States mainland. 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 covers 265 acres (107 ha) and houses over 6,000 animals. Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City, at 2,765 acres (1,119 ha).

Sixth borough

The term sixth borough is used to describe any of a number of places that have been metaphorically called a part of New York City because of their geographic location, demographics (they include large numbers of former New Yorkers), 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. The Hudson Waterfront in the U.S. state of New Jersey 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, New Jersey, are sometimes referred to as the sixth borough, given their proximity and connections by rapid transit PATH trains. Fort Lee, New Jersey, in Bergen County, opposite Upper Manhattan and connected by the George Washington Bridge, has also been called the sixth borough. Miami and nearby areas in Florida, Philadelphia and China are locales entirely outside the city's metropolitan area which have been called New York City's sixth borough.


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