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New York City: Five Boroughs

Located just west of Long Island is a city with 5 boroughs, 59 community districts and hundreds of neighborhoods.

The Five Boroughs of New York: New York City is one of the biggest cities in the world, perhaps, because it is actually made up of five smaller sections called boroughs. At one time, each borough had a completely separate government because it was considered a municipal corporation. A municipal is a local governing body with its own set of governing officials. In 1898, the separate governments were united as one. The five boroughs kept their separate identities but became a part of New York City. The five boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.


Each borough has a borough president, and the borough government operates out of a borough hall like a city hall that most people associate with city officials. Manhattan is the only exception; the officials function out of the Manhattan Municipal Building. As of 1990, the borough president has very little power. At one time, each president had a voice in budget decisions within the city of New York. It was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court that the practice was unconstitutional since each borough president got one vote. The most densely populated boroughs got the same vote as the borough with the least amount of people. It violated the 14th amendment. The mayor of New York City makes all budget decisions for all the boroughs.

Manhattan: When people think New York, they often think of Manhattan. The island of Manhattan is the smallest of the five boroughs but has more people than the largest borough of New York. Manhattan is 23 square miles. That is not much space for the 1.6 million people who live there and does not take into account tourists or those that work in Manhattan but choose to live in one of the outer boroughs.

Manhattan is known for many landmarks like the Empire State Building and Central Park. The neighborhoods are varied. From Harlem with its boutiques and jazz clubs, Lower Manhattan’s cultural cuisine to the Upper East Side’s museums and Midtown’s Times Square, there is a cultural, culinary and visual experience for every visitor.

The Bronx: The Bronx is the second smallest of the New York boroughs at 42 square miles but has less people than Manhattan does. The 2010 census reported over 1.3 million people in The Bronx. The Bronx has more open spaces than Manhattan and could account for the amount of people.

There are many tree-lined streets and local parks for families that settle in this area. The South Bronx is where Yankee stadium can be found. The Bronx also boasts the Bronx Zoo with many outdoor cafes and exhibits. It is where visitors and neighbors can enjoy the New York Botanical Gardens as well.

Brooklyn: Brooklyn is the most inhabited of the five boroughs with over 2.5 million people in 71 square miles. The many ethnic groups in Brooklyn can be found in concentrated sections around the borough. There is a large African American community in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area, Russians in the Brighton Beach area and a sizable Hispanic population in Bushwick. There is a large concentration of various other ethnic populations like the Irish, Arab Americans, Greek, Orthodox Jews and West Indians just to name a few.

The Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Brooklyn Academy of Music are examples of the musical traditions Brooklyn is famous for having within its borough. Another example of culture is the Brooklyn Museum which houses the second largest collection of art in the U. S.

Queens: If Queens were a city independent of New York, it would be considered the fourth most thickly-settled city in the U. S. behind cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. Queens has a population of over 2.2 million people in 109 square miles. While it may be thought that Brooklyn is the most culturally-diverse, it is actually Queens where its residents speak over 138 languages. The area of Queens includes the major airports within its borders.

Queens has outdoor amusements in Corona, an outdoor beer garden in Astoria and fine dining with great views in Long Island City. It has a welcoming family community in many of the areas of Queens. The borough also has many cultural attractions for the visitor that wants to explore or the full-time resident who wants to fully experience their borough.

Staten Island: Staten Island is the least inhabited and populated of the boroughs with just over 470,000 residents. The island is 58 square miles and is separated from the other boroughs by New York Bay. The residents of Staten Island often refer to themselves as “The Forgotten Borough” since they feel ignored in favor of the other boroughs by the government of New York.

Staten Island is accessed from New Jersey by three separate bridges, and from Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Most tourists want to visit Staten Island using the free Staten Island Ferry which takes the visitor on a scenic view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Staten Island is becoming a haven for artists and musicians who want to be close to Manhattan but have access to affordable housing. Manhattan is less than a half an hour from Staten Island by ferry.

This page is about NYC Bridges and Tunnels. You can find a list of bridges and tunnels visiting our Bridges and Tunnels section. There are about nine entry and exit points to get in and out on Long Island.


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