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A Bit of History and Facts on New York’s Five Boroughs

August 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phin Upham

New York City is often referred to as “the Five Boroughs”, which a reference to the areas that make up the city properly. Referring to the city in this way helps move the emphasis away from Manhattan, which is particularly important for outsiders. It also helps designate a portion of New York that is different from suburban New York, or the greater Metropolitan area.

The city was consolidated in 1898, although parts of the city belonged to Westchester County at the time. From 1914, the five boroughs were considered coextensive when the Bronx was ceded by Westchester and became Bronx County. Even though the boroughs are somewhat separated, they are viewed as one entity.

Although they function as one city, each borough has a borough President and a Borough Hall. The Manhattan borough, for instance, features a Borough Hall in the Manhattan Municipal Building. These positions were once prestigious, and held some legislative sway in the county, but today’s positions hold minimal power. Most executive functions in the state default to the mayor of New York. Each borough also has a District Attorney elected by the citizens living in that borough.

The term is often politicized, as is the usage of the “sixth borough”. The sixth borough is often used to refer to the surrounding areas of New York City, but it’s also been used to refer to infrastructure or areas of importance. For instance, PATH train routes might be considered part of New York’s sixth borough.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.