Some Facts On Greater New York 1898

A. The Mayor

Mayor Van Wyck will hold office for four years, and his salary will be $15,000. He will have, during the first six months of his term, power to remove all heads of departments, except members of the Board of Education, and to appoint men of his own choice in their places. He will have between forty and fifty salaried offices to fill, the aggregate salaries of which will amount to about half a million dollars.

B. The Municipal Assembly

The Municipal Assembly is composed of two houses-the Council and the Board of Aldermen. The Council contains twenty-nine members, term four years, one of whom (its President) Is chosen on a general ticket by the whole city, salary $5,000; twenty-eight by districts, salary $1,500. The Board of Aldermen contains sixty members, elected for two years, salary $1,000. The Aldermen,
have elected P. J. Scully City Clerk, term six years, salary $6,000 a year. The President of the Council acts as Mayor during absence of the latter, or in case of a vacancy; but he cannot appoint or remove any one unless the Mayor shall be absent ten days, nor sign any ordinance or resolution until he has been absent nine days. Any ex-Mayor of the new city may sit in the Council, so long as he resides in the city, but he cannot vote.

C. The Boroughs

The new city will be divided into five boroughs, designated as Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond. The Borough of Manhattan comprises that portion of the present city of New York known as Manhattan Island, Governor's Island, Bed'ow's Island, Ellis Island, the Oyster Islands, together with Blackwell's Island, Randall's Island, and Ward's Island in the East and Harlem Rivers. The Borough of Bronx comprises all that portion of the city of New York lying northerly and easterly of the Borough of Manhattan, between the Hudson and East Rivers and Long Island Sound, and including the several islands belonging to the municipal corporation of New York not included in the Borough of Manhattan. The Borough of Brooklyn comprises that portion now known as the city of Brooklyn. The Borough of Queens comprises that portion of Queens County included In the city of New York that is, Flushing, part of Hempstead, Jamaica, Jamaica Bay, Long Island City, and Newtown. The Borough of Richmond comprises the territory known as Richmond County, or Staten Island. Each borough has a President, chosen for four years, at the last election, as follows:


Manhattan, Augugstus W. Peters, Tam.................. $5,000
Bronx, Louis F. Haffen, Tam................................. 5,000
Brooklyn, Edward M. Grout, Dem.......................... . 5,000
Queens, Frederick Bowley, Dem.......................... .. 3,000
Richmond, George Cromwell, Rep........................... 3,000

The chief function of the Borough Presidents is to preside over the meetings of the various local boards of the borough. There will be a local Board of Public Improvements in each of the twenty-two Senate districts or parts thereof comprised in the city. Each local board will consist of the President of the borough wherein the district is situated, by virtue of his office, and of each member of the Municipal Assembly who is a resident of such local-improvement district, by virtue of his office, and during his term of office. The jurisdiction of each local board is confined to the district for which it is constituted, and to those subjects or matters the costs and expenses whereof are in whole or in part a charge upon the people or property of the district or a part thereof, except where jurisdiction over such matters is given to some other branch of the local administration. Subject to this exception, and any other restrictions provided by the charter, a local board is to have power in all cases where the cost of an improvement Is to be met in whole or in part by assessments upon the property benefited, to recommend that proceedings be initiated to open, close, extend, widen, grade, pave, regrade, repave, and repair the streets, avenues, and public places, and to construct lateral sewers within the district; to flag or reflag, curb or recurb the sidewalk, and to relay cross-walks on such streets and avenues; to set or reset street lamps, and to provide signs designating the names of the streets. A local board is, further, to have power to hear complaints of nuisances in streets or avenues, or against disorderly houses, drinking-salootis, gambling-houses, or other matters or things concerning the peace, comfort, order, and good government respecting any neighborhood within the district, or concerning the condition of the poor within the district, and to pass such resolutions concerning the same as may not be inconsistent with the powers of the Municipal Assembly or of the administrative departments of the city. Every resolution of the local boards must be submitted to the Mayor for his approval.

D. Board of Public Improvements

A novel and important feature of the new charter is the Board of Public Improvements, which is composed of a President, appointed by the Mayor, salary $8,000; the Commissioner of Water Supply, the Commissioner of Highways, the Commissioner of Street Cleaning, the Commissioner of Sewers, the Commissioner of Public Buildings, Lighting and Supplies, the Commissioner of Bridges, the
Mayor, the Corporation Counsel, and the five Borough Presidents. This body will have power to authorize and execute all public improvements, subject to the concurrent approval of the Municipal Assembly and the local boards. It will have power also to veto any improvement schemes approved by either the local boards or the Municipal Assembly. It must meet at least once a week, in such place as the Municipal Assembly shall provide.

E. Chamber of Commerce

The oldest commercial institution in this city Is the New York Chamber of Commerce, which resulted from a meeting of twenty merchants in Faunce's tavern on April 5, 1768. A charter was obtained from King George through Gov. Colden, dated March 13, 1770, the Chamber, therefore, really antedating the establishment of the republic.The first President was John Cruger, a prominent shipowner, a trusted representative of the Crown, and Mayor of the city for ten years. The Chamber's meetings were suspended during the Revolutionary war, but it was reincorporated by a special act of the New York Legislature April 13, 1784, and was reorganized April 20, 1784, by the forty corporators mentioned therein, with John Alsop as its President. To the Chamber of Commerce belongs the credit of first suggesting the construction of the Erie Canal, and in all matters pertaining to the commercial prosperity and welfare of this city and country it is always found in the lead. It has collected and distributed more than $2,000,000 for charity, and, as was said at one of its recent annual meetings by its then President, Charles Stewart Smith, it matters not what political party holds the reins of government, the Chamber is bound by tradition and precedent, in all matters of state and national legislative relations to commerce and industry, to promote good laws, to amend imperfect laws, and to defeat bad ones. From twenty members at the time of its organization, the Chamber's membership roll has grown to 1,250 at the present time. Alexander E. Orr is the present President of the Chamber, and George Wilson is serving his fortieth year as Secretary. The Chamber's well-known portrait gallery contains portraits of all the early Presidents of the Chamber except three, besides the portraits of 153 of former well-known members, the leading merchants of this city in their day.

F. Movement of Population

From before the time when the City Fathers turned the cheaper brown-stone side of the city's hall towards the field and pastures above Chambers Street, thinking that no bovine dweller therein would ever feel the slight which has become a byword for short-sightedness, when a Lutheran church, though in deep straits, rejected a gift of six acres in the vicinity of Canal Street and Broadway, because the land was not worth fencing, and capitalists condemned as visionary a plan to preserve the Collect Pond and surround it with a park, the march of population, like that of business, has been northward, veering first east and then west; not of the diurnal throng which pours over the rivers from Brooklyn and Hoboken and Hackensack to vend its wares or its wits in Manhattan markets, content that the market is there and satisfied to live elsewhere, but of those to whom belonged the honor of forming part of that last member of the ancient city corporation, the "commonalty" of the city of New York.

The movement may be traced curiously in the history of the ward lines, the location of which was the result of the shifting and growth of the city's population. The Montgomery charter in 1730 divided Manhattan Island into seven wards. Six of these lay below what is now Canal Street, and the other, the Out Ward, took in the rest of the island. The boundaries of the first five wards, the city of colony times, were laid down in 1791, and remain the same to this day. The growing ward was then the Sixth, which included the region between Broadway, Park Row, and the Bowery, as far north as Houston Street. In ten years the principle of equal representation in Aldermen required the creation of two new wards. The city was filling up between Canal and Houston 'Streets, the Bowery, and the North River, and the Eighth Ward was formed. For Greenwich village and the growing country northward the Ninth Ward was laid out. This was in 1801.

From the First, or Dock Ward, the population had spread on the east side as far as the "Swamp," then along the North River as far as the Lispenard Meadows. Then the current set easterly toward Corlears Hook after the filling of the Collect Pond, and westerly again when the old canal which ran across the city was filled up. By 1808 the tide of settlement along the Bast River bank had been such that the territory between Catharine and Division and Grand Streets and the river was erected into a new ward, the Seventh, which stands to this day. To such small limits had the original Out Ward been reduced. By 1825 the march northward had been such that the "Out Ward," the Twelfth it was then, began at Fourteenth Street. The Tenth Ward of that time, which lay between the Bowery and the East River and Division, Grand, and Rivington Streets, was about as thickly settled as the Eighth, which lay on the opposite side of the island, and more thickly than the Ninth, which extended between Houston and Fourteenth Streets, from the North River to the Bowery and Fourth Avenue, and the Eleventh, which lay between the same streets and extended from the Bowery to the East River. By 1837 the Thirteenth Ward had been cut from the Tenth, and the Fourteenth from the Eighth in 1827, the Fifteenth from the Ninth in 1832, and the Seventeenth from the Eleventh in 1837. After that year no changes in ward lines were made below Fourteenth Street. The partitioning of the Out Ward still went on, however. The Sixteenth Ward, on the west side, was formed from the Twelfth in 1835, and the Eighteenth, on the east, ten years later.

These two, which now include the part of the island between Fourteenth and Twenty-sixth Streets, at first extended to Fortieth Street from Fourteenth, on the east and west sides. The region between Fortieth and Eighty-sixth Streets was next made the Nineteenth Ward; in 1850 the Twentieth Ward was made by cutting the Sixteenth at Twenty-sixth Street, and in 1853 the Eighteenth was cut at Twenty-sixth Street to form the Twenty-first, and the Nineteenth was split from north to south to form the Twenty- second on the west side. After the southerly line of the "Out Ward" had thus been pushed north to Eighty-sixth Street, the political functions of the ward lines by degrees grew obsolete, and no more divisions were made.

In 1860 the centre of gravity of the population of Manhattan Island was on Eighteenth Street, half way between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Between 1860 and 1870 it moved five blocks north to the corner of Twenty-third Street and Fourth Avenue. By I880 it was seven blocks further up town, on Thirtieth Street, east of Madison Avenue. During the next ten years it jumped a mile to the
north, to Madison Avenue half way between Fiftieth and and Fifty-seventh Streets. In 1860 the island above Eighty-sixth Street contained five inhabitants to the acre, and between Fortieth and Eighty-sixth Streets about thirty inhabitants to the acre. The west half of this section was twice as thickly settled as the east. Between Fourteenth and Fortieth Streets the west side was the more populous. The Twentieth Ward (between Twenty-sixth and Fortieth Streets on the west) had 152 inhabitants to the acre, and the Twenty-first, lying on the east side, between the same streets, had 119. The Mulberry Bend and Five Points Ward (the Sixth) was the most densely populated, with 310 people to the acre, although the Eleventh and Thirteenth (between Grand and Fourteenth Streets, the Bowery, and the East River) had each over 300. Next came the Tenth, with 272, the Fourth, with 264, and the Seventeenth, with 220. The depopulation of the dry-goods district was well under way, for the Second and Third Wards contained about thirty-five inhabitants to the acre, although the First, or all the island below Liberty Street and Maiden Lane, had 117.

The fluctuation of population in the First Ward is curious. By 1870 It fell to 93, went back to II6 in 1880, and in 1890 fell to 72. On the other hand the density of the Twelfth Ward went to 8 dwellers per acre in 1870, to 14 In 1880, and 44 in 1890. In the region between Fortieth and Eighty-sixth Streets the east side has grown faster than the west. The density of the Twenty-second Ward was 46 In 1870. 73 in 1880, and 100 in 1890: while its neighbor on the east, the Nineteenth, went to 53 in 1870, to 106 in 1880,and 152 in 1890. Between Fourteenth and Fortieth Streets, however, the west side has filled up more rapidly. The Hell's Kitchen Ward, the Twentieth, went to 369 per acre In 1870, to 193 in 1880, and fell to 189 in 1890. The Eighteenth Ward, on the east side, between Fourteenth and Twenty-sixth, went by decades to 132, to 148, to 140.

Prosperity among the Irish and migration up town caused a falling off in the Sixth Ward to 246 In 1870 and 233 in 1880, but the coming of the Italians brought it back to 268 in 1890.

In 1870 the population had gathered most densely in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Wards, with an average of 350 to the acre, in that part of the city bounded by the East River, Fourteenth Street, Avenue B, Rivington Street, the Bowery, and Division and Grand Streets. About this was a region of sub-density, composed of the Fourth. Sixth, Seventh, Fourteenth, and Seventeenth Wards, where the population varied from 226 to 288 per acre.

By 1880 the Polack arrived and pushed the Tenth Ward to a bad eminence of over 400 to the acre, which increased to 532 in 1890. In 1880 the overflow from the Tenth had spread east into the Thirteenth, and on the north in the Eleventh and Seventeenth to Fourteenth Street, the first having 352 and the second 350 to the acre. By 1890 the overflow to the Thirteenth had raised its density to 430, while the Eleventh, Fourteenth, and Seventeenth Wards lost in density. Between 1870 and 1890 the region of sub-density in the Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Wards about held its own.

According to the census of 1890 the most thinly settled part of the island was the Second Ward, lying between Broadway, Maiden Lane, the East River, and Peck Slip. It had eleven inhabitants to the acre. Across the Harlem the immense Twenty-third Ward had 12 to the acre, although the Twenty-fourth had only two.


Website: The History
Article Name: Some Facts On Greater New York 1898
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 Greater New York: Its Government, Financial Institutions, Transportation Facilities and Chronology; The Evening Post Publishing Co. New York 1898
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