NYC Boroughs

The Five Boroughs – A Short Overview



Before Manhattan became the busy tourist city that we now know it, the area was dominated by natives that were known as the Lenape. The first contact that the indigenous people had with European explorers was in 1524 with Giovanni de Vaerrazzano, a Florentine explorer who visited the area that would become New York City.

The land was not mapped until the arrival of Henry Hudson, who represented the English nation and the Dutch East India Company and embarked on his voyage to the New World in 1609.

Though these early arrivals occurred beginning in the early 16th century, European settlers did not begin building permanent communities until 1624 in New Netherland. In 1625, which is recognized as New York City’s birth year, Fort Amsterdam and a citadel began to be constructed on the island of Manhattan, which was officially and entirely transferred to the Europeans from the Lenape natives after an exchange of goods.

The area of Manhattan served as a major site when American Revolutionary War battles commenced. Taken over by the British military and transformed into an operations center for the entire war until 1783, the city was battered by the British military.

After war’s end and the nation’s Constitution was written, New York was dubbed the new nation’s first capital.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the City of Greater New York was established, the Bronx and Manhattan were recognized as two distinct boroughs, and the legislature signed into creation Bronx County.

The 1900s was a time of great industry in New York, and some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers were built in Manhattan during this time, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the GE Building.

As the 20th century bore forth, the state experienced major race riots and an alarming decline in population and industry. By the 1970s, the Manhattan area was known for its graffitied walls and heinous crimes by gangs.

In the mid-1970s, bankruptcy threatened the city, but all requests for help were ignored. In desperation, Manhattan appealed for and received a federal loan that also included a plan to restructure the city’s debts. However, this came at the cost of having always to be watched by New York State.

In the next decade, Manhattan was able to pick itself up again, and it became, once again, the nation’s center of financial industry.


Before New York State became what we now know it to be, the area began with a municipality called the Village of Breuckelen, which was named for the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands and fell under the control of New Netherland. Power over the land shifted to the British in 1664. After they settled into the area, the British changed the name of Breuckelen to Brockland, then Brocklin, then Brokline, then Brookland, and finally to Brooklyn.

After the Battle of Long Island in 1776, which was one of the American Revolution’s major battles, both New York and Booklyn were signed off as indpendent of England.

Brooklyn’s population doubled in the 1820’s, and again in the 1830’s. With the 1854 addition of Williamsburgh, Brooklyn grew to a city of 96,838 people.

The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, made it easy to reach Manhattan. In 1894, the modern New York City five boroughs were formed after Brooklyn residents opted to join Richmond, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. In 1898, the referendum took effect.

The Bronx

Though it began with small farms and a much more rural area, the Bronx exploded with population and technological advancements to become a suburban area with a large railroad hub during the late 1900s. The faster transportation available, which included the elevated railways and subway system, was also a factor for the increase in population.

During the 20th century, The Bronx experienced in the early parts and saw its population explode to 1.3 million from 200,000 residents between 1900 and 1930. During the mid-1950s, however, the area saw a decline of the number of middle-class residents, replaced with a lower-class population. This continued to gradually take place into 1979, but by 1980, the Bronx stabilized economically and demographically.

The Bronx played an extremely important role in the community. For example, South Bronx was known for its piano manufacturing in the early 1900s, and the World’s Fair of 1918 was hosted by The Bronx.

After the first world war, the area exploded, thanks to so the many immigrants in the thousands who flooded The Bronx, including the Polish, German, French, Italian, and the Irish.

Gradually througout the 20th century, groups of immigrants began to move farther north, which left the southeastern and northwestern parts of the county with mostly Hispanic, African American, and some Caucsasian communities.

The Bronx became identified with a high rate of poverty and unemployment in the 1970’s. In the same decade, it was plagued by a wave of arson. The arsons slowed by the turn of the decade, but their effects were still felt in the 1990’s.

Since 2002, The Bronx has benefited from an investment of billions of dollars into new building construction and housing.


The borough of Queens was established in 1898, made up of Newtown, Long Island City, Jamaica, Flushing, and the Rockaway Peninsula part of the Town of Hempstead.

Between 1905 and 1908, Queens’s Long Island Rail Road, which today provides service for over 80 million customers each year, ran on electricity. Continuing its reputation for providing fast transportation, the ability to travel between Manhattan and Queens was enabled after the completion of the Queensboro Bridge in 1909, and in 1910 when the construction of railway tunnels under the East River was built.

Along with the Steinway Tunnel, which opened in 1915, and the increasingly prevalent use of automobiles, Queens’s population in the 1920s went up by a factor of two. Advances in transportation continued with the New York Municipal Airport-LaGuardia Field, better known as LaGuardia Airport, opened in northern Queens in 1939. Idlewild Airport, now known as JFK International Airport, opened in southern Queens in 1948.

Staten Island

1524 was the recorded first year of European contact with this famous island. Giovannie de Verrazzano, who repesented the Italian nation, voyaged through the Narrows and anchored for one night.

When Henry Hudson, an English explorer, ventured by sail into Upper New York Bay in 1609, he dubbed the island Staaten Eylandt, which was a tip of the hat to the Dutch parliament, Staten-Generaal.

The Dutch was the first to permanently settle in the area in 1661 with several small families known as the Oude Dorp. This was such an important occurrence that remains of the Oude Dorp settlements are still preserved to this day in the area’s modern Old Town.

The control of New Netherlands was transferred to the English in 1667, which resulted in the Dutch Staaten Eylandt given the English name “Staten Island.” It was incorporated into the rest of the English colonies in the state.

In 1674, Captain Christoper Billop arrived in America, Staten Island more specifically. By the end of the next year, Billop established his home on Staten Island after being given a 932 acre land patent. Nine years later, New York’s colonies became 10 distinct counties, with Staten Island becoming part of Richmond County.

During the late 17th century, the island was divided by the English settlers into four different divisions. By the beginning of the 18th century, Staten Island consisted of many farms and a couple of estates.

In 1898, Staten Island’s many villages and towns were restructured as part of a larger consolidation program, and Richmond became its own borough.

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a double-decked suspension bridge completed in 1964, opened many areas of Staten Island to residential and commercial development. Along with three other bridges, it allowed those from one part of the city to travel to the other, which opened up the state to entirely new possibilities.

Automobile Related Stats

According to New York City’s Police Department, in August of 2012 there was a total of 17,108 motor vehicle accidents in the city. Of these accidents, 33,528 motorists, including the owner of a parked vehicle, were involved. 1,761 passengers, 503, cyclists and 867 pedestrians were involved. 1,758 passengers were injured and three were killed. 502 cyclists were injured and 1 was killed and 853 pedestrians were injured and 14 were killed.

Reports indicate that Brooklyn has 38,529 property crimes annually. That’s 15.38 annual crimes per 1,000 residents. Of these crimes, 2,972 were motor vehicle thefts. Your chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Staten Island are 1 in 65.

Reports state that The Bronx has 376,161 property crimes annually. That’s 19.41 annual crimes per 1,000 residents. Of these crimes, 20,433 were motor vehicle thefts. Your chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Staten Island are 1 in 51.

The borough’s law enforcement officals state that Queens has 30,879 property crimes annually. That’s 13.84 annual crimes per 1,000 residents. Of these crimes, 2,305 were motor vehicle thefts. Your chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Staten Island are 1 in 72.

Reports indicate that Staten Island has 3,955 property crimes annually. That’s 8.44 annual crimes per 1,000 residents. Of these crimes, 132 were motor vehicle thefts. Your chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Staten Island are 1 in 118.

Don’t risk driving in any of New York’s boroughs without car insurance — you may be putting yourself at risk. Learn about different auto insurance policies today so you can get the best possible car insurance in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. Get the best possible auto insurance to protect yourself by beginning our form at the top of this page with your zip code.