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New York City, one of the largest cities in the world, is composed of five boroughs. Each borough now has the same boundaries as the county it is in. The county governments were dissolved when the city consolidated in 1898, along with all city, town, and village governments within each county, all being governed by the expanded city.
The term borough was adopted to describe a unique form of governmental administration for each of the five fundamental constituent parts of the newly consolidated city. Technically, under New York State Law, a "borough" is a municipal corporation that is created when a county is merged with populated areas within it. This differs significantly from typical borough forms of government used in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alaska, other states, Greater London, and elsewhere.
New York's five boroughs overview
|Borough of||County of||1 July 2011|
|Source: United States Census Bureau|
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 metropolitan area. The term is often 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 the boroughs excluding Manhattan, even though the geographic center of the city is along the Brooklyn and Queens border.
Unlike most U.S. cities, which lie within a single county, extend partially into another county, constitute a county in themselves, or are completely separate and independent of any county, since 1914 each of New York City's five boroughs is coextensive with a county of New York state.
All of these boroughs were created in 1898 during consolidation, when the city's current boundaries were established. The borough of Bronx was originally the parts of New York County that had previously been ceded by Westchester County, until Bronx County was created in 1914.
The borough of Queens originally consisted of just the western part of a larger Queens County, until Nassau County was created by the secession from Queens County of the three eastern towns in 1899. The borough of Staten Island was officially the borough of Richmond, however, until the name was changed in 1975 to reflect its common appellation.
Each borough is represented by a borough president and, with the exception of Manhattan, has a borough hall (the same functions, and others, reside in the Manhattan Municipal Building). Since the abolition of the board of estimate in 1990 (due to a 1989 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court ), the borough president now has minimal executive powers, and there is no legislative function within a borough.
Most executive power is exercised by the mayor of New York City and legislative functions are the responsibility of the members of the New York City Council. Because they are counties, each borough also elects a district attorney, as does every other county of the state. Some civil court judges also are elected on a borough-wide basis, although they generally are eligible to serve throughout the city.
A number of areas near and far have been identified most theoretically as New York City's "sixth borough". The only proposal to merit any formal consideration was a 1934 bill submitted by a New York City alderman that suggested merging Yonkers into New York City as a sixth borough.