|By Stanley Abel and Allen Mintz
time ago Henry Stevens sent me this entire because he knew of my
interest in this issue.
What the meaning of the inscription was neither of us knew. My
co-author, Stanley Abel, a history buff and New Yorker knew that
it referred to an historical event of the City of New York.
At the end of the nineteenth century New York, Brooklyn, Bronx,
Queens and Staten Island were all independent cities. New
York was an affluent business community and the others were bedroom
or farm communities with serious financial problems. For
instance, the tax rate in New York was $1.82 and in Brooklyn was
$2.85 per hundred dollars of assessed value.
New York was fifty five million dollars below its debt limit while
Brooklyn did not have enough money to pay for water and sewer lines
that were needed. The idea behind consolidation was that
by combining the communities, the outflow of tax monies from New
York would give the other towns the cash to do necessary improvements
while lowering their tax rate.
Andres Graves had first broached this idea in 1868, but nothing
was done about it. The New York State Chamber of Commerce,
New York’s Mayor Abram S. Hewitt, and the State Legislature
approved it in 1888. On the other hand The Loyal League of
Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Eagle argued that the consolidation would
destroy the homogenous community that existed. Of course
the property owners in these communities were all for consolidation
because it would lower their taxes.
In 1894 all areas concerned voted on the plan in a nonbinding
referendum. Except in two small towns in Queens the plan
In 1895 the Governor approved the plan and New York annexed the
areas. By this annexation the City of New York increased
its population from 2 million to 3.4 million and became the most
populous city in the United States.
References for this article were:
GOTHAM by E. G. Burrows and published by Oxford University Press
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NEW YORK CITY Edited by K. T. Jackson and
published by Yale University Press 1995