The Public Interest

Power and powerlessness in a regional city

Roger Starr

Summer 1969

A CONFUSION in nomenclature makes New York City difficult to write about. Is New York City Manhattan Island? It is, but it also isn’t. In 1964,when the City of New York celebrated its three hundredth anniversary, the City of New York was also only sixty-six years old. A plaque in City Hall lists 103 mayors; yet it is equally accurate, and probably much more pertinent, to point out that New York City has had only thirteen mayors since1898,when it was consolidated. In 1898,those who lived in New York City expected that the city they knew would always control the political entity then being established; this lingering expectation confuses most accounts of the present city, and has tended even to confuse its voters and its mayors.

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