A Google search result will quickly define the term, “city proper”, as all of the surrounding towns and districts that ultimately map out a city. This term can also apply to New York City. Manhattan is what the media often focuses on, often even referring to the island as New York City. I know, New York City’s a bit complicated to explain to an outsider, so I’ll try my best to help you understand it.
New York City is made up of 5 counties. These include New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond. Each county is also considered to be a borough of the City. The 5 boroughs are Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, respectively. Each of these boroughs are made up of individual towns and villages. All of it, is New York City proper.
Growing up, I understood I had family, in what seemed so far away, in a place called The Bronx. I was aware that my god mother lived in Staten Island, which was closer to Jersey than New York, and I also learned, mostly from both the almost hypnotic ten minute loops that played throughout the day on NY1 news that we should, at all cost, stay away from Brooklyn. I rarely went in to Manhattan, unless it was to shop with my dad for DJ equipment in Chinatown, the roundtrip subway rides to Times Square Station with my aunt or when my family would coordinate a visit to relatives in Washington Heights every time a new one would arrive from the Dominican Republic. Regardless of what neighborhood we drove through, I learned to call Manhattan la ciudad, or The City. It’s what everyone called it. I learned to know everything outside of it by their names. Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn or The Bronx.
I’m proud to introduce you to, through this blog, my city. This is the City Improper, a site about gentrification, overdevelopment, local history, and initiates in the outer boroughs of New York City.