Year Historical Events
1754 New York City's first public library, the New York Society Library, is established inside City Hall.
1762 First street lamps installed with City funds.
Jan. 19 Battle of Golden Hill, first conflict of the Revolution
1774 "Tea Party" in New York Harbor
Aug. 27 Battle of Long Island
Sept. 16 Battle of Harlem Heights
Oct. 16 Battle of Pell's Point
Nov. 16 New York City occupied by British.
Evacuation Day New York City returns to American control.
  • Governor appoints a Mayor.
  • Common Council meets.
  • City Seal presented.
1785-1797 New York City becomes state capital (1785 - 1797) and temporarily the nation's capital (1785 - 1790). During this time, George Washington was inaugurated President at Federal Hall at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets, in downtown Manhattan.

By 1790, New York is the largest US city. In the same year, the Congress passed the Residence Act, which designated an approximately 10-mile stretch of land to become the nation's first capital by design. The site, located along the Potomac River, is now known as Washington, DC.

1808 Ellis Island is purchased from the estate of Samuel Ellis by the State of New York and turned over to the Federal government.
1812 Present City Hall completed. (Groundbreaking was in 1803.)
1832 First horse railroad starts on 4th Avenue.
1834 City of Brooklyn established, including towns of Williamsburgh, New Utrecht, Flatlands, Bushwick and Flatbush.
1844 First uniformed police force organized.
1847 A free academy, later known as City University of New York, is chartered by the City's Board of Education.
1853 New York City holds the World Fair (at Crystal Palace near 40th Street and 5th Avenue.)
1856 Central Park is purchased.
1860 Brooklyn Bridge construction began.
1865 The Metropolitan Fire Department is established, which possessed a paid uniform trained force.
1869 The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History were founded.
April 11 The Board of Education and The Board of Superintendents are established--Mayor William L. Strong signed into law a bill that centralized control over the New York City schools. The Board of Education, with authority over the business side of the school system, and a Board of Superintendents, in charge of education, established a school system that precedes by one year, the actual reorganization of the five boroughs into one city.


April 27 Grant's Tomb is presented. Ulysses S. Grant, the country's 18th President, is honored with the presentation of 'Grant's Tomb,' the nation's largest mausoleum at Riverside Drive and 122nd Street.

Under President McKinley's direction as host of the military and naval celebration, 60,000 parade marchers and a fleet of ships in the Hudson ushered in the celebration of the famed general and President.

This year, the Tomb is being feted with renovations to mark the centennial.

May 4 The Charter of Greater New York was signed (to be ratified on January, 1, 1898. During this reform movement, Mayor Strong became (Republican) Mayor. Strong's reform administration inaugurated the modern system of street cleaning and refuse collection, among other things.
May 21 The New York Public Library begins development. The Department of Public Parks was directed to erect a fireproof building to be used as a public library and reading-room. Competition for design was opened up and competitors were to submit floor plans.
June 4 Small Parks Commission is established -- Mayor Strong appoints a committee to act with him in an advisory capacity for the selection of sites for small parks. The "Small Parks Commission" submitted a report in October, stating that the lack of play spaces for children compelled them to play in the streets, which were already occupied by car-tracks and overcrowded with traffic.
June 14 On Ellis Island, the immigration buildings are destroyed by fire.

The first public high schools are opened -- DeWitt Clinton (for boys), Wadleigh (for girls), and Morris (coed).

1903 Williamsburgh Bridge opens.
1904 First subway begins operation.
1927 Holland Tunnel opens.
1931 George Washington Bridge and Floyd Bennett Field (first municipal airport) begin operations.
1935 East River Drive construction begins.
1936 Triboro Bridge linking Manhattan, Bronx and Queens opens.
1937 Lincoln Tunnel opens.
  • World's Fair is held at Flushing Meadows. (1939-40)
  • North Beach Airport (La Guardia) is dedicated.
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge opens.
1948 Idlewild International Airport (JFK) opens.
1951 United Nations Headquarters completed at UN Plaza.
1956 New York Coliseum begins operations.
  • Charter revisions adopted by voters.
  • Throgs Neck bridge opens.
  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opens.
  • World's Fair held at Flushing Meadows, Queens (1964-65).
1972 South Street Seaport restoration established.
  • Police HQ. opens at Police Plaza.
  • World Trade Center dedicated.
  • Charter revisions approved by voters.
  • Fiscal problems arise.
1983 Recovery from '75 fiscal crisis marked by successful issuance of new City notes.
1989 Amended charter issued:
  • City Council redistricted and enlarged to 51 members
  • Public Advocate made an elected office
  • Board of Estimate disbanded, its functions split between the Mayor and the City Council.
1996 City Council approves:

  • Merger of Emergency Medical Service into NYC Fire Department

  • Merger of Transit and Housing Police and Traffic Enforcement into NYC Police Department

  • Creation of Trade Waste Commission to regulate private carters in City's effort to eradicate organized crime influence in that industry.


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