One hundred years ago -- on May 4, 1897 at 9 o'clock in the morning -- the charter of "Greater New York" was signed into law by Governor Frank S. Black.
The new city took the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, totaling 359 square miles, and made the five boroughs into one City of New York.
Until January 1, 1898, when the Charter took effect, New York City consisted of only Manhattan Island.
The call for consolidating the city and outlying communities first began in 1868. Champions of the consolidation feared that other booming urban areas would surpass New York as a first among our country's greatest cities.
A member of the Board of Commissioners of Central Park, Andrew H. Green, later known as "the father of Greater New York", first introduced the idea, making a plea before the State Legislature for the creation of a greater city.
As a result, a commission to study the consolidation was created and although the plan presented several bills for the creation, each was defeated. Finally, in 1894, Mayor Thomas F. Gilroy told the Common Council it was the destiny of the city to encompass the entire metropolitan area.
After several vetoes, the Charter was finally approved one hundred years ago by Governor Black.
At the time of the signing of the Charter, proponents of the consolidation envisioned New York to be the greatest city in the world. And today, one hundred years later, New York City is, without doubt, the Capital of the World.
Tomorrow, at the Public Hearing Chamber in City Hall, we will be celebrating this momentous event along with several of our city's seniors who are 99 years or older.
The actual Charter signed into law by Governor Black will be on display, after which time it will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York until May 11th. This will be the first time since its signing in 1897 that the Charter of Greater New York will be on public display.
New York City surpassed even the greatest dreams of the framers of the Charter and as we look forward to the next 100 years, I'm confident that we will continue to be the greatest city on earth.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani saying, "Happy Birthday, New York."