Unfortunately, this is also a time where many senseless tragedies occur resulting from the use of illegal fireworks. Each year, the use of illegal fireworks results in 12,000 emergency room visits nationwide and despite the valiant efforts of microsurgeons, thousands of men, women and children sustain permanent injuries to the hands and face.
Last year, I asked the Police and Fire Departments to coordinate a multi-agency effort to crack down on the use of illegal fireworks. The task force has achieved great success. Last year there were 32% fewer injuries from fireworks reported to the Emergency Medical Service. As of June 23rd, 24,480 cases of fireworks were seized with an estimated street value of 50 million dollars. This year cases of fireworks confiscated are up over 400%, from two years ago when 5,956 cases were seized.
I urge all New Yorkers, especially our children, not to use illegal fireworks. Instead, please attend the legal fireworks displays that are held in many locations throughout the city in places such as Shea Stadium in Queens at 9:30 p.m., the East River in Manhattan at 9:25 p.m., Fort Hamilton Park, Brooklyn at 9:30 p.m. and Conference House Park in Staten Island at 9:15 p.m.
As New Yorkers safely celebrate the birthday of our nation, we are reminded that it was just two months ago -- on May 4th -- that New York City celebrated a very important birthday of its own -- the 100th anniversary of the consolidation of the five boroughs of the city.
It is fair to say that even after the Consolidation, city government has for a long time been more responsive to Manhattan than to the other boroughs of our city. We have worked very hard to turn that around and address the needs of all five boroughs, with fairness and equal concern.
In keeping with the spirit of the Charter of Greater New York, we have taken an historic step to implement a program called "One City, One Fare." Last Monday I signed into law a bill eliminating the fare for passengers on the Staten Island Ferry. This is part of our city's program to ensure that from now on, people who live and work in other boroughs will not be penalized by having to pay extra to travel to and from Manhattan. Working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, we have made all of New York City a one-fare zone.
What this means for the entire city is a free transfer between subways and buses, and for Staten Island, it has also means the elimination of the extra fare that many Staten Islanders have long considered to be inequitable. I'm happy to say that for the first time since the nickel fare was implemented in 1905, the Staten Island Ferry will now be free. We are all one city and we should all pay the same amount to travel throughout the five boroughs. Beginning on July 4th, everybody in the city will be treated equally.
In addition to this milestone achievement, last Tuesday Commissioner Scoppetta and I were very proud to announce the historic measures New York City is taking to increase the number of adoptions of our city's children. One of the very best ways we can help children is to place them in families where they have the opportunity to be loved and supported. This year the Administration for Children's Services has completed 4,130 adoptions -- representing a 78 percent increase in adoptions when compared to Fiscal Year 1994, when only 2,312 children were adopted. We are determined to do everything we can to build upon this success.
To that end, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today, New York City will host the 20th Annual Adoption Fair at City Hall Park. The Fair provides an opportunity for prospective parents to learn more about the hundreds of children who are waiting for adoptive families throughout the City of New York.
At the fair, we will unveil one of ACS's new initiatives -- a Family Album of attractive color photographs of children eligible for adoption in New York City. Again, I urge all of the families who are interested in sharing their lives with these beautiful children to come to City Hall Park this afternoon.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani wishing you a happy and safe holiday this Fourth of July.