Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Addressing New York City's Neighborhoods

I have many ways to describe where I live, all equally correct.
  • The neighborhood of Bay Ridge
  • The borough of Brooklyn
  • Kings County
  • New York City
Addressing New York City's addresses correctly seems to be second nature to the natives, but it took slightly longer for me. Here's what I had to learn:

New York City is comprised of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

Each of the boroughs is also its own county: New York (Manhattan), Kings (Brooklyn), Queens (Queens), Bronx (the Bronx) and Richmond (Staten Island). All five of the boroughs/counties make up New York City, although in common parlance, only those who live in Manhattan are said to live in "the city" (a common abbreviation specific to Manhattan).

Each of the boroughs have neighborhoods, most with imprecise borders. But there are some differences in how these neighborhoods are addressed, quite literally. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is every bit as much of a neighborhood as Astoria, Queens. Every neighborhood in Brooklyn, however, has a "Brooklyn, New York" address, but in Queens, letters are addressed to the specific neighborhood (in this case, "Astoria, New York"). The Bronx and Staten Island follow Brooklyn's example, while residents of Manhattan get envelopes addressed to "New York, New York."

To make thinks a little more confusing, Brooklyn also has a specific downtown that's considered its own neighborhood. It's possible to work in downtown Brooklyn in the borough of Brooklyn -- in fact, Paul does. Manhattan also has a downtown, although it's usually called the Financial District. That's where I work.

Of course, novels could also be written on the the intricacies of New York's neighborhoods and their abbreviations, as well as the area code system. That's for another post!

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