New York City is composed of five boroughs. Each borough is coextensive with a respective county of New York State as shown below. Throughout the boroughs there are hundreds of distinct neighborhoods, many with a definable history and character to call their own. If the boroughs were each independent cities, four of the boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx) would be among the ten most populous cities in the United States.
Manhattan (New York County; 2009 Est. Pop.: 1,629,054) is the most densely populated borough and is home to Central Park and most of the city's skyscrapers. The borough is the financial center of the city and contains the headquarters of many major corporations, the United Nations, a number of important universities, and many cultural attractions. Manhattan is loosely divided into Lower, Midtown, and Uptown regions. Uptown Manhattan is divided by Central Park into the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, and above the park is Harlem. Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on Manhattan Island at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York. It consists of Manhattan Island and several small adjacent islands: Roosevelt Island, Randall's Island, Wards Island, Governors Island, Liberty Island, part of Ellis Island, and U Thant Island; as well as Marble Hill, a small section on the mainland adjacent to the Bronx. The original city of New York began at the southern end of Manhattan, and expanded in 1898 to include surrounding counties. It is the smallest, yet most urbanized of the five boroughs.
The County of New York is the most densely populated county in the United States, and one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a 2008 population of 1,634,795 living in a land area of 22.96 square miles (59.47 km²), or 71,201 residents per square mile (27,485/km²). It is also one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, with a 2005 personal income per capita above $100,000. Manhattan is the third-largest of New York's five boroughs in population.
Manhattan is a major commercial, financial, and cultural center of both the United States and the world. Anchored by Wall Street, in Lower Manhattan, New York City vies with the City of London as the financial capital of the world and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies. Many major radio, television, and telecommunications companies in the United States are based here, as well as many news, magazine, book, and other media publishers. Manhattan has many famous landmarks, tourist attractions, museums, and universities. It is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations. Manhattan has the largest central business district in the United States, it is the site of both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, and home to the largest number of corporate headquarters in the country. It is the center of New York City and the New York metropolitan region, hosting the seat of city government and a large portion of the area's employment, business, and entertainment activities. As a result, residents of New York City's other boroughs such as Brooklyn and Queens often refer to a trip to Manhattan as "going to the city".
The Bronx (Bronx County: Pop. 1,397,287) is New York City's northernmost borough, the location of Yankee Stadium, home of the New York Yankees, and home to the largest cooperatively owned housing complex in the United States, Co-op City. Except for a small section of Manhattan known as Marble Hill, the Bronx is the only section of the city that is part of the United States mainland. It is home to the Bronx Zoo, the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, which spans 265 acres (1.07 km2) and is home to over 6,000 animals. The Bronx is the birthplace of rap and hip hop culture.
Brooklyn (Kings County: Pop. 2,567,098),] on the western tip of Long Island, is the city's most populous borough and was an independent city until 1898. Brooklyn is known for its cultural, social and ethnic diversity, an independent art scene, distinct neighborhoods and a distinctive architectural heritage.
It is also the only borough outside of Manhattan with a distinct downtown neighborhood. The borough features a long beachfront and Coney Island, established in the 1870s as one of the earliest amusement grounds in the country.
Queens (Queens County: Pop. 2,306,712) is geographically the largest borough and the most ethnically diverse county in the United States, and may overtake Brooklyn as the city's most populous borough due to its growth. Historically a collection of small towns and villages founded by the Dutch, today the borough is predominantly residential and middle class. Queens County is the only large county in the United States where the median income among African Americans, approximately $52,000 a year, is higher than that of White Americans. Queens is the site of Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, and annually hosts the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Additionally, it is home to two of the three major airports serving the New York metropolitan area, LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. (The third is Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey.)
Staten Island (Richmond County: Pop. 491,730) is the most suburban in character of the five boroughs. Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and to Manhattan by way of the free Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City as it provides unsurpassed views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and lower Manhattan. Located in central Staten Island, the 25 km² Greenbelt has some 35 miles (56 km) of walking trails and one of the last undisturbed forests in the city. Designated in 1984 to protect the island's natural lands, the Greenbelt comprises seven city parks. The FDR Boardwalk along South Beach is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long, the fourth largest in the world.
The City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation (colloquially, the Parks Department) is the department of government of the City of New York responsible for maintaining the city's parks system, preserving and maintaining the ecological diversity of the city's natural areas, and furnishing recreational opportunities for city's residents.
The total area of the properties maintained by the department is over 28,000 acres (113 km²).
The department maintains more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. It is responsible for over 950 playgrounds, 700 playing fields, 550 tennis courts, 35 major recreation centers, 30 outdoor pools, 14 miles (23 km) of beaches, and 13 golf courses, as well as seven nature centers, six ice skating rinks, four zoos, four botanical gardens, and four major stadiums. Parks also cares for park flora and fauna, community gardens, historic houses, statues and monuments, and more than 2.5 million trees.
The City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation produces many special events, including concerts and movie premieres. In the summer, the busiest season, the agency organizes free carnivals and concerts, and sends mobile recreation vans to travel throughout the five boroughs providing free rental equipment for skating, baseball, and miniature golf.
The largest single component of parkland maintained by the department is the "forever wild" Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, with an area of 2,765 acres (11 km²). The department is also responsible for such "flagship" parks facilities as Central Park, Prospect Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and the Staten Island Greenbelt.