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August 2001


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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Walter Greenspan <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 27 Aug 2001 10:48:19 EDT
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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
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On 8/27/01 (9:41:37 AM EDT), Suzanne Etherington ([log in to unmask] )

"I pass this request for info along for a non-cyber colleague - Can anyone
tell me which is the oldest town in NYS?"

It depends what your friend means by the word 'town'?

The earliest municipal corporation was the Village of Breuckelen -- lineal
ancestor of the present-day Brooklyn -- in 1646.

There were settlements prior to this, but none of these settlements had an
independent government.

As there is great confusion over the meaning of the word 'town', I'm
including after my name a NYS Geographic Glossary with the current NYS
definitions of county, city, town, village, hamlet and postal zone.

I hope this information is useful or, at least, interesting.

L'Shannah Tova
& Happy 5762,

Walter Greenspan

.   Cities, Towns, Villages, Hamlets and Postal Zones in New York State

New York State is divided into counties.

A county is a municipal corporation, a subdivision of the state, created to
perform state functions; a "regional" government.  All counties are divided
into cities, towns and Indian reservations.

A city is a unique governmental entity with its own special charter.  Cities
are not sub-divided, except into neighborhoods, which are informal geographic

A town is a municipal corporation and encompasses all territory within the
state except that within cities or Indian reservations.  Towns can be
sub-divided into villages and hamlets.

A village is a general purpose municipal corporation formed voluntarily by
the residents of an area in one or more towns to provide themselves with
municipal services.  The pattern of village organization is similar to those
of a city.  A village is divided into neighborhoods, which are informal
geographic areas.

A hamlet is an unincorporated area in one or more towns that is governed
at-large by the town(s) it is in.  A hamlet is divided into neighborhoods,
which are informal geographic areas.

Postal Zone "City" and "Town"
A postal zone "City" and "Town" is an administrative district established by
the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the mail.  Postal zone "City" and "Town"
may not (but are encouraged to) conform to municipal or community borders.
Thus, postal zone location does not always determine city, village or hamlet

Please be aware:  In many areas of New York State, the problem of
non-conforming postal zones leads to a situation where the majority of places
have a different community name in their mailing address than the community
where that place is actually located.