Sixth borough

Aerial view of Governors Island in New York City on a sunny day. There is a lawn and some houses in the foreground, and skyscrapers in the background.
Governors Island is one example of a place that has been proposed as a "sixth borough."[1]

The term sixth borough is used to describe any of a number of places not geographically co-extensive with any of the five boroughs of New York City, that have instead been referred to as a metaphorical part of the city by virtue of their geographic location, demographic composition, special affiliation with New York City, or cosmopolitan character. The list has included adjacent cities and counties in the New York metropolitan area as well as in other states, U.S. territories, and foreign countries.[2][3] The list of places referred to as a sixth borough has included locations as diverse as Riker's Island; Philadelphia; Beverly Hills, California; Nashville, Tennessee; and most recently, China.

Places adjacent to or within New York City

Historical proposals

The Westchester County cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon directly border the northern part of the Bronx and share much of that borough's heavily urbanized character. In 1894, the voters of Yonkers and Mount Vernon, along with voters in other parts of southern Westchester, took part in a referendum to determine if they wanted to become part of New York City, along with the voters in Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties (today's Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, respectively). At that time, the city consisted only of Manhattan and a portion of the present-day Bronx, which had been part of Westchester until it became part of New York City in 1874. While the results of the 1894 vote were positive elsewhere, including in several other adjacent sections of Westchester, which were then annexed to the city and which thus became part of the new borough of the Bronx, the returns were so negative in Yonkers and Mount Vernon that those two areas were not included in the consolidated city and remained independent municipalities.[4] A subway connection was planned between Getty Square in downtown Yonkers and the New York City Subway, but the project was abandoned after the failed merger vote. Local residents frequently refer to the area as "the sixth borough", referring to the two cities' location bordering the Bronx, the high number of local residents employed in Manhattan, and the area's similarly urban character.[5][2]

In 1934, a bill, submitted by a New York City alderman Elias H. Jacobs, proposed merging Yonkers into New York City as a sixth borough.[6] Joseph F. Loehr, then Mayor of Yonkers, was opposed to the merger, despite Jacobs' argument that such a maneuver would cause a rise in real estate prices and increase quality of transit.[6]

Hudson Waterfront

The Hudson Waterfront is often referred to as a "sixth borough," especially Fort Lee (pictured).[2]

New Jersey's Hudson Waterfront lies opposite Manhattan on the Hudson River, and during the Dutch colonial era, was under the jurisdiction of New Amsterdam and known as Bergen. Jersey City and Hoboken in Hudson County are sometimes referred to as the sixth borough, given their proximity and connections by PATH trains.[7][8][9][10][2] Fort Lee, in Bergen County, opposite Upper Manhattan and connected by the George Washington Bridge, has also been called the sixth borough.[11][12][13][2] In the 1920s, soon after the creation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey there were calls to integrate the rail and subway system in New York and Northern New Jersey by expanding the New York City Subway.[14][15] After Mayor Bloomberg called for the 7 Subway Extension to continue to Secaucus Junction, a feasibility study was conducted and released in April 2013.[16][17][18]


In 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to the city's waterfront and waterways as a composite sixth borough during presentations of planned rehabilitation projects along the city's shoreline,[19][20][21][22][23][24] including Governor's Island in the Upper New York Bay.[25] Other individuals have also referred to the city's waterways as a sixth borough.[26][27]

Contemporary proposals

A 2011 proposal by Vishaan Chakrabarti, a professor at Columbia University's Center for Urban Real Estate, suggested using land fill to connect lower Manhattan and Governors Island, so creating a new neighborhood referred to as "LoLo".[1] Land fill has been used to expand Manhattan before, most notably in the creation of Battery Park City, which utilized material from the construction of the original World Trade Center. Chakrabarti and others have pointed out challenges to the proposal, which include cost, the strict regulations surrounding building with land fill, and the potential environmental effects of the project.[1] The proposal was revisited in 2015 by author Jon Methven of The Awl, in which he referred to the proposed borough as "Frankenborough".[28][29]

Outside New York City

Places outside of the New York metropolitan area that are home to large populations of former New Yorkers have also been referred to as the "sixth borough", including Philadelphia;[30][31] Miami, and South Florida in general;[32] Los Angeles;[33] and, outside the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and Israel.[34]


Philadelphia has frequently been cited as a "sixth borough" due to its proximity to New York and the movement of New York residents to Philadelphia for various reasons, including lower rent prices and generally lower cost of living.[30][31][35][36][37][38][39] The nickname has been met with apprehension by both Philadelphia and New York publications.[40][41][42][43] Some have even disputed inaccurate reporting about Philadelphia by New York-based reporters.[44]


Foreign countries, such as China, have also been referred to as a "sixth borough." In China's instance, it is referred to as the "sixth borough" by some media because many Chinese companies invest in developments in Brooklyn, such as Pacific Park.[45]

Other uses

The term also applies to other entities as well. For instance, Manhattan College, located in Riverdale, Bronx, refers to its Jaspers student cheering section as "The 6th Borough" at home basketball games played in Draddy Gymnasium.[46] In addition, the University of Connecticut (UConn) has often promoted its Huskies sports teams, especially in men's basketball, as "the Sixth Borough", given the dominance of that team in games played at Madison Square Garden.[47] UConn also sells a T-shirt making this claim.[48]

In popular culture

Jonathan Safran Foer published a short story about a fictional sixth borough, an island that gradually eroded. The story was featured in his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.[49]


  1. 1 2 3 Satow, Julie (November 22, 2011). "Visions of a Development Rising From the Sea". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Popik, Barry (January 24, 2006). "Sixth Borough Yonkers, Scarsdale, Fort Lee, Jersey City, Hoboken, Nassau County, Rockland County, S". Big Apple. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  3. Nevius, Michelle & Nevius, James (2009), Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City, New York: Free Press, ISBN 141658997X, pp. 177–78
  4. travelfrosch. "The Sixth Borough". The Virtual Tourist. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  5. 1 2 "ADDING OF YONKERS TO CITY IS SOUGHT; Alderman Jacobs Says He Will Present Bill Seeking Merger as a Sixth Borough.", The New York Times, November 3, 1934. Retrieved August 26, 2007. "Merging the city of Yonkers with New York City as a sixth borough was proposed last night by Alderman Elias H. Jacobs, Washington Heights Democrat, who said he would introduce a local bill in the Board of Aldermen branch of the Municipal Assembly at its next meeting on Nov. 13."
  6. Strunsky, Steve (December 9, 2001). "CITIES; Bright Lights, Big Retail". The New York Times.
  7. Holusha, John. "Commercial Property / The Jersey Riverfront; On the Hudson's West Bank, Optimistic Developers", The New York Times, October 11, 1998. Accessed May 25, 2007. "'That simply is out of the question in midtown,' he said, adding that some formerly fringe areas in Midtown South that had previously been available were filled up as well. Given that the buildings on the New Jersey waterfront are new and equipped with the latest technology and just a few stops on the PATH trains from Manhattan, they become an attractive alternative. 'It's the sixth borough', he said."
  8. Belson, Ken (May 21, 2007). "In Stamford, a Plan to Rebuild an Area and Build an Advantage". The New York Times.
  9. Olear, Greg (December 2002). "The Sixth Borough A good look at Hoboken". The Copperator. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  10. Lefkowitz, Melanie. "Bergen County's Fort Lee: Town With a View". The Wall Street Journal. April 30, 2011. Accessed September 16, 2012.
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  14. "The New Jersey Commuter in New York Subway". Vol. 58, No. 27. December 31, 1921: 1151–1152. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
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  18. "Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn Unveil Comprehensive Plan for New York city's Waterfront and Waterways" (Press release). NYCEDC. March 14, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  19. Rovzar, Chris. "Mayor Bloomberg Attempts to Rebrand the 'Sixth Borough'". New York Magazine. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  20. Mainland, Alex (February 18, 2011). "A Blog for the 'Sixth Borough'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  21. Yeh, Richard (March 14, 2011). "City Reclaims Waterfront as 'Sixth Borough'". WNYC. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  22. "Sixth Borough Stories from New York's Waterfront". Columbia School of Journalism. 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2013. The sixth borough. That's what Mayor Bloomberg calls the 578 miles of shore land that encircle the five boroughs of New York City.
  23. Cunningham, Ryan A. (January 22, 2012). "Will NYC have a 6th Borough?". Metropolis Magazine. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  24. "Studio Report The Speculation Studio: Governors Island, The Sixth Borough?". Urban Omnibus. January 11, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
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  26. Mainland, Alexis (February 20, 2011). "NEW YORK ONLINE; Where to Point Your Browser". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  27. Methven, John (August 11, 2011). "Let's Build a New Borough". The Awl. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  28. Amato, Rowley (August 16, 2015). "Could the City of New York Build a "Sixth Borough"?". Curbed. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  29. 1 2 Carlson, Jen. "Sixth Borough Stealing NYC Residents". Gothamist. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  30. 1 2 Pressler, Jessica (August 14, 2005). "Philadelphia Story: The Next Borough". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  31. "Sixth Borough".
  32. "The 32 Sixth Boroughs of New York City, According to the 'Times,' in Order from Worst to Best". The Awl.
  33. Barry Popik. "The Big Apple: Sixth Borough (Yonkers, Scarsdale, Fort Lee, Jersey City, Hoboken, Nassau County, Rockland County)".
  34. Gabriel, Trip (December 15, 2013). "A Grand Weekend Out for Pennsylvanians". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
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  37. Sifton, Sam (October 29, 2009). "On the Question of Cheese Steaks". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
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  39. "Philly Loses Imaginary Sixth-Borough Status". Gawker. July 15, 2005. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  40. Van Zuylen-Wood, Simon (December 16, 2013). The New York Times Still Thinks We’re the Sixth Borough. Philadelphia Magazine Retrieved July 16, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. McQuade, Dan (February 13, 2013). "What The New York Times Gets Wrong About Philadelphia". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  42. Scoop (March 14, 2011). "Philly to Become NYC's Seventh Borough?". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  43. Rubin, Daniel (August 18, 2015). "Hip To Be Square". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  44. Hawkins, Andrew J. (April 30, 2015). "Brooklyn businesses head for the sixth borough: China". Crain's New York. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  45. "STUDENT ACTIVITIES". Manhattan College Student Activities. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  46. Jacobs, Jeff (January 5, 2016). "UConn's Ticket To Power Five Conference Goes Through New York". Hartford Courant. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  47. "Sixth Borough Shirt". Husky Fan Shop. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  48. Foer, Jonathan Safran (September 17, 2004). "The Sixth Borough". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
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