On January 1, 1898, amid fanfare and celebration, the city of Greater New York--"the greatest experiment in municipal government the world has ever known" '-was born. The consolidation of the cities, counties, and towns on the New York State side of New York Harbor into one great metropolis was a capstone to one century of rapid economic and population growth and a fitting harbinger of a new century of urban greatness for the region and, indeed, the nation. Now, with another century mark approaching, there is a distinct possibility that the City of New York, already beset by a host of economic and social ills, may not make it to its own centennial intact. The New York State legislature has authorized the residents of one of the five boroughs 2 - Staten Island-to initiate a process of secession and incorporation into a separate city of their own.3 The secession of Staten Island has elicited a host of divergent reactions, ranging from the hyperbolic to the humorous. The proponents of secession, seeing themselves currently relegated to a "neo-colonial status"4 by an inattentive City government, dot their manifestoes with references to the American Revolution, 5 Lithuania, 6 the Berlin Wall,the Iron Curtain, and "the tide of freedom.., rolling across Europe and Asia."' 7 New York City's Mayor Dinkins has warned of secession as "a step into the night, along a treacherous and foggy path that has never been taken."8 Many press accounts, by contrast, have found the matter risible, labelling Staten Island's move a "sitcom secession" 9 and conjuring up images of Fort Sumter on the Hudson and City troops charging across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn 10 to put down the rebellion of the "Confederate States of New York."
Voting Rights, Home Rule, and Metropolitan Governance: The Secession of Staten Island As a Case Study in the Dilemmas of Local Self-Determination,
Colum. L. Rev.
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