From the Bronx to get to Staten Island you have to cross the Harlem River and then the entire length of Manhattan and then cross Upper New York Harbor.
In the years you are searching -- 1840 to 1852 -- neither Staten Island nor the Bronx were part of New York City.
For a full explanation of the idiosyncrasies of the geography and governmental organization of New York City, read on:
Downstate New York State has its own special geography ... where things can be a bit confusing to outsiders as well as to long time residents.
Beginning on November 1, 1683, the City and County of New York included only the Island of Manhattan (and a few small islands in the East River). Then in 1873, the City and County of New York annexed the "western" Bronx (the area west of the Bronx River and south of the City of Yonkers) from Westchester County. This was followed in 1895, when the City and County of New York annexed the "eastern" Bronx from Westchester County as well.
There is a small change on June 15, 1886 when the Lloyd's Neck peninsula is transferred from the Town of Oyster Bay, then in Queens County to the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County.
The big change comes in 1898, when the City and County of New York, the City of Brooklyn/Kings County, Richmond County (Staten Island) and the western-third of Queens County (the City of Long Island City, the Towns of Newtown, Flushing and Jamaica and the Rockaway peninsula of the Town of Hempstead) are consolidated into the new New York City. On January 1, 1899, as the eastern two-thirds of Queens secede and form Nassau County, the Rockaway peninsula of the Town of Hempstead remains behind as part of Queens. Then in 1914, the Bronx County separates from New York County. (Thus, for 16 years, from 1898 to 1914, New York City was made up of 5 boroughs, but only 4 counties.)
Simultaneous to these changes, in 1851, Kings County consists of 2 cities (Brooklyn and Williamsburgh) and 6 towns (Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Lots and New Utrecht). In 1854, the City of Brooklyn annexes the City of Williamsburgh and the Town of Bushwick; in 1886, the City of Brooklyn annexes the Town of New Lots; in 1894, the City of Brooklyn annexes the Towns of Flatbush, New Utrecht and Gravesend; and, in 1896, the City of Brooklyn annexes the Town of Flatlands and becomes coterminous with King County.
Now, to make this even more complicated, the U.S. Postal Service has divided the City of New York into 7+ postal cities: New York (covers Manhattan and the Bronx), Staten Island, Brooklyn (covers most of Brooklyn and parts of northwest and southwest Queens), Long Island City (most of the original Town of Newtown in Queens), Flushing (includes all of the original Town of Flushing and parts of the Town of Newtown in Queens and also part of what was Town of Bushwick in Brooklyn), Jamaica (most of the original Town of Jamaica in Queens and a small area in what was the East New York section of the Town of New Lots in Brooklyn) and Far Rockaway (in Queens). (Additionally, a few small areas in the Bronx are serviced by post offices located in Westchester County and hence have "Westchester" mailing addresses, such as "Yonkers, NY", "Pelham Manor, NY", etc.)
Lastly, but not last by any means, New York City is divided into 5 boroughs (city administrative districts) and 5 vestigial counties (sub-divisions of New York State) as:
......the Bronx.........the Bronx
A more detailed geography of NYC follows my name.
I hope this information is useful or, at least, interesting.
The following detailed geography was derived from information in an eMail sent by Nancy Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org) to "NYC-ROOTS-L@rootsweb.com" on January 17, 2000.
The Bronx County/Borough
the only part of NYC that is on the mainland, is a peninsula, north of Manhattan, separated from Manhattan Island by the Spuyten Duyvil Creek and the Harlem River. Also includes North Brother Island, South Brother Island, Riker's Island, City Island, Hart Island, and numerous other small islands in the Long Island Sound. It is bordered to its north by Westchester County.
Kings County/Borough of Brooklyn
is the westernmost part of Long Island and it is bordered on the northeast by Queens County/Borough and includes many sanctuary islands in Jamaica Bay, to its southeast. It is bordered to its south by the Rockaway Inlet, the Atlantic Ocean, Gravesend Bay, Lower NY Bay, and to its west, Upper New York Bay and the East River.
New York County/Borough of Manhattan:
is an island, bordered on the West by the Hudson (aka North) River, the east by the East River and the Harlem River, and on the north by the Spuyten Duyvil Creek and the Harlem River. Also includes Roosevelt Island, Governors Island, and Randalls/Wards Island, as well as Ellis and Liberty Islands.
is on Long Island and includes the Rockaway Peninsula, and many islands within Jamaica Bay. Most of its islands are a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area (National Park Service) and are wildlife refuges and bird sanctuaries. Broad Channel being the exception, which is residential. Queens runs the entire width of Long Island with the East River and Long Island Sound to the north, Kings County/Borough of Brooklyn to its southwest, Nassau County to its east, and Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to its south.
Richmond County/Borough of Staten Island
is an island, lying south of Manhattan Island, bordered by New Jersey to its west (separated by the Arthur Kill), NJ to its north (separated by the Kill Van Kull), Upper NY Bay to its east, and Lower NY Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to its south. Also includes Shooter's Island, Prall's Island, and Island of Meadow - all of which are bird sanctuaries. Also, to its south, are Hoffman Island and Swinburn Island which are part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, administered by the US National Park Service.
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