2023 – The 125th Anniversary of Greater NYC & Today’s NYPD;
Symbolized in Department Flag
This year, 2023, marks the 125th Anniversary (1898-2023) of the creation of the “Greater City of New York.” Also referred to as the “Great Consolidation” or “Consolidation.” The Consolidation Act (1892) gave birth to the City of New York as we know it today – five boroughs, one government.
This is an opportunity to educate the public, and to commemorate the greatest advancement in the history of NYC. Auspicious anniversaries such as this have been recognized in the past in grand ways, and they should be today. Civic pride is an important component of society.
Efforts to determine if NYC and/or the New York City Police Department (NYPD) have plans for ANY activities, events, commemorations, programs, parades, educational efforts, or speeches resulted in negative results. If anyone has information to the contrary, please email the author.
A huge opportunity for celebration, commemoration, and education, by bringing the rich history of the city and it police to the public’s attention, may be missed if action is not taken. School children and the general public should know that NYC, as it is organized today, was created on January 1, 1898.
On January 25, 2023, Police Commissioner (PC) Keechant Sewell (2022- present) revealed a “new look” for NYPD patrol cars. The design of the current Department Flag (1919) is prominently splayed over much of the vehicle. The design could have been tied to the Great Consolidation’s 125th Anniversary.
While acknowledging the flag being more than a century old, what was not said is what the flag represents – the Great Consolidation itself. The NYPD missed the opportunity to use the occasion to celebrate and commemorate the consolidation of twenty-four local police departments into one NYPD.
In 2019, the NYPD celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Department Flag. A link to the NYPD’s official document relating to the 100th Anniversary of the Department Flag is available later in this article.
The Great Consolidation:
As stated in the Introduction, The City of Greater New York, a city of five boroughs, was born on January 1, 1898. This happened after decades of debate and years of city and state legislation. The “Consolidation” resulted in 24 separate police departments in those boroughs becoming today’s NYPD.
The following is an excerpt of a booklet that describes, in part, the events of May 29, 1923, when NYC Celebrated the Great Consolidation.
The present Department Flag, was designed during the term of office of PC Richard E. Enright (1918-1925) by Deputy Police Commissioner Frederick A. Wallis. The symbolism of the various components of the 1919 Flag bear out the Consolidation itself.
According to the website of NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission:
On January 1, 1898, the separate jurisdictions of New York (Manhattan), Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island joined together to form a single metropolis: the City of Greater New York. Movements for consolidation had been considered as far back as 1820, but by the end of the 19th century proponents were claiming that a single metropolitan jurisdiction stretching over five boroughs would run more efficiently and cement New York as the economic and cultural capital of the nation. Resistance was strongest among residents of Brooklyn, who did not want to see their city’s independent identity smothered by New York and their Republican government swamped by the huge numbers of Democrats in Manhattan. The question was put to a public referendum and in the end, the Greater New York movement won by a razor thin margin – 64,744 votes for consolidation, 64,467 against.
“Source: Thomas Kessner, Capital City: New York City and the Men Behind America’s Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860-1900 (New York, 2004). Written by Dr. Brett Palfryman”
The Present NYC Police Department Flag; 1919-Present:
The “official” description of the 1919 flag was published in the Annual Report of the Police Department of the City of New York (ARPDNY) for the Year 1919.
The Department Flag was first officially carried in public by New York City Mayor John F. Hylan (1918-1925), at the Annual Police Parade, held on May 18, 1919.
Additionally, a description of the flag and the symbolism of its components was also provided during a speech given in the same year by Police Commissioner (PC) Richard E. Enright (1918-1925).
To learn more about there individual police departments represented by the field of stars, please click here to view the official NYPD document created in 2019 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Department Flag (a new browser window will open). This author is proud to have been a contributor to the document.
The Department Flag is an important symbol of the NYPD and is steeped in the history of NYC. The story of the formation of the Greater City of New York, and the flag that symbolizes its creation, needs to be told during this 125th Anniversary.
There is still an opportunity for the Mayor, Police Commissioner, and NYC to recognize and commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the birth of the City of Greater New York and its Police Department. The incorporation of the Department Flag on NYPD vehicles is, coincidental or intentional, a great start.