Governmental Units

Counties, Cities, Towns, Villages,
Hamlets, Special Districts,
& Postal Zones in New York State

A Confusing Picture but We Love It!

Indian Reservations

New York State has eight Indian Reservations, within the context of governmental units — Allegany (30,469 acres), Cattaraugus (21,680 acres), Oil Springs (640 acres), Oneida (1) (350 acres), Oneida (2) (6,100 acres), St. Regis (14,640 acres + about 24,250 acres in Canada), Tonawanda (7,549 acres), and Tuscarora (6,249 acres).  These all were originally established through treaties and/or arrangements with the State of New York and are now Federally recognized.  None of these official governmental units are on Long Island.  There are, however, tribal lands recognized by deeds dating to colonial times, which are usually referred to as reservations.  These tribal lands include the Poospatuck Reservation, Unkechauga Nation on east side of Mastic Neck in the Town of Brookhaven (about 72 land acres and 35 water acres), and the Shinnecock Tribe in the Town of Southampton (about 640 acres).  In December, 2009, the Shinnecocks were recognized as by the Federal government as the Shinnecock Nation (or more properly, nearly so, there being a few formal steps still required in the process).

Special Districts

Most of New York State is divided into a hodgepodge of special purpose municipal districts and authorities — school districts, police and fire districts, ambulance districts, garbage districts, street lighting districts, water districts, sewage districts, etc., etc., etc. Some of these districts are more-or-less self governing with their own elected boards (e.g., school districts, many fire districts), some are governed directly by the Town or County, some are semi-independent authorities created by the State or County (e.g., the Long Island Power Authority, the Suffolk County Water Authority). Their evolution has been historical, not necessarily logical. Their boundaries are rarely contiguous.

Postal Zone – “City” & “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, a postal zone boundary (zip code) does not always determine city, village or hamlet boundaries.

In many areas of Long Island and New York State, the problem of non-conforming postal zones leads to a situation where many places have a different community name in their mailing address than the community where the residents believe they actually live.  For example, the Patchogue, NY postal zone includes a large area outside the Village of Patchogue, including Canaan Lake, North Patchogue, East Patchogue, and Hagerman.  The Bellport, NY postal zone also includes areas outside the Village of Bellport, including an area on the east (to Bellhaven Road) that some might consider to be in the Hamlet of Brookhaven.  (Others indicate that Bellhaven Road was the long-time traditional boundary between the two communities — hence the name.)