New York City used to have political designations called wards, 
which were the smallest political units in NYC. 
Each ward elected an alderman and an assistant alderman to the City Council. 
According to The Encyclopedia Of New York City (1995, Yale University Press) 
the system goes all the way back to 1686, when Governor Thomas Dongan divided 
the city, then entirely in Manhattan, into six wards. In 1791, wards were 
given numerical designations. 
The First Ward was the tip of Manhattan, and districts were given 
consecutive numbers the further north you went in Manhattan. New wards were 
added as the city expanded northward,and increasing population of the older 
wards required subdivision.

The "ward boss", the local provider of patronage and vote gatherer, 
was a most important element in the power of Tammany Hall, 
the pre-eminent political machine in the latter half of the 19th 
Century. Ward politics diminished in stature 
beginning with the 20th Century, and wards were formally abolished
in 1938.
Brooklyn was also composed of wards. When it became a city in 1837,
it was divided into nine wards, 
and by the time of consolidation with NYC in 1898 it had 32 wards.



Within the wards for the purpose of census, EDs or ENUMERATION Districts were created. 
Each enumerator was given a section of the ward and pencil and book in hand he set 
out to give the residents the 3d degree. (A little humor here:) A certain amount of  
streets within an area were assigned an ed #, breaking the ward into neat little clumps. 
Sort of like mini neighborhoods within the ward..
Without a car, Internet and mass mailings the poor enumerator traveled his E.D. 
(Enumeration District) on foot going house to house. 

These areas also served the purpose for voting. It's not an exact match but the voting community was broken into 'ELECTION Districts'. Different then Enumeration Districts but the same principal. Each Ward had areas known as Election Districts. During campaign times certain places (Like today) were set up as Polling Stations, and you went to the assigned station to cast your vote. Problem with trying to use the Election District is in early times (1800s) each ward would start at Election District 1. Ex..Ward 1 Election District 1..Canal st, Wallabey, Court..Polling place 264 Canal Election District 2..Main, Park, Broadway..Polling place..3 Park Ward 2 Election District 1.. Election District 2.. Election District 3..etc BUT it does give you an idea of what streets were grouped together. with what wards. 1889 ELECTION Districts A.D.s or ASSEMBLY districts.. Ahhh, that government isn't confusing enough. They decided to make it even more so:) After 1900 they thought they would do away with the Enumeration Districts and set up Assembly Districts. I suppose someone couldn't figure out what 'enumeration' meant and they thought this would make it simpler. They 'assembled' (Notice the first 3 letters in the word ass..embled) certain blocks within wards and called them now ..(a little fanfare here) Assembly Districts!!! So, bye bye Enumeration, hello Assembly.. ENUMERATION Districts

Each time the census was taken, Federal or State, with the development of more people, this meant more streets, more counties enlarged, counties created, added WARDS, and added EDs/ADs. The bottom line is regardless of what they decided to call them you still need to know them in order to locate the right census reel. Not all at once, but you will need one of them for figuring which census reel your ancestor will be on. What I've done in desperation is, just get every roll that covers the WARD I want. Time consuming BUT you'll find what your looking for. RETURN TO NEWBIE PAGE Back To Brooklyn