This collection contains receipts, bills, accounts, court documents, and other materials related to the expenses and operations of the Corporation of the City of New York between 1798 and 1873. The first 6 documents, written in 1798 and 1799, are minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, concerning a bill to provide the city with fresh water in order to improve public health. The council's deliberations, with the input of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, focused on whether the water supply should be a municipal or a privately funded project. The council resolved to permit a private company, under direction of the city recorder, to provide the city with water on February 28, 1799 (paving the way for the unsuccessful waterworks enterprises of the Manhattan Company).
The bulk of the collection, dated between 1806 and 1865, pertains to the efforts of New York City's governing body to build and sustain a local infrastructure. Approximately 1,250 bills, receipts, requests for payments, and miscellaneous administrative documents provide financial information about the construction and repair of roads, wharves, piers, slips, and docks; the supply of fresh water; the employment of men for the night watch; the dredging of the river; and the regulation of city lighting. Some receipts and accounts reflect the Common Council's 1811 plan to fix block and lot sizes, which resulted in Manhattan's gridded street pattern, and many documents, bills, and accounts provide insight into the city's interactions with individuals for goods and labor. The collection illustrates the increasing responsibilities and expenditures of the city government in the first half of the 19th century.
The collection also includes approximately 90 documents produced by the Marine Court of New York between 1872 and 1873. These summonses, affidavits of merit, and other court documents primarily regard individual complaints related to unpaid debts.