Contemporary community boards evolved from two earlier forms of neighborhood governance. Robert F. Wagner, then a borough president, formed 12 “Community Planning Councils” in Manhattan in 1951. The councils were charged with advising him on planning and budgetary matters. The city charter revision of 1963, during Wagner’s third term as mayor, expanded “Community Planning Boards” throughout the city.
John V. Lindsay, who followed Wagner as mayor, established “Little City Halls” in a small number of community districts. These offices were headed by a district manager appointed by the mayor to oversee the delivery of services in the district.
The adoption of the 1975 City Charter merged the responsibilities of Wagner’s “Community Planning Boards” and Lindsay’s “Little City Halls,” giving the 59 modern community boards the foundation for the responsibilities they have today. The role of community boards was reaffirmed and expanded when voters approved the charter revision of 1989.