For a place-based research, a basic understanding of how a place is governed is essential. Government agencies gather and produce information about places and serve as the portal to primary source research about places.
New York City Agencies manage social services all over the city. NYC agencies oversee everything from transportation and prisons to public parks and city schools. As public, tax funded entities, most city agencies also make information about their initiatives, policies, and history publicly available. Increasingly, this information is available online but for most historical information, you might have to visit an archive. See below for more information on archival research.
Consult the New York City Government Website for more information on the NYC Charter, Administrative Codes, and Rules.
As part of a government transparency initiative, New York City makes a lot of data gathered and produced by city agencies available online. The NYC Open Data project promotes access to data and also allows researchers to download, manipulate, and render data.