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Staten Island
Staaten Eylandt  (Dutch)
Borough of New York City
Richmond County
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, looking toward Staten Island from Brooklyn
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, looking toward Staten Island from Brooklyn
Flag of Staten Island
Flag
Official seal of Staten Island
Seal
Location of Staten Island, shown in red, in New York City
Location of Staten Island, shown in red, in New York City
Country  United States of America
State  New York
County Richmond
City New York City
Settled 1661
Named for Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond (Richmond County)
Area
 • Total 102.5 sq mi (265 km2)
 • Land 58.5 sq mi (152 km2)
 • Water 44 sq mi (110 km2)  43%
Population (2015)
 • Total 474,558
 • Density 8,112.1/sq mi (3,132.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern Standard Time (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4)
Zip code prefix 103
Area code 347, 718, 917, 929
Website www.statenislandusa.com

Staten Island /ˌstætən ˈlənd/ is one of the five boroughs of New York City in the U.S. state of New York. In the southwest of the city, Staten Island is the southernmost part of both the city and state of New York, with Conference House Park at the southern tip of the island and the state. The borough is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay. With a 2015 Census-estimated population of 474,558, Staten Island is the least populated of the boroughs but is the third-largest in area at 58 sq mi (150 km2). The borough is coextensive with Richmond County, and until 1975 was the Borough of Richmond. Its flag was later changed to reflect this. Staten Island has been sometimes called "the forgotten borough" by inhabitants who feel neglected by the city government.

The North Shore—especially the neighborhoods of St. George, Tompkinsville, Clifton, and Stapleton—is the most urban part of the island; it contains the designated St. George Historic District and the St. Paul's Avenue-Stapleton Heights Historic District, which feature large Victorian houses. The East Shore is home to the 2.5-mile (4 km) F.D.R. Boardwalk, the fourth-longest in the world. The South Shore, site of the 17th-century Dutch and French Huguenot settlement, developed rapidly beginning in the 1960s and 1970s and is now mostly suburban in character. The West Shore is the least populated and most industrial part of the island.

Motor traffic can reach the borough from Brooklyn via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and from New Jersey via the Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge. Staten Island has Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus lines and an MTA rapid transit line, the Staten Island Railway, which runs from the ferry terminal at St. George to Tottenville. Staten Island is the only borough that is not connected to the New York City Subway system. The free Staten Island Ferry connects the borough to Manhattan and is a popular tourist attraction, providing views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan.

Staten Island had the Fresh Kills Landfill, which was the world's largest landfill before closing in 2001, although it was temporarily reopened that year to receive debris from the September 11 attacks. The landfill is being redeveloped as Freshkills Park, an area devoted to restoring habitat; the park will become New York City's second largest public park when completed.

New York City's five boroughs
Jurisdiction Population Land area Density
Borough County Estimate
(2015)
square
miles
square
km
persons /
sq. mi
persons /
sq. km
Manhattan
New York
1,644,518 22.83 59.1 72,033 27,826
The Bronx
Bronx
1,455,444 42 110 34,653 13,231
Brooklyn
Kings
2,636,735 71 180 37,137 14,649
Queens
Queens
2,339,150 109 280 21,460 8,354
Staten Island
Richmond
474,558 58.5 152 8,112 3,132
City of New York
8,550,405 303.33 781.1 28,188 10,947
State of New York
19,795,791 47,214 122,284 416.4 159
Sources: see individual borough articles

History

Native Americans

As in much of North America, human habitation appeared in the island fairly rapidly after the retreat of the ice sheet. Archaeologists have recovered tool evidence of Clovis culture activity dating from about 14,000 years ago. This evidence was first discovered in 1917 in the Charleston section of the island. Various Clovis artifacts have been discovered since then, on property owned by Mobil Oil.

The island was probably abandoned later, possibly because of the extirpation of large mammals on the island. Evidence of the first permanent Native American settlements and agriculture are thought to date from about 5,000 years ago, although early archaic habitation evidence has been found in multiple locations on the island.

Rossville points are a distinct type of arrowhead that defines a Native American cultural period that runs from the Archaic period to the Early Woodland period, dating from about 1500 to 100 BC. They are named for the Rossville section of Staten Island, where they were first found near the old Rossville Post Office building.

Burial Ridge Skeletons
Skeletons unearthed at Lenape burial ground in Staten Island, the largest pre-European burial ground in NYC

At the time of European contact, the island was inhabited by the Raritan band of the Unami division of the Lenape. In Lenape, one of the Algonquian languages, Staten Island was called Aquehonga Manacknong, meaning "as far as the place of the bad woods", or Eghquhous, meaning "the bad woods". The area was part of the Lenape homeland known as Lenapehoking. The Lenape were later called the "Delaware" by the English colonists because they inhabited both shores of what the English named the Delaware River.

The island was laced with Native American foot trails, one of which followed the south side of the ridge near the course of present-day Richmond Road and Amboy Road. The Lenape did not live in fixed encampments, but moved seasonally, using slash and burn agriculture. Shellfish was a staple of their diet, including the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) abundant in the waterways throughout the present-day New York City region. Evidence of their habitation can still be seen in shell middens along the shore in the Tottenville section, where oyster shells larger than 12 inches (305 mm) are not uncommon.

Burial Ridge, a Lenape burial ground on a bluff overlooking Raritan Bay in what is today the Tottenville section of Staten Island, is the largest pre-European burial ground in New York City. Bodies have been reported unearthed at Burial Ridge from 1858 onward. After conducting independent research, which included unearthing bodies interred at the site, ethnologist and archaeologist George H. Pepper, was contracted in 1895 to conduct paid archaeological research at Burial Ridge by the American Museum of Natural History. The burial ground today is unmarked and lies within Conference House Park.

European settlement

The first recorded European contact with the island was in 1520 by Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano, who on behalf of the Kingdom of France's Francis I, sailed through The Narrows on the ship La Dauphine, which originally had departed from Le Havre, and anchored for one night.

In 1609, the English explorer Henry Hudson, sailing for the Dutch Republic, sailed into Upper New York Bay on his ship the Half Moon. The Dutch named the island as Staaten Eylandt (literally "States Island"), in honor of the Dutch parliament which is still known as the Staten-Generaal. (Nevertheless, an alternative etymology rumor spread in the 1930s and 1940s and still told in the U.S. is that the Dutch explorers came to the New York harbor and spotted the land. They then supposedly asked themselves: “Is dat een eiland?” meaning "Is that an island?", some non-Dutch misunderstood the question as a phrase name of the land).

The first permanent Dutch settlement of the New Netherland colony was made on Governor's Island in 1624, which they had used as a trading camp for more than a decade before. In 1626 the colony transferred to the island of Manhattan, which was newly designated as the capital of New Netherland.

The Dutch did not establish a permanent settlement on Staaten Eylandt for many decades. From 1639 to 1655, Cornelis Melyn and David de Vries made three separate attempts to establish a permanent settlement on the island, but each time the settlement was destroyed in the conflicts between the Dutch and the local tribe. In 1661, the first permanent Dutch settlement was established at Oude Dorp (Dutch for "Old Village"), just south of the Narrows near South Beach, by a small group of Dutch, Walloon, and French Huguenot families. Many French Huguenots, who were Protestant, had gone to the Netherlands as refugees from the religious wars in France; some joined the emigration to New Netherland. The last vestige of Oude Dorp is the name of the present-day neighborhood of Old Town, adjacent to Old Town Road.

Vorleezer-house
Voorlezer's House built c. 1696
Perine-house
Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House

Richmond County

At the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1667, the Dutch ceded New Netherlands colony to England in the Treaty of Breda, and the Dutch Staaten Eylandt, anglicized as "Staten Island", became part of the new English colony of New York.

In 1670, the Native Americans ceded all claims to Staten Island to the English in a deed to Gov. Francis Lovelace. In 1671, in order to encourage an expansion of the Dutch settlements, the English resurveyed Oude Dorp (which became known as Old Town) and expanded the lots along the shore to the south. These lots were settled primarily by Dutch families and became known as Nieuwe Dorp (meaning "New Village"), which later became anglicized as New Dorp.

Captain Christopher Billopp, after years of distinguished service in the Royal Navy, came to America in 1674 in charge of a company of infantry. The following year, he settled on Staten Island, where he was granted a patent for 932 acres (3.8 km2) of land. According to one version of an oft-repeated but inaccurate tale, Capt. Billopp's seamanship secured Staten Island to New York, rather than to New Jersey: the Island would belong to New York if the captain could circumnavigate it in one day, which he did. Mayor Michael Bloomberg perpetuated the myth by referring to it at a news conference in Brooklyn on February 20, 2007.

In 1683, the colony of New York was divided into ten counties. As part of this process, Staten Island, as well as several minor neighboring islands, was designated as Richmond County. The name derives from the title of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, an illegitimate son of King Charles II.

In 1687 and 1688, the English divided the island into four administrative divisions based on natural features: the 5,100-acre (21 km2) manorial estate of colonial governor Thomas Dongan in the northeastern hills known as the "Lordship or Manner of Cassiltown", along with the North, South, and West divisions. These divisions later evolved into the four towns of Castleton, Northfield, Southfield, and Westfield. In 1698, the population was 727.

The government granted land patents in rectangular blocks of eighty acres (320,000 m2), with the most desirable lands along the coastline and inland waterways. By 1708, the entire island had been divided up in this fashion, creating 166 small farms and two large manorial estates, the Dongan estate and a 1600-acre (6.5 km2) parcel on the southwestern tip of the island belonging to Christopher Billop (Jackson, 1995).

In 1729, a county seat was established at the village of Richmond Town, located at the headwaters of the Fresh Kills near the center of the island. By 1771, the island's population had grown to 2,847.

18th century and the American Revolution

WilliamHowe1777ColorMezzotint
Lord Howe who met Benjamin Franklin at the Conference House for a failed peace conference, frequented the Rose and Crown Tavern at New Dorp Lane and Richmond Road

The island played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War. On March 17, 1776, the British forces under Lord Howe evacuated Boston and sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia. From Halifax, Howe prepared to attack New York City, which then consisted entirely of the southern end of Manhattan Island. General George Washington led the entire Continental Army to New York City in anticipation of the British attack. Howe used the strategic location of Staten Island as a staging ground for the invasion.

Over 140 British ships arrived over the summer of 1776 and anchored off the shores of Staten Island at the entrance to New York Harbor. The British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries numbered about 30,000. Howe established his headquarters in New Dorp at the Rose and Crown Tavern, near the junction of present New Dorp Lane and Amboy Road. There the representatives of the British government reportedly received their first notification of the Declaration of Independence.

In August 1776, the British forces crossed the Narrows to Brooklyn and outflanked the American forces at the Battle of Long Island, resulting in the British control of the harbor and the capture of New York City shortly afterwards. Three weeks later, on September 11, 1776, Lord Howe received a delegation of Americans consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Edward Rutledge, and John Adams at the Conference House on the southwestern tip of the island (known today as Tottenville) on the former estate of Christopher Billop. However, the Americans refused a peace offer from Howe in exchange for withdrawing the Declaration of Independence, and the conference ended without an agreement.

Conference-house-staten-island
The Conference House.

On August 22, 1777, the Battle of Staten Island occurred here between the British forces and several companies of the 2nd Canadian Regiment fighting alongside other American companies. The battle was inconclusive, though both sides surrendered over a hundred troops as prisoners. The Americans finally withdrew.

In early 1780, while the Kill Van Kull was frozen solid due to a brutal winter, Lord Stirling led an unsuccessful Patriot raid from New Jersey on the western shore of Staten Island. It was repulsed in part by troops led by British Commander Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings.

British forces remained on Staten Island for the remainder of the war. Most Patriots fled after the British occupation, and the sentiment of those who remained was predominantly Loyalist. Even so, the islanders found the demands of supporting the troops to be heavy. The British army kept headquarters in neighborhoods such as Bulls Head. Many buildings and churches were destroyed for their materials, and the military's demand for resources resulted in an extensive deforestation by the end of the war. The British army again used the island as a staging ground for its final evacuation of New York City on December 5, 1783. After their departure, the largest Loyalist landowners fled to Canada and their estates were subdivided and sold.

19th century

RichmondtownStreet
Historic Richmond Town museum complex is located in the heart of Staten Island.

On July 4, 1827, the end of slavery in New York state was celebrated at Swan Hotel, West Brighton. Rooms at the hotel were reserved months in advance as local abolitionists and prominent free blacks prepared for the festivities. Speeches, pageants, picnics, and fireworks marked the celebration, which lasted for two days.

In 1860, parts of Castleton and Southfield were made into a new town, Middletown. The Village of New Brighton in the town of Castleton was incorporated in 1866, and in 1872 the Village of New Brighton annexed all the remainder of the Town of Castleton and became coterminous with the town.

The Conference House was built by Captain Christopher Billopp in 1680. This grand stone manor overlooks the Arthur Kill and Perth Amboy, New Jersey. His grandson, Colonel Christopher Billopp, owned the house when it was taken over by Admiral Lord Richard Howe, head of the British Forces in the Americas.

Consolidation with New York City

NEW HOUSING ON STATEN ISLAND - NARA - 547837
New housing on Staten Island, 1973. Photo by Arthur Tress.
US Navy 070528-N-5758H-116
US Navy ships tied up at the home port pier during Fleet Week in 2007.

The towns of Staten Island were dissolved in 1898 with the consolidation of the City of Greater New York, as Richmond County became one of the five boroughs of the expanded city. Although consolidated into the City of Greater New York in 1898, the county sheriff of Staten Island maintained control of the jail system, unlike the other boroughs who had gradually transferred control of the jails to the NYC Department of Corrections. The jail system was not transferred until January 1, 1942. Years later Staten Island became (and still is) the only borough without a NYC Department of Corrections major detention center. The Department of Corrections only maintains court holding jails at the three court buildings on Staten Island for inmates attending court. The various police agencies on Staten Island maintain inhouse holding jails for post arrest detention prior to transfer to a corrections jail in another borough.

The construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, along with the other three major Staten Island bridges, created a new way for commuters and tourists to travel from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and areas farther east on Long Island. The network of highways running between the bridges has effectively carved up many of Staten Island's old neighborhoods.

The bridge opened many areas of the borough to residential and commercial development, especially in the central and southern parts of the borough, which had been largely undeveloped. Staten Island's population doubled from about 221,000 in 1960 to about 443,000 in 2000.

Throughout the 1980s, a movement to secede from the city steadily grew in popularity, reaching its peak during the mayoral term of David Dinkins. In a 1993 referendum, 65% voted to secede, but implementation was blocked in the State Assembly.

In the 1980s, the United States Navy had a base on Staten Island called Naval Station New York. It had two sections: a Strategic Homeport in Stapleton and a larger section near Fort Wadsworth, where the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge enters the island. The base was closed in 1994 through the Base Realignment and Closure process because of its small size and the expense of basing personnel there. It was announced that the property would be converted into a mixed-use waterfront neighborhood with a projected completion date of 2009.

Fresh Kills and its tributaries are part of the largest tidal wetland ecosystem in the region. Its creeks and wetlands have been designated a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Opened along Fresh Kills as a "temporary landfill" in 1947, the Fresh Kills Landfill was a repository of trash for the city of New York. The landfill, once the world's largest man-made structure, was closed in 2001, but was briefly re-opened for the debris from Ground Zero following the September 11 attacks in 2001. It is to be converted into a park. NYC Parks completed and released the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) for the Fresh Kills Park project, on the former landfill, in May 2009. Plans for the park include a bird-nesting island, public roads, boardwalks, soccer and baseball fields, bridle paths, and a 5,000-seat stadium.

Today, freshwater and tidal wetlands, fields, birch thickets and a coastal oak maritime forest, as well as areas dominated by non-native plant species, are all within the boundaries of Fresh Kills. Already, many of the landscapes of Fresh Kills possess a stark beauty, with 360 degree, wide horizon views from the hills, over 300 acres (1.2 km2) of salt marsh and a winding network of creeks.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting the eastern portion of the island to Brooklyn
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting the eastern portion of the island to Brooklyn

Timeline

17th century

  • 1609 – Henry Hudson names island "Staaten Eylandt."
  • 1630 – Island granted by the Dutch West India Company to Michael Pauw.
  • 1636 – Part of the island granted by the Dutch West India Company to David Pietersen de Vries.
  • 1640 – Remaining part of the island granted by the Dutch West India Company to Cornelis Melyn.
  • 1641 – Settlement established by David Pietersen de Vries at Oude Dorp, New Netherland.
  • 1655–60 – Lenape attack and burn the last Cornelius Melyn/David de Vries attempt at settlement, capturing or killing the Dutch settlers
  • 1664 – Island transferred from Dutch to British.
  • 1668 – Island becomes part of British Province of New York.

18th century

  • 1713 – St. Andrew's Church built.
  • 1727 – Richmond village becomes seat of Richmond County, New York.
  • 1740 – Moravian Cemetery established.
  • 1763 – Moravian Church built.
  • 1776
    • July 3: British military occupation begins.
    • September 11: Staten Island Peace Conference held.
  • 1777 – August 22: Battle of Staten Island occurs.
  • 1783 – November 25: British military occupation ends.
  • 1788 – Towns of Castleton, Northfield, Southfield, and Westfield established.
  • 1792 – Reformed Dutch Church incorporated.
  • 1799 – Quarantine established.

19th century

  • 1802 – Episcopal Church (Northfield) built.
  • 1817 – Richmond Turnpike Company ferry begins operating to New York City.
  • 1823 – Population: 6,135.
  • 1825 – Old Staten Island Dyeing Establishment incorporated (approximate date).
  • 1826 – Agricultural Society organized.
  • 1828 – Fort Tompkins Light commissioned.
  • 1829 – Richmond County Poor Farm established (approximate date).
  • 1833 – Sailors' Snug Harbor opens for retired merchant seamen.
  • 1837
    • Courthouse and jail built.
    • Pavilion Hotel in business.
  • 1840 – Bethel United Methodist Church (Tottenville) built.
  • 1842 – Woodrow Methodist Church built.
  • 1844 – Dutch Reformed Church on Staten Island built.
  • 1845 – Moravian Church built.
  • 1847 – Richmond County Law Library and Marine's Family Asylum founded.
  • 1848 – St. Peter's Cemetery established.
  • 1855 – St. Joseph's Church established.
  • 1856
    • Staten Island Historical Society founded.
    • New Dorp Light commissioned.
  • 1860
    • Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway begins operating.
    • Town of Middletown formed from parts of Castleton and Southfield.
    • Fort Tompkins built.
  • 1861 – Battery Weed fortification built.
  • 1865 – Church of the Holy Comforter built.
  • 1866
    • Brighton Heights Reformed Church and St. Paul's Memorial Church (Staten Island, New York) built.
    • Staten Island Leader newspaper begins publication.
    • Villages of Edgewater and Port Richmond incorporated.
  • 1869 – Tottenville and S.R. Smith Infirmary incorporated.
  • 1870 – Population: 33,029.
  • 1871
    • July 30: Westfield ferry disaster.
    • New Brighton Village Hall built.
  • 1878 – St. Philip's Baptist Church, the first Black church on Staten Island, opens.
  • 1880 – Staten Island Water Supply Company established.
  • 1881 – Natural Science Association founded.
  • 1883
    • November: Richmond County bicentennial.
    • Wagner College founded in Rochester. It does not move to Staten Island until 1918.
  • 1884 – Saint George Terminal and Staten Island Academy open.
  • 1886
    • Richmond County Advance newspaper begins publication.
    • Richmond County Savings Bank and St. John's Guild Children's Hospital (New Dorp) established.
  • 1888 – Richmond Country Country Club opens.
  • 1890 – Population: 51,693.
  • 1894 – Calvary Presbyterian Church built.
  • 1898
    • January 1: Island becomes Borough of Richmond of New York City.
    • George Cromwell becomes Borough President.

20th century

  • 1900 – Population: 67,021.
  • 1901 – June 14: Northfield ferry accident.
  • 1902 – Curtis High School begins construction.
  • 1903 – Fort Wadsworth Light commissioned. Notre Dame Academy (Grymes Hill) established.
  • 1904 – Christ Church New Brighton (Episcopal) built. Curtis High School is established.
  • 1906 – Staten Island Borough Hall built. Happyland Amusement Park opens.
  • 1907 – Public Museum of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences established.
    • Temple Emanu-El built.
    • Procter & Gamble factory (Milliken) opens.
  • 1910 – Population: 85,969.
  • 1919 – Richmond County Courthouse built.
  • 1923 – Staten Island Tunnel construction begins.
  • 1924 – Ritz Theater (Port Richmond) built.
  • 1926 – Staten Island Armory built. Conference House Park established.
  • 1927 – Port Richmond High School established.
  • 1928 – Outerbridge Crossing (bridge) opens to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Goethals Bridge opens to Elizabeth, New Jersey.
  • 1929 – St. George Theater built.
  • 1930 – Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church opens.
  • 1931 – Bayonne Bridge opens to Bayonne, New Jersey.
  • 1933 – Notre Dame College (Staten Island) opens.
  • 1935 – South Beach-Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk constructed.
  • 1936 – Staten Island Zoo opens. Robin Road Trestle (bridge) built. Foreign trade zone established on Staten Island.
  • 1937 – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Grotto construction begins.
  • 1938 – Lane Theater opens in New Dorp.
  • 1941 – Beachland Amusements opens.
  • 1942 – January 1: Staten Island jails transferred from the County Sheriff's Department to the NYC Department of Corrections
  • 1947 – Fresh Kills Landfill, Willowbrook State School, and Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art established.
  • 1949 – Great Kills Park opens.
  • 1950 – Population: 191,555.
  • 1956 – Staten Island Community College founded.
  • 1958 – Historic Richmond Town (museum) established.
  • 1959 – Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge opens to Elizabethport, New Jersey.
  • 1960 – December 16: 1960 New York mid-air collision.
  • 1962 – Archaeology Society of Staten Island founded.
  • 1963 – April 20: Rossville Fire.
  • 1964 – Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opens to Brooklyn. Staten Island Expressway opens.
  • 1965 – Willowbrook Parkway opens.
  • 1966 – Staten Island Register newspaper begins publication. Robert T. Connor becomes Borough President. Hylan Plaza shopping centre in business.
  • 1970 – Population: 295,443.
  • 1971 – St. John's University Staten Island campus opens.
  • 1973 – Staten Island Mall in business.
  • 1975 – "Borough of Richmond" becomes "Borough of Staten Island."
  • 1976 – Arthur Kill Correctional Facility and College of Staten Island established. Staten Island Children's Museum opens.
  • 1977 – Preservation League of Staten Island and Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art founded. Anthony Gaeta becomes Borough President.
  • 1978 – Northfield Community Local Development Corp. founded.
  • 1979 – Fort Wadsworth transferred to US Navy from US Army.
  • 1980 – Population: 352,029.
  • 1981 – WSIA radio begins broadcasting.
  • 1984 – Ralph J. Lamberti becomes Borough President.
  • 1988 – Staten Island AIDS Task Force founded.
  • 1990
    • Naval homeport opens.
    • Guy Molinari becomes Borough President.
  • 1992 - RZA, GZA, and Ol' Dirty Bastard form the Wu Tang Clan out of the Clifton and Stapleton sections of the Island. Along with Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Masta Killa.
  • 1993 – November 2: Voters approve secession of Staten Island from New York City.
  • 1994 – Staten Island Conservatory of Music founded.
  • 1999 – The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden and College of Staten Island Baseball Complex open. Staten Island Yankees baseball team established.

21st century

  • 2001 – Richmond County Bank Ballpark opens. Fresh Kills Landfill closes.
  • 2002 – James Molinaro becomes Borough President.
  • 2004 – Eltingville Transit Center built.
  • 2007 – Richmond University Medical Center established.
  • 2008 – Staten Island LGBT Community Center opens.
  • 2010 – Population: 468,730.
  • 2011 – Mosque (Dongan Hills) opens. Arthur Kill Correctional Facility closes.
  • 2012 – October: Hurricane Sandy.
  • 2017-2019 -now called the "Staten Island Renaissance" - $1.5 Billion invested in contsruction in St George and Stapleton- waterfront luxury apartments, new entertainment, 100's of new stores, famous restaurants -Empire Outlets, a 5 star hotel and the worlds largest ferris wheel New York Wheel 60 stories high are all under construction.

Geology

Staten Island Geology
The geology of Staten Island.
Serpentinite Staten Island
Serpentinite shown in rock cut along I-278 in Staten Island by Todt Hill marked on USGS geological map.

During the Paleozoic Era, the tectonic plate containing the continent of Laurentia and the plate containing the continent of Gondwanaland were converging, the Iapetus ocean that separated the two continents gradually closed and the resulting collision between the plates formed the Appalachian Mountains. During the early stages of this mountain building known as the Taconic orogeny, a piece of ocean crust from the Iapetus ocean broke off and became incorporated into the collision zone and now forms the oldest bedrock strata of Staten Island, the serpentinite.

This strata of the Lower Paleozoic (approximately 430 million years old) consists predominantly of the serpentine minerals, antigorite, chrysotile, and lizardite, it also contains asbestos and talc. At the end of the Paleozoic era (248 million years ago) all major continental masses were joined into the supercontinent of Pangaea.

  • The Palisades Sill has been designated a National Natural Landmark, being "the best example of a thick diabase sill in the United States." It underlies a portion of northeast Staten Island, with a visible outcropping in the Travis section of Staten Island, off Travis Road in the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. This is the same formation which appears in New Jersey and upstate New York along the Hudson River in Palisades Interstate Park. The sill extends southward beyond the cliffs in Jersey City beneath the Upper New York Harbor and resurfaces on Staten Island. The Palisades sill date from the Early Jurassic period, 192 to 186 million years ago.
  • Staten Island has been at the southern terminus of various periods of glaciation. The most recent, the Wisconsin Glacier, ended approximately 12,000 years ago. The accumulated rock and sediment deposited at the terminus of the glacier is known as the terminal moraine present along the central portion of the island. The evidence of these glacial periods is visible in the remaining wooded areas of Staten Island in the form of glacial erratics and kettle ponds.

At the retreat of the ice sheet, Staten Island was connected by land to Long Island as The Narrows had not yet formed. Geologists' reckonings of the course of the Hudson River have placed it alternatively through the present course of the Raritan River, south of the island, or through present-day Flushing Bay and Jamaica Bay.

Geography

See also: List of Staten Island neighborhoods

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Richmond County has a total area of 102.5 square miles (265 km2), of which 58.5 square miles (152 km2) is land and 44.0 square miles (114 km2) (43%) is water. It is the third-smallest county in New York by land area and fourth-smallest by total area.

Staten Island is geographically a part of New Jersey first settled by New Netherland then by New York. Staten Island is separated from Long Island by the Narrows and from mainland New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull. Staten Island is positioned at the center of New York Bight, a sharp bend in the shoreline between New Jersey and Long Island. The region is considered vulnerable to sea-level rise. On October 29, 2012, the island experienced severe damage and loss of life along with the destruction of many homes during Hurricane Sandy.

In addition to the main island, the borough and county also include several small uninhabited islands:

  • The Isle of Meadows (at the mouth of Fresh Kills)
  • Prall's Island (in the Arthur Kill)
  • Shooters Island (in Newark Bay; part of it belongs to New Jersey)
  • Swinburne Island (in Lower New York Bay)
  • Hoffman Island (in Lower New York Bay)

The highest point on the island, the summit of Todt Hill, elevation 410 ft (125 m), is also the highest point in the five boroughs, as well as the highest point on the Atlantic Coastal Plain south of Great Blue Hill in Massachusetts and the highest point on the coast proper south of Maine's Camden Hills.

In the late 1960s the island was the site of important battles of open-space preservation, resulting in the largest area of parkland in New York City and an extensive Greenbelt that laces the island with woodland trails.

Staten Island is the only borough in New York City that does not share a land border with another borough (Marble Hill in Manhattan is contiguous with the Bronx). The borough has a land border with Elizabeth and Bayonne, New Jersey on uninhabited Shooters Island.

Wildlife

Winter Dorm Views at Wagner
From left to right, as seen from northeastern Staten Island: Jersey City, Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, and Downtown Brooklyn.

Staten Island is home to a large and diverse population of wildlife. Wildlife found on Staten Island include white tailed deer, hundreds of species of birds including turkey, hawks, egrets and ring-necked pheasants. Staten Island is also home to horseshoe crabs, cotton tailed rabbits, opossums, raccoons, garter snakes, red-eared slider turtles, newts, spring peeper frogs, leopard frogs, fox, box turtles, northern snapping turtles and common snapping turtles.

Parkland

Staten Island includes thousands of acres of federal, state, and local park land including the "greenbelt" and "blue belt" park systems and the Gateway National Recreation Area in addition to hundreds of acres of private wooded areas.

The parks on Staten Island are managed by various state, federal and local agencies.

Five sites are part of the 26,000-acre (110 km2) Gateway National Recreation Area, managed by the U.S. National Park Service and patrolled by the United States Park Police:

  • Great Kills Park
  • Miller Field
  • Fort Wadsworth
  • Hoffman Island
  • Swinburne Island

The National Park Service also maintains full-time Wildland Firefighters to patrol the Staten Island sites in wildfire brush trucks.

Two New York State parks are managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation:

  • Mount Loretto Unique Area
  • Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve

New York State Park Police officers patrol these parks and the surrounding streets.

359 acres (145 ha) of State Forests, state wildlife management areas and Wetlands are managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

  • Saint Francis Woodland
  • Butler Manor Woods
  • Arden Heights Woods
  • Todt Hill Woods
  • North Mount Loretto State Forest
  • Lemon creek Tidal Wetland Wildlife Management Area
  • Blosers Wetland Wildlife Management Area
  • Goethal Pond Wetland
  • Bridge Creek Tidal Wetland
  • Old Place Creek Tidal Wetland
  • Oakwood Beach Wetland
  • Sharrots Shoreline Natural Resource Area
  • Sawmill Creek Wetland

The 359 acres (145 ha) of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation land throughout the island are patrolled by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police officers and one NYS DEC Forest Ranger, who has the dual task of law enforcement and fire suppression.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation manages 156 parks, including:

  • Conference House Park
  • Willowbrook Park
  • Graniteville Quarry Park
  • Silver Lake Park
  • Clove Lake Park

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 3,835
1800 4,564 19.0%
1810 5,347 17.2%
1820 6,135 14.7%
1830 7,082 15.4%
1840 10,965 54.8%
1850 15,061 37.4%
1860 25,492 69.3%
1870 33,029 29.6%
1880 38,991 18.1%
1890 51,713 32.6%
1900 67,021 29.6%
1910 85,969 28.3%
1920 116,531 35.6%
1930 158,346 35.9%
1940 174,441 10.2%
1950 191,555 9.8%
1960 221,991 15.9%
1970 295,443 33.1%
1980 352,029 19.2%
1990 378,977 7.7%
2000 443,728 17.1%
2010 468,730 5.6%
Est. 2015 474,558 1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010 and 2015

At the 2010 Census, there were 468,730 people living in Staten Island, which is an increase of 5.6% since the 2000 Census. Staten Island is the only borough with a non-Hispanic White majority. According to the 2010 Census, 64.0% of the population was non-Hispanic White, down from 79% in 1990, 10.6% Black or African American, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 7.5% Asian, 0.2% from some other race (non-Hispanic) and 2.6% of two or more races. 17.3% of Staten Island's population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race).

In 2009, approximately 20.0% of the population was foreign born, and 1.8% of the populace was born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parents. Concordantly, 78.2% of the population was born in the United States. Approximately 28.6% of the population over five years of age spoke a language other than English at home, and 27.3% of the population over twenty-five years of age had a bachelor's degree or higher.

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, the borough's population was 75.7% White (65.8% non-Hispanic White alone), 10.2% Black or African American (9.6% non-Hispanic Black or African American alone), 0.2% American Indian and Alaska Native, 7.4% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 4.6% from Some other race, and 1.9% from Two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 15.9% of the population.

According to the survey, the top ten European ancestries were the following:

The borough has the highest proportion of Italian Americans of any county in the United States. Since the 2000 census, a large Russian community has been growing on Staten Island, particularly in the Rossville, South Beach, and Great Kills area. There is also a significant Polish community mainly in the South Beach and Midland Beach area and there is also a large Sri Lankan community on Staten Island, concentrated mainly on Victory Boulevard on the northeastern tip of Staten Island towards St. George. The Little Sri Lanka in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island is one of the largest Sri Lankan communities outside of the country of Sri Lanka itself. The borough is also home to a Chinanteco-speaking Mexican American community.

The vast majority of the borough's African American and Hispanic residents live north of the Staten Island Expressway, or Interstate 278. In terms of religion, the population is largely Roman Catholic. There is a growing presence of Egyptian Copts, the vast majority of whom are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Per the 2009 American Community Survey, the median income for a household was $55,039, and the median income for a family was $64,333. Males had a median income of $50,081 versus $35,914 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,905. About 7.9% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.

Languages

As of 2010, 70.39% (306,310) of Staten Island residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 10.02% (43,587) spoke Spanish, 3.14% (13,665) Russian, 3.11% (13,542) Italian, 2.39% (10,412) Chinese, 1.81% (7,867) other Indo-European languages, 1.38% (5,990) Arabic, 1.01% (4,390) Polish, 0.88% (3,812) Korean, 0.80% (3,500) Tagalog, 0.76% (3,308) other Asian languages, 0.62% (2,717) Urdu, 0.57% (2,479) other Indic languages, and African languages were spoken as a main language by 0.56% (2,458) of the population over the age of five. In total, 29.61% (128,827) of Staten Island's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.

Tourism

In 2009, Borough President James Molinaro started a program to increase tourism on Staten Island. At the top of that program was a new website, visitstatenisland.com.

The tourism program also includes a "Staten Island Attractions" video that is aired in both the Staten Island and the Manhattan Whitehall ferry terminals, as well as informational kiosks at the terminals, which supply printed information on Staten Island attractions, entertainment and restaurants.

The 625 ft (191 m) New York Wheel, which could become the world's tallest Ferris wheel, is to be constructed in the St. George neighborhood, alongside the planned Empire Outlets retail complex. First reported in June 2012 and announced by mayor Michael Bloomberg in September 2012, construction had been expected to begin early in 2014. Completion had been expected to be in 2015, but this has been postponed several times. In April 2013 it was reported to be July 4, 2016.

Staten Island is known as the borough of parks because of its numerous parks, some well known parks are Clove Lakes, Silver Lake, Greenbelt and High Rock. A great sight to see gorgeous points of Staten Island is Moses mountain which was a mountain where Robert Moses wanted to build a highway through but protests retracted this arrangement and now is a key point of Staten Island for tourists.

Culture

See also: Culture of New York City

Local support for the arts

Postcards 9 11 Memorial, St. George Esplanade, Staten Island, NY
"Postcards 9/11 Memorial", St. George Esplanade, Staten Island.

Artists and musicians have been moving to Staten Island's North Shore so they can be in close proximity to Manhattan but also have enough affordable space to live and work. Filmmakers, most of whom work independently, also play an important part in Staten Island's art scene, which has been recognized by the local government. Staten Island Arts (formerly The Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island) is Staten Island's local arts council and helps support local artists and cultural organizations with regrants, workshops, folklife and arts-in-education programs, and advocacy. Conceived by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation to introduce independent and international films to a broad and diverse audience, the Staten Island Film Festival (SIFF) held its first four-day festival in 2006.

Attractions

Historic Richmond Town (not to be confused with the town of Richmond, New York) is New York City's living history village and museum complex. Visitors can explore the diversity of the American experience, especially that of Staten Island and its neighboring communities, from the colonial period to the present. The village area occupies 25 acres (100,000 m2) of a 100-acre (0.40 km2) site with about 15 restored buildings, including homes, commercial and civic buildings, and a museum.

The island is home to the Staten Island Zoo, which recently opened a newly refurbished reptile exhibit and is in the process of designing a new carousel and leopard enclosure. Zoo construction commenced in 1933 as part of the Federal Government's works program on an eight-acre (three-hectare) estate willed to New York City. It was opened on June 10, 1936, the first zoo in the U.S. specifically devoted to an educational mandate. The Zoo was also the first to exhibit all the 32 varieties of rattlesnakes known to occur in the United States. In the late 1960s, the Zoo maintained the most complete rattlesnake collection in the world with 39 varieties.

Museums

Sailors-snug-harbor
Sailors' Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Alice Austen House Museum, the Conference House, the GaribaldiMeucci Museum, Historic Richmond Town, Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, the Noble Maritime Collection, Sandy Ground Historical Museum, Staten Island Children's Museum, the Staten Island Museum and the Staten Island Botanical Garden, home of The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden can all be found on the island.

The National Lighthouse Museum recently undertook a major fundraising project and opened in 2012, and the Staten Island Museum (art, science, and history) plans to open a new branch in Snug Harbor by 2014.

Periodicals

Staten Island's local paper is The Staten Island Advance. The paper also has an affiliated website called silive.com.

SI Parent Magazine, Staten Island's parenting magazine, has been publishing monthly under the parent company, Family Resource Publications, Inc. since 1989 as a local resource for families. The SIParent website siparent.com debuted in 2005 as an interactive tool for parents, followed by social media and email marketing initiatives: Staten Island Parent on Facebook; Staten Island Parent on Twitter; SI Parent digital issue;

In culture

Film

Movies filmed partially or wholly on Staten Island include:

Literature

Ki Longfellow was born on the island. Longfellow is the author of The Secret Magdalene and other books. Her Sam Russo historical detective noir novels are based in and around Stapleton.

Lois Lowry, the author of The Gossamer and many other books, attended school on Staten Island.

Writer Paul Zindel lived in Staten Island during his youth and based most of his teenage novels in the island.

George R.R. Martin based King's Landing on the view of Staten Island from his childhood home in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Music

Staten Island also has a local music scene. Most shows are at The Full Cup or the old Dock Street in Stapleton. These venues in the North shore are part of the art movement mentioned above. Local bands include many punk, ska, hardcore punk, indie, metal, and pop punk bands.

Musicians who were born or reside on Staten Island and groups that formed on Staten Island are found at List of people from Staten Island.

Television

  • Jersey Shore was filmed in part of Staten Island in beginnings of seasons.
  • Time Warner Cable's news channel NY1 airs a weekly show called This Week on Staten Island, hosted by Anthony Pascale. The magazine style show takes content from NY1's daily/hourly newscasts called "Your Staten Island News Now".
  • The documentary, A Walk Around Staten Island with David Hartman and Barry Lewis, premiered on public television station WNET on December 3, 2007, profiling Staten Island culture and history, including major attractions such as the Staten Island Ferry, Historic Richmondtown, the Conference House, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Chinese Scholars Garden and many more sites.
  • Additional television series shot partially or wholly on Staten Island include Big Ang, The Book of Daniel, The Education of Max Bickford, Staten Island Law, Staten Island Cakes, Mob Wives, and as well as parts of many episodes of Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with the only Law & Order TV film, Exiled (starring Chris Noth). The sitcom Grounded for Life was set on Staten Island, while in the animated Godzilla: The Series, the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team (HEAT)—which monitors Godzilla—has their headquarters based on Staten Island in an old ferry terminal. Will & Grace episode 3 of series 8 The Old Man Of The Sea, was set in Staten Island.
  • Sex and the City "Season 3" Episode 1 "Where There's Smoke..." was filmed on Staten Island and featured the Staten Island Ferry
  • "Girls" "Season 2" Episode 6 "Boys" was filmed in Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island Ferry, Nicolas Street in St. George, Hamilton and Westervelt Avenue, and the final scenes taking place on Carroll Place all on the North Shore of Staten Island.

Theater

St. George Theater, Staten Island, New York
The St. George Theater

The St. George Theatre serves as a cultural arts center, hosting educational programs, architectural tours, television and film shoots, concerts, comedy, Broadway touring companies, and small and large children's shows. Artists who have performed there include The B-52s, The Jonas Brothers, Tony Bennett, and Don McLean. In 2012, the NBC musical drama Smash filmed several scenes there.

Transportation

Staten island ferry 2
The Staten Island Ferry provides travel between lower Manhattan and the St. George Ferry Terminal.

Staten Island is connected to New Jersey via three vehicular bridges and one railroad bridge. The Outerbridge Crossing to Perth Amboy, New Jersey is at the southern end of Route 440 and the Bayonne Bridge to Bayonne, New Jersey is at the northern end of Route 440, which continues into Jersey City, New Jersey. From the New Jersey Turnpike, the Goethals Bridge using I-278 connects from Elizabeth, New Jersey to the Staten Island Expressway. The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge carries freight between the northwest part of the island and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge using I-278 (the Staten Island Expressway). Once in Brooklyn, I-278 becomes the Gowanus Expressway and then the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, providing access to Manhattan through various tunnels and bridges. The only pedestrian link to Staten Island is via a footpath on the Bayonne Bridge.

Unlike the other four boroughs, but like many suburbs, Staten Island has no large, numbered grid system. New Dorp's grid has a few numbered streets but they do not intersect with any numbered avenues. Some neighborhoods, however, organize their street names alphabetically.

Staten Island was, at one point, concurrently home to the longest vertical lift bridge, steel arch bridge, and suspension bridge in the world; the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, respectively. The Arthur Kill Bridge still holds the title for longest vertical lift bridge, while the Bayonne and Verrazano bridges are now the 4th and 8th longest, in their respective categories.

Staten Island has more cars per capita than any other borough in New York City, with car ownership attained by 81.6% of all Staten Island households. Citywide, the car ownership rate is 45%.

Public transport

Public transportation on the island is limited to:

  • New York City Department of Transportation (Staten Island Ferry)
  • MTA Regional Bus Operations (local service on Staten Island and express service to Manhattan)
  • Staten Island Railway service from St. George to Tottenville

Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry is the only direct transportation network from Staten Island to Manhattan, roughly a 25-minute trip. The St. George ferry terminal built in 1950 recently underwent a $130-million renovation and now features floor-to-ceiling glass for panoramic views of the harbor and incoming ferries. The ferry had its fare eliminated in 1997. The Staten Island Ferry had undergone ramp renovations which were completed in 2014. The Staten Island Ferry transports over 60,000 passengers per day. The ferry makes the 25 minute trip across New York Harbor 109 times every weekday, 24 hours every day, while utilizing five boats, and 75 times on Saturdays and 68 times every Sunday, using a three boat fleet. NYS Department of Transportation Peace Officers in conjunction with the New York City Police Department and U.S Coast Guard patrol the ferry terminal.

Trains

SIR 448 at Great Kills Station
The Staten Island Railway operates along the Richmond/Amboy Roads corridor.

The Staten Island Railway traverses the island 24/7 from its northeastern tip to its southwestern tip. The Staten Island Railway opened on April 23, 1860 and was owned and operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) until July 1, 1971 when the line was bought by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The Staten Island Railway continued to have its own railway police, the Staten Island Rapid Transit Police until 2005 when the 25 officer police force was consolidated into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police. MTA Police officers patrol the Island's only passenger railway. Staten Island is the only borough not served by the New York City Subway, as the Staten Island Tunnel was abandoned in the middle of construction in the 1920s. It lies dormant beneath Owl's Head Park in Brooklyn. As such, express bus service is provided by NYC Transit throughout Staten Island to Lower and Midtown Manhattan.

A five-mile right of way exists along the north shore of Staten Island. The rail line was built, owned, and operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which used the line for passenger service until March 31, 1953. It then became a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad freight line until the 1980s, when freight service was stopped. There have been proposals to revive the abandoned North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railway for passenger service as a rail line or for use as Bus Rapid Transit. There is also a proposal to build a West Shore Light Rail in the center of the Dr. Martin Luther King Expressway, Staten Island Expressway, and West Shore Expressway, continuing to Richmond Valley, Staten Island to connect with the main line of the Staten Island Railway. The South Beach Branch, which transported summer vacationers to South Beach, Staten Island, also ceased service on March 31, 1953.

Buses

Further information: List of bus routes in Staten Island and List of express bus routes in New York City § Manhattan to Staten Island

MTA Regional Bus Operations provides local and limited bus service with over 30 lines throughout Staten Island. Most lines feed into the St. George Ferry Terminal in the northeastern corner of the borough. Three lines (the S53, S93, S79 SBS) provide service over the Verrazano Bridge to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The S79 SBS is the first Select Bus Service route in the borough, although it does not feature off-board fare payment characteristic of other Select Bus Service lines. Beginning September 4, 2007, the MTA began offering bus service from Staten Island to Bayonne, New Jersey, over the Bayonne Bridge via the S89 limited-stop bus, allowing passengers to connect to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail's 34th Street Station, giving Staten Island residents a new route into Manhattan. It is notably, despite Staten Island's proximity to New Jersey, the only route directly into New Jersey from Staten Island via public transportation.

Express bus service to Manhattan via the Verrazano Bridge and the Gowanus Expressway is also available for a $7.00 fare each way. The X1, X10, and X17 are the only ones to run outside of rush hour. The X17 received Sunday service on September 30, 2012, and also makes a stop in Bay Ridge to compensate for the loss of the X28 in that area. In January 2013, the X1 became the first express bus route to receive 24/7 service.

Freight rail

CSX operates a class I short line freight rail service via the Travis Branch with a 38 acres (15 ha) intermodal on-dock rail facility on the southern end of Staten Island which connects to the National Rail System via the Arthur Kill Rail Bridge to New Jersey. In addition to the intermodal on-dock rail yard, the CSX Staten Island Rail line also connects to the Sanitation departments waste transfer station. CSX railroad police officers patrol and respond to emergencies along the freight line.

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