Staten Island

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Staten Island
Dutch: Staateneiland
Staten Island, New York
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
Location of Staten Island shown in orange.
Location of Staten Island shown in orange.
Coordinates: 40°34′34.61″N 74°8′41.42″W / 40.5762806°N 74.1448389°W / 40.5762806; -74.1448389Coordinates: 40°34′34.61″N 74°8′41.42″W / 40.5762806°N 74.1448389°W / 40.5762806; -74.1448389
Country United States
State New York
County Richmond
City New York City
Settled 1661
Government
 • Type Borough (New York City)
 • Borough president James Oddo (R)
(Borough of Richmond)
 • District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.
(Richmond County)
Area
 • Total 102.50 sq mi (265.5 km2)
 • Land 58.48 sq mi (151.5 km2)
 • Water 44.02 sq mi (114.0 km2)
Population (2013)
 • Total 472,621[1]
 • Density 8,111.7/sq mi (3,131.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
Zip code 10301–10314
Area code(s) 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, located in the southwest part of the city. Staten Island is the southernmost part of the both the City and State of New York, with Conference House Park at the southern tip of the island and the state.[2] 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 2013 Census-estimated population of 472,621,[1] Staten Island is the least populated of the boroughs but is the third-largest in area at 59 sq mi (153 km2). The borough is coextensive with Richmond County, and until 1975 the borough was officially named the Borough of Richmond.[3] Staten Island has been sometimes called "the forgotten borough" by inhabitants who feel neglected by the city government.[4][5]

The North Shore — especially the neighborhoods of St. George, Tompkinsville, Clifton, and Stapleton — is the most urban part of the island; it contains the officially 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.[6] The South Shore developed rapidly beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, and is mostly suburban in character. The West Shore is the least populated and most industrial part of the island.

Staten Island used to claim the largest landfill in the world.[7] It was closed in 2001, then shortly afterward temporarily reopened to receive the debris from the September 11th attacks.[8] The landfill is being made into what will be New York City's second largest public park.[9]

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 a 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.

New York's five boroughs overview
Jurisdiction Population Land area
Borough County 1 July 2013
Estimates
square
miles
square
km
Manhattan New York 1,626,159 23 59
The Bronx Bronx 1,418,733 42 109
Brooklyn Kings 2,592,149 71 183
Queens Queens 2,296,175 109 283
Staten Island Richmond 472,621 58 151
8,405,837 303 786
19,651,127 47,214 122,284
Source: United States Census Bureau[10][11][12]

History[edit]

Native Americans[edit]

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

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 American Indian settlements and agriculture are thought to date from about 5,000 years ago,[13] although early archaic habitation evidence has been found in multiple locations on the island.[14]

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.[15]

At the time of European contact, the island was inhabited by the Raritan band of the Unami division of the Lenape. The Lenape who spoke Lenape one of the Algonquian languages called Staten Island Aquehonga Manacknong, meaning "as far as the place of the bad woods", or Eghquhous, meaning "the bad woods".[16] The area was part of the Lenape homeland known as Lenapehoking. The Lenape were called the "Delaware" by the Europeans because they inhabited both shores of the Delaware River.

The island was laced with 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[edit]

The first recorded European contact with the island was in 1520 by Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano, who in the employ of the French crown, sailed through The Narrows on the French ship La Dauphine and anchored for one night.

In 1609, the English explorer Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch sailed into Upper New York Bay on his ship the Half Moon. Staaten Eylandt (literally "States Island") was named in honor of the Dutch parliament known as the Staten-Generaal (see also Generality Lands for background).

The first permanent Dutch settlement of the New Netherland colony was made on Governor's Island in 1624, which had been used as a trading camp by them for over a decade before. In 1626 the colony transferred to the island of Manhattan, and was newly designated as the capital of New Netherland. Staaten Eylandt nevertheless remained uncolonized by the Dutch 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 tribes.[17] In 1661, the first permanent Dutch settlement was established at Oude Dorp (Dutch for "Old Village"),[18] just south of the Narrows near South Beach, by a small group of Dutch, Walloon, and Huguenot families. Today, the last vestige of Oude Dorp exists as the present-day neighborhood of Old Town, adjacent to Old Town Road.[19]

Voorlezer's House built c. 1696

Richmond County[edit]

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 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 myth, 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, according to the myth. Mayor Michael Bloomberg perpetuated the myth by referring to it at a news conference in Brooklyn on February 20, 2007.[20]

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, were 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.[21]

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.[21]

American Revolution, 18th century[edit]

Lord Howe who met Benjamin Franklin at the Conference House for 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, which was the largest armada to set sail until World War II. The British troops 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. It is here that 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 thereafter. Three weeks later, on September 11, 1776, the British 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. The Americans refused the peace offer from the British in exchange for the withdrawal of the Declaration of Independence, however, and the conference ended without an agreement.

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

British forces remained on Staten Island throughout the war. Most Patriots fled after the British occupation, and so local sentiment of the remaining population was predominantly Loyalist. However, the islanders found the demands of supporting the troops to be onerous. The British kept headquarters in neighborhoods such as Bulls Head. Many buildings and churches were destroyed, and the military demand for resources resulted in an extensive deforestation of the island by the end of the war.

The British again used the island as a staging ground for their final evacuation of New York City on December 5, 1783. After the war, the largest Loyalist landowners fled to Canada and their estates were subdivided and sold.

19th century[edit]

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[edit]

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 currently 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.[citation needed]

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 previously 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.[22]

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.

Opened as a "temporary landfill" in 1947, Fresh Kills Landfill was a repository of trash for the city of New York. The landfill was closed in 2001,[23] but was briefly re-opened for the debris from Ground Zero following the September 11 attacks in 2001. The Fresh Kills Landfill has been treated[citation needed] and cleaned up.[citation needed] A park larger than Central Park is in the works. Its creeks and wetlands have been designated a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Fresh Kills and its tributaries are part of the largest tidal wetland ecosystem in the region. Plans for the park include a bird-nesting island, public roads, boardwalks, soccer and baseball fields, bridle paths, and a 5,000-seat stadium.[24]

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.

Panoramic view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects the eastern portion of the island to Brooklyn

Timeline[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]

Geology[edit]

The geology of 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.

  • 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.[58]

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[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough-county has a total area of 102.5 square miles (265.5 km²). Land comprises 58.5 square miles (151.5 km²) and water 44.0 square miles (114.0 km²) of it (42.95%).[59]

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.[60] On October 29, 2012, the island experienced severe damage and loss of life along with the destruction of many homes during Hurricane Sandy.[61][62]

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

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[edit]

Jersey City, The Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, and Downtown Brooklyn as seen from Northeast Staten Island.

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.

Parks and Woods[edit]

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:

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:

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

359 Acres 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 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:

Government and politics[edit]

History[edit]

Presidential election results[63]
Year Republican Democrat
2012 48.2% 74,222 50.8% 78,178
2008 51.7% 86,062 47.6% 79,311
2004 56.4% 90,325 42.7% 68,448
2000 45.0% 63,903 51.9% 73,828
1996 40.8% 52,207 50.5% 64,684
1992 47.9% 70,707 38.5% 56,901
1988 61.5% 77,427 38.0% 47,812
1984 65.1% 83,187 34.7% 44,345
1980 58.6% 64,885 33.7% 37,306
1976 54.1% 56,995 45.4% 47,867
1972 74.2% 84,686 25.6% 29,241
1968 55.3% 54,631 35.2% 34,770
1964 45.5% 42,330 54.4% 50,524
1960 56.5% 50,356 43.4% 38,673

Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, Staten Island has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a "strong" mayor-council system. The centralized New York City government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services on Staten Island.

The office of Borough President was created in the consolidation of 1898 to balance centralization with local authority. Each borough president had a powerful administrative role derived from having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city's budget and proposals for land use. The Office of Borough President became one focal point for opinions over the Vietnam War when former intelligence agent and peace activist Ed Murphy, ran for office in 1973, sponsored by the Staten Island Democratic Association (SIDA) and was supported by those who exposed Willowbrook, promoted civil rights and health care activists.

Ed Murphy's combat veteran status deflected traditional right wing attacks on liberals and the campaign facilitated the emergence of more liberal politics on Staten Island. In 1989 the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that Brooklyn, the most populous borough, had no greater effective representation on the Board than Staten Island, the least populous borough, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision.[64]

Borough Hall in St. George, Staten Island.

Since 1990 the Borough President has acted as an advocate for the borough at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York state government, and corporations. Staten Island's Borough President is James Oddo, a Republican elected in November 2013 with 69.1% of the vote. Oddo is the only Republican borough president in New York City.

Staten Island's politics differ considerably from those of New York City's other boroughs. Although in 2005 44.7% of the borough's registered voters were registered Democrats and 30.6% were registered Republicans, the Republican Party holds a small majority of local public offices. Staten Island is the base of New York City's Republican Party in citywide elections. In the 2001 mayoral election, borough voters chose Republican Michael Bloomberg, with 75.87% of the vote, over Democrat Mark Green, with 21.15% of the vote.

Since Green narrowly lost the election citywide, Staten Island provided the margin of Bloomberg's victory. The main political divide in the borough is demarcated by the Staten Island Expressway; areas north of the Expressway tend to be more liberal while the south tends to be more conservative. Local party platforms center on affordable housing, education and law and order. Two out of Staten Island's three New York City Council members are Republicans.

In national elections Staten Island is not the Republican stronghold it is in local elections, but it is also not the Democratic stronghold the rest of New York City is. The borough is a Republican-leaning swing county.

Each of the city's five counties (coterminous with each borough) has its own criminal court system and District Attorney, the chief public prosecutor who is directly elected by popular vote. Daniel Donovan, a Republican, has been the District Attorney of Richmond County since 2004, and was the Republican nominee for New York Attorney General in 2010. Staten Island has three City Council members, two Republicans and one Democrat, the smallest number among the five boroughs.

It also has three administrative districts, each served by a local Community Board. Community Boards are representative bodies that field complaints and serve as advocates for local residents. In the 2009 election for city offices, Staten Island elected its first black official, Debi Rose, who defeated the incumbent Democrat in the North Shore city council seat in a primary, and then went on to win the general election.

Staten Island has voted for a Democratic presidential nominee only four times since 1952: in 1964, 1996, 2000, and 2012. In the 2004 presidential election Republican George W. Bush received 56% of the vote in Staten Island and Democrat John Kerry received 43%. By contrast, Kerry outpolled Bush in New York City's other four boroughs by a cumulative margin of 77% to 22%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain won 52% of the vote in the borough to Democrat Barack Obama's 48%. In 2012, the borough flipped and was won by incumbent Democrat Barack Obama, who took 51% of the vote to Republican Mitt Romney's 48%. This made it the fourth time since 1952 that Democrats have carried Staten Island, and made the borough one of the few parts of the country where Barack Obama gained an advantage compared to 2008.[65]

Staten Island lies entirely within New York's 11th congressional district, which also includes part of southwestern Brooklyn. It is represented by Republican Michael Grimm, elected in 2010.

Staten Island flag[edit]

The flag is on a white background in the center of which is the design of a seal in the shape of an oval. Within the seal appears the color blue to symbolize the skyline of the borough, in which two seagulls appear colored in black and white. The green outline represents the countryside of the borough with white outline denoting the residential areas of Staten Island. Below is inscribed the words "Staten Island" in gold. Below this are five wavy lines of blue to symbolize the water that surrounds the island borough on all sides. Gold fringe outlines the flag.[66]

Politics[edit]

Staten Island politics differ considerably from the rest of the city, being far friendlier to the Republicans than other boroughs, although Democrats have a substantial majority in registration. According to the New York State Board of Elections, as of April 1, 2005, there were 119,601 registered Democrats in Staten Island versus only 82,193 registered Republicans.

Party affiliation of Staten Island registered voters
Party 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
Democratic (%) 44.70 44.76 45.19 45.39 45.63 45.47 45.51 45.60 46.38 46.15
Republican (%) 30.64 30.47 30.77 30.55 30.68 30.76 31.17 31.60 30.80 31.28
No affiliation (%) 19.00 19.10 18.46 18.54 18.67 18.84 18.67 18.25 18.43 18.48
Other (%) 5.66 5.67 5.58 5.52 5.02 4.93 4.65 4.55 4.39 4.09

Local politics[edit]

Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, Staten Island has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a "strong" Mayor-council government. The centralized New York City government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, police, fire, recreational facilities, sanitation, transportation, water supply, and welfare services in Staten Island. The Borough has three appointed Community Boards with advisory and limited administrative powers.

Staten Island representation in the state assembly has 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans. The 60th district [1] is represented by Republican Nicole Malliotakis, and the 62nd [2], which encompasses most of the south shore of the island, by Joseph Borelli. But both the 61st [3] and 63rd [4] districts have elected Democrats, Matthew Titone and Michael J. Cusick. Staten Island is split between two State Senate Districts. Most of the island used to be represented by Republican John J. Marchi [5], the longest-serving legislator in state history; but is now represented by Republican Andrew Lanza; while the North Shore belongs to the Brooklyn-based district of Democrat Diane Savino [6].

National politics[edit]

In national elections, Staten Island is not the Republican stronghold it is in local elections. However, it is not a Democratic stronghold like the rest of the city. It can be considered as a swing county with a slight Republican lean, though it seemed to become increasingly Democratic in the 1990s, like Long Island and Westchester County.

The island has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee only four times since 1952 — in 1964, 1996, 2000 and 2012. In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush received 57% of the island's votes to 42% for John Kerry; by contrast, Kerry outpolled Bush in the city's other four boroughs cumulatively by a margin of 77% to 22%.

Staten Island is currently in the 11th Congressional District, formerly the 13th Congressional District, which also includes part of Brooklyn. It has been held by the GOP from 1981 until 2009 when Democrat Michael McMahon won the seat. It was previously held by Vito Fossella, an outspoken conservative. Michael Grimm, a Republican, won back the seat for the GOP in 2010. The seat has always been targeted by Democrats, but Fossella always won with little trouble until 2004, when he lost the Brooklyn portion of the district by seven points. However, he won Staten Island by 26 points, undoubtedly helped by Bush's win in the borough. Before Fossella, Staten Island was represented by Susan Molinari, a moderate Republican who made the keynote speech at the 1996 Republican National Convention. Her father, Guy, held the seat from 1981 to 1990, when he was elected borough president.

The United States Postal Service operates post offices in Staten Island. The Staten Island Main Post Office is located at 550 Manor Road.[67][68]

Demographics[edit]

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. 2013 472,621 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[69]
2013 Estimate[1]

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,[70] 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.[71]

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.[72]

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

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. 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.[73][74] The borough is also home to a Chinanteco-speaking Mexican American community.[75]

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.[76]

The median income for a household is $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[edit]

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.[77]

Tourism[edit]

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 190.5 m (625 ft)[78][79][80] New York Wheel, which could become the world's tallest Ferris wheel, is to be constructed in the St. George neighbourhood, alongside the planned Harbor Commons retail complex.[78] First reported in June 2012 and officially announced by mayor Michael Bloomberg in September 2012,[79] construction was originally expected to begin early in 2014.[81][82] Completion was originally expected to be in 2015,[80][82] but this has since been put back several times. In April 2013 it was reported to be 4 July 2016.[83][84]

Culture[edit]

Local support for the arts[edit]

"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.[5][85][86] Filmmakers, most of whom work independently, also play an important part on 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.[87] 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[edit]

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.[citation needed] In the late 1960s, the Zoo maintained the most complete rattlesnake collection in the world with 39 varieties.

Media and entertainment[edit]

Film[edit]

Movies filmed partially or wholly on Staten Island include:

Literature[edit]

American Wildflower, a novel about life on Staten Island in the 1970s was written by Bobby Clark, who was born on the island and lived there for 40 years.

Ki Longfellow was born on the island. Longfellow is the author of The Secret Magdalene and other books.

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.[88]

Music[edit]

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.

Periodicals[edit]

Television[edit]

Theater[edit]

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.[90]

Museums[edit]

Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Alice Austen House Museum, the Conference House, the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, Historic Richmond Town, Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, the Noble Maritime Collection, Sandy Ground Historical Museum,[91] 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 is currently untertaking a major fundraising project and hopes to open in 2012, and the Staten Island Museum (art, science, and history) plans to open a new branch in Snug Harbor by 2014.


Sports[edit]

Education[edit]

Public schools[edit]

Education in Staten Island is provided by a number of public and private institutions. Public schools in the borough are managed by the New York City Department of Education, the largest public school system in the United States.

Public middle schools include Intermediate Schools 2, 7, 14, 16, 21, 24, 27, 32, 34, 35, 42, 46, 49, 51, 61, 63, 72 and 75, and 861, a K to 8 school as well as part of the Petrides School (which runs from kindergarten to High School)

Public high schools include:

Private schools[edit]

  • Staten Island Academy is the only independent private (non-public, non-religious) grade school on the island and is one of the oldest in the entire country.

Non-denominational - Christian

  • Gateway Academy

Catholic

Moore Catholic and St. Joseph by the Sea are the only co-educational Catholic high schools on the island.

Islamic

Colleges and universities[edit]

Transportation[edit]

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 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.

Unlike the other four boroughs of New York, 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 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.

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 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.

The only pedestrian link to Staten Island is via a footpath on the Bayonne Bridge.

Staten Island is the most auto-centric borough in New York City, with only 18.4% of all households being autoless. Citywide, the rate is 55%.[96]

Public transportation on the island is limited to:

  • NYC Department of Transportation (Staten Island Ferry)
  • NYC Transit buses (local service on Staten Island and express service to Manhattan)
  • Staten Island Railway service from St. George to Tottenville

Ferry[edit]

The Staten Island Ferry is the only direct transportation network from Staten Island to Manhattan, roughly a 25 minute trip.[97] 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. Currently, the Staten Island Ferry is undergoing ramp renovations that are speculated to be complete in 2014. The Staten Island Ferry holds over 60,000 passengers per day. The ferry makes the 25 minute trip across New York Harbor 109 times every weekday, while utilizing five boats, and 75 times on Saturdays and 68 times every Sunday, using a three boat fleet.[citation needed]

Trains[edit]

The Staten Island Railway operates along the Richmond/Amboy Roads corridor.

Passenger service[edit]

The Staten Island Railway traverses the island from its northeastern tip to its southwestern tip. The Staten Island Railway was built in 1871 and was owned and operated by 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 serviced 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.

Staten Island Rapid Transit Police Patch

Abandoned rights of way[edit]

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 (B&O) Railroad which utilized the line for passenger service until March 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. There is also a proposal to build a West Shore Line 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. (See Staten Island light rail). The South Beach Branch, which took summer vacationers to South Beach, Staten Island, also ceased service in March 1953.[98]

Freight service[edit]

CSX operates a class I short line freight rail service with a 38 acres (15 ha) intermodel 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 intermodel 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 emergencies along the freight line.

Buses[edit]

NYC Transit 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.

Two lines (the S53/93 and S79) provide local/limited service over the Verazzano Bridge to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The S79 is the first Select Bus Service route in the borough, although it does not feature off-board fare payment characteristic of other +SBS+ lines.

Express bus service to Manhattan via the Verrazano Bridge and BQE is also available for a $6.00 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. See here: http://www.mta.info/mta/2012_13_investment.html

Beginning September 4, 2007, the MTA began offering bus service from Staten Island to Bayonne, New Jersey over the Bayonne Bridge via the S89 bus. It allows passengers to connect to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail's 34th St. 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.

Infrastructure[edit]

Hospitals[edit]

Staten Island is the only borough without a hospital operated by New York City.

Jails[edit]

Staten Island 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 in-house holding jails for post arrest detention prior to transfer to a corrections jail in another borough.

In the early years of Staten Island, the Staten Island county sheriff operated a jail system on Staten Island until January 1, 1942 when the Staten Island jail system was transferred from the county sheriffs department to the City Of New York Department Of Corrections and eventually closed. In 1976, the New York State Department of Correctional Services opened the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility of Staten Island, but the facility was closed in 2011.

Notable natives and residents[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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  78. ^ a b St. George Waterfront | NYCEDC | North Site Conceptual Rendering - View towards Manhattan from Elevated Open Space
  79. ^ a b Bloomberg announces plan for record-breaking ferris wheel
  80. ^ a b World's tallest observation wheel to tower over New York
  81. ^ The New York Wheel is coming to Staten Island
  82. ^ a b World’s Biggest Ferris Wheel to Anchor Staten Island Complex
  83. ^ Wheeler-dealer SI Ferris lawsuit
  84. ^ Staten Island outlet mall planned near New York Wheel to include Nike, Adidas, Coach
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  93. ^ "Pred History". New York Predators. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  94. ^ Morris, Ira K. (1900). Morris's memorial history of Staten Island 2. Staten Island, NY: Memorial Pub. Co. p. 483. Retrieved October 20, 2009. "The Staten Island Cricket and Base Ball Club, had its grounds for many years at Camp Washington, or what may now be the ferry terminal. It was incorporated in 1866." 
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  98. ^ Forgotten New York: Staten Island railway http://forgotten-ny.com/1999/07/staten-island-railway/

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century
  • John Louis Sublett (2009), "Richmond County", Staten Island: A Walk Down Memory Lane (1st ed.), NY: CreateSpace 

External links[edit]