Grymes Hill, Staten Island

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Grymes Hill is a neighborhood, situated upon a hill by that name, in Staten Island, New York City. It encompasses an area of 0.894 square miles and a population of 8,263 people. The neighborhood includes part of zip codes 10301 and 10304.


The hill is named after Suzette Grymes, the widow of the first governor of Louisiana, William Charles Cole Claiborne, who settled on Staten Island in 1836 (she had remarried a prominent New Orleans lawyer, John R. Grymes, after Governor Claiborne died in 1817).[1]


Neighborhoods around Grymes Hill include Ward Hill to the north, Silver Lake to the west, Sunnyside and Emerson Hill to the south, to the southeast is Concord, and Stapleton and Stapleton Heights to the east. The east side of the hill is defined by Van Duzer Street and Richmond Road to the intersection with the Staten Island Expressway, which, with Clove Road, defines the southern side. On the west is Victory Boulevard. Some claim Cebra Avenue for the northern border, while others believe that the border is Louis Street.


Grymes Hill, which has views of Lower New York Bay and the Narrows,[1] is the second highest point on Staten Island, reaching its greatest elevation of 310 feet (94 m) above sea level at a point on the Wagner College property behind a parking lot and near the football field. Hero Park, 3 acres (12,000 m2) in size, is located at the intersection of Victory Boulevard and Louis Street, abutting the Notre Dame Academy property. The areas hillsides and trees are protected by the Hillside Preservation Zoning District which went into effect in 1987.[2] The Serpentine Art and Nature Commons ("SANC") owns and maintains several trails on preservation land.[3]

Starting in the mid-19th century, breweries dug caves into the hill to use in the production of beer.[4] Some of these caves off of Van Duzer Street were later incorporated into a popular restaurant, which provided catering for the movie The Godfather during shooting on Staten Island.[5] The restaurant has since closed, and the entire site was redeveloped with a townhouse complex.


Grymes Hill was carved by a receding glacier. The serpentine or soapstone area extends from New Brighton to Richmond, and includes the hill country of the island. In places where glacial erosion was limited the stone weathered into a soft, yellowish, fractured condition to which the name "soapstone" is applied, but where the weathered stone was eroded the rock is hard and dense in texture and dark green in color.[6] The rock's green, yellow or brown colors are often mottled with red.[7]


The area was originally named Signal Hill after a British signal station.[7] Deeds of 1836 and thereabout show that the hill was known as Castleton Heights. Grymes Hill was part of a land grant in 1687 to Thomas Dongan, who served as Governor of the Province of New York.[8] Between the years 1830 and 1833 a local developer, Major George Howard, purchased 42 acres, which included all land between Eddy and Louis streets. Major Howard built many of the hill's earliest homes, and his name survives in Howard Avenue, the hill's main street; a portion of this street was known for a time as Serpentine Road due to the hill's bedrock consisting of serpentinite.[6]


The median household income was $69,452 in 2016.[9] Furthermore, it is ranked the 4th safest neighborhood in New York City out of 229 according to Niche. Howard Avenue on Grymes Hill is considered one of the most exclusive and most expensive areas of Staten Island.[10][11][12]

Housing stock[edit]

Most homes in the neighborhood are private residences, many of which were constructed for Manhattan businessmen. The neighborhood has many fine homes dating from the 1920s that overlook New York Harbor.

Real estate developer Fred Trump constructed several hundred two- and three-bedroom residences in the late 1940s.[2] These are 423 garden apartments along Howard Avenue and Arlo Road. Fred Trump's son, the developer and later U.S. president Donald Trump, sold these apartments to an unrelated corporation in 2007. Grymes Hill Manor Estates was built in 1953 as rental garden apartments, and switched to co-op status in 1983. It has 152 apartments centering on Seth Court, with some on other streets. Two high rise apartment buildings at the foot of Howard Avenue converted to condominiums following a major fire in one. There are several apartment buildings on Victory Boulevard. Two new apartment buildings have been constructed facing the Staten Island Expressway. One was turned into condominiums in 2004. The other is being offered as senior citizen housing.

Green spaces[edit]

The only public park on Grymes Hill is Hero Park,[13] a 2-acre park donated in 1920 by Dr. and Mrs. Louis A. Dreyfus.[2] However, Grymes Hill residents are within walking distance of the sprawling Silver Lake Park, whose facilities include a running path, a golf course, and several public tennis courts. The neighborhood also borders Clove Lakes Park, with ponds, baseball fields, and a row-boating house among its amenities.

Grymes Hill includes two cemeteries, both located along Victory Boulevard. Woodland Cemetery dates back to the nineteenth century, and some headstones are in German, reflecting the population of the day. Silver Lake Cemetery also dates back to the nineteenth century, and was the original burial site for the Hebrew Free Burial Association.


Grymes Hill is the home of two institutions of higher learning: Wagner College, and the Staten Island campus of St. John's University. The St. John's campus of 16.5 acres (67,000 m2) was originally a small Catholic women's institution, Notre Dame College, which closed in 1971, when St. John's University took over the campus. Also on the hill is Notre Dame Academy, a Roman Catholic elementary and high school for girls which received an overall A Grade by Niche. [14]

Adjacent to (and owned by) Wagner College is the site of a former Roman Catholic high school, named Augustinian Academy after the order of monks who ran it; the school closed in 1969. Near the foot of the hill, on Foote Avenue, is P.S. 35, the Clove Valley School, a K-5 school which is ranked 10 out of 10 by and received an overall A Grade by Niche.[15][16] Also located on Grymes Hill is Casa Belvedere, a center for Italian culture and studies in Italian language and culture which is located in the Louis A. and Laura Stirn House which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, and designated a NYC Landmark in 2001 [17][18]


Grymes Hill is served by the S53, S61, S62, S66, S91 and S92 local and limited buses. The SIM30 and SIM35 express buses provide rush-hour service to and from Manhattan.[19]

Notable past residents[edit]

  • Governor Thomas Dongan (1634-1715) in 1687 was granted a 5,100-acre manor, of which Grymes Hill was a portion.[8]
  • Oroondates Mauran (1791-1846), a merchant of New York, who in subsequent years became the owner of the first Italian Opera House, purchased his Grymes Hill home in 1831. In winter he lived in Manhattan and in the summer on Staten Island. Furthermore, together with Cornelius Vanderbilt he owned the Staten Island Ferry. He was also one of the oldest members of the Union Club of the City of New York.[20]
  • Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825), an American politician and the sixth vice president of the United States. In 1815, he established a settlement along the eastern shore of the island with the purchase of the Van Buskirk Farm in New Brighton, and property on Grymes Hill. His main residence was located on Fort Hill, near Fort Place which burned down in 1874.[21]
  • John Randolph Grymes (1786-1854), a noted New Orleans lawyer, whose wife Madame Suzette Grymes, bought land at Howard Avenue and Grymes Hill Road in 1836.[8]
  • Capt. Jacob Vanderbilt, brother of Cornelius Vanderbilt built a mansion on Grymes Hill.[22]
  • John Nesmith (1793-1869), an American politician who served as the 25th Lieutenant Governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1862. Between 1836 and 1865 the Nesmith family purchased a large tract from 24 separate property owners.[23]
  • Sir Edward Cunard (1816-1869) of the shipping and passenger line family built his mansion circa 1851. The 38-acre Grymes Hill family estate was named "Bellevue" and was built in the Italianate style. Cunard chose the land for its ocean view.[8]
  • Albert Brisbane (1809-1890), an American utopian socialist and popularized the theories of Charles Fourier. He was one of two sons born to James Brisbane, a wealthy landowner. His house was erected in 1854.[23]
  • Civil War general William Greene Ward (1832-1901) also built a mansion in 1865.[7]
  • John J. Cisco (1806-1884), a merchant in the dry goods business in New York, who retired at the age of thirty-six with a fortune. Some eleven years later, in 1853, he was appointed by President Pierce, Assistant Treasurer of the United States, and placed in charge of the Sub-Treasury in New York. He purchase the house erected in 1855 by Ernest Cazet, under the superintendence of Frederick Law Olmsted, the noted landscape architect.[24]
  • William Horrmann, owner of Stapleton's Rubsam & Horrman Brewing Company,[25] built Horrmann Castle at 189 Howard Avenue in 1910. The building was torn down in 1968.[8]
  • Louis A. Stirn, a silk importer built his home in 1908 at 77 Howard Avenue. In 2006, the Stirn mansion became a New York City Landmark and is now called Casa Belvedere.[26]
  • John Gans, a steamship-company owner, built his family estate on the hill because it overlooked the New York Harbor where he operated his steamship company. St. John's University's Flynn Hall is the former home of John Gans.[27][28]
  • Louis A. Dreyfus, a local maker of chewing gum, built his former estate on what it is today part of the 13 acres Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls Catholic elementary and high school.[27]
  • Charles Wallace Hunt (1841-1911), an American mechanical engineer, inventor and business executive, known as President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He invented new methods in the storing and handling of coal. He purchased his residence on Grymes Hill in 1900.
  • William Butler Duncan (1830-1912), a New York banker in 1858 purchased a 20 acres property from Madame
  • Mamie Fish (1853-1915), New York Socialite and one of the so-called Triumvirate of American Gilded Age society
  • George H. Kendall (c.1854–1924) was the president of the New York Bank Note Company, that printed stock certificates. He was also an art collector. He moved to Grymes Hill in 1896.
  • Colin Jost (1982- ), comedic actor, writer and Weekend Update host for Saturday Night Live.


  1. ^ a b Wilson, Claire (July 9, 2006). "Developed Enough as It Is, Thanks". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Cheslow, Jerry (October 1, 1989). "If You're Thinking of Living in: Grymes Hill". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  3. ^ Commons, Serpentine Art and Nature. "A NYC Parkland, Serpentine Art & Nature Commons".
  4. ^ Salmon, Patricia (December 16, 2012). "Staten Island Memories: The business of brewing". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  5. ^ Staten Island 350th Anniversary Committee (2011). Discovering Staten Island: A 350th Anniversary Commemorative History. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-60949-170-3. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Hine, Charles Gilbert (1914). History and legend of Howard Avenue and the Serpentine Road, Grymes Hill, Staten Island. New York: Hine Brothers. pp. 6, 67. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c "If You're Thinking of Living In/Grymes Hill; Respect for History And Great Views". The New York Times. December 18, 1994.
  8. ^ a b c d e "13 things to know about historic Grymes Hill on Staten Island's North Shore".
  9. ^ "Grymes Hill neighborhood in Staten Island, New York (NY), 10304, 10301 subdivision profile - real estate, apartments, condos, homes, community, population, jobs, income, streets".
  10. ^ "Staten Island's most expensive home on sale for $6.3M".
  11. ^ "The 25 most expensive homes for sale on Staten Island (map/photos)".
  12. ^ "The most expensive homes ever sold in Staten Island, New York".
  13. ^ "Hero Park Map : NYC Parks".
  14. ^ "Explore Notre Dame Academy High School". Niche.
  15. ^ "Explore Ps 35 The Clove Valley School in Staten Island, NY".
  16. ^ "Explore P.S. 35 - The Clove Valley School". Niche.
  17. ^ "Stirn House" (PDF). Landmarks Preservation Commission. January 30, 2001. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  18. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 1/18/11 through 1/21/11. National Park Service. January 28, 2011.
  19. ^ "Staten Island Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. August 2018. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  20. ^ Stockbridge, John Calvin (January 1, 1893). "Memorials of the Mauran Family". Snow & Farnham, printers – via Google Books.
  21. ^ {{cite url=
  23. ^ a b "History and Legend of Howard Avenue and the Serpentine Road, Grymes Hill, Staten Island" (PDF). Hine's Annual, 1914. March 30, 2004. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  24. ^ Bayles, Richard Mather (January 1, 1887). "History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York: From Its Discovery to the Present Time". L.E. Preston – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "A long-gone brewery in Staten Island". March 17, 2010.
  26. ^ "Casa Belvedere - New York City's Premier Italian Cultural Campus".
  27. ^ a b Hughes, C. J. (July 6, 2016). "Grymes Hill: Manhattan Views, West Coast Feel" – via
  28. ^ "Campus History - St. John's University".

Coordinates: 40°37′08″N 74°05′37″W / 40.61889°N 74.09361°W / 40.61889; -74.09361