Staten Island, New York occupies 59 square miles at the far southern border of New York City, making it the smallest of the five boroughs. Separated from the rest of NYC by water, Staten Island remained sparsely populated for almost two centuries. In 1964, the completion of the Verazzano’s Narrows Bridge connected Staten Island to Brooklyn, lying half a mile away. By 1970, the island’s population doubled, with the Census 2000 data showing over 443,000 citizens.
Staten Island now has several transportation routes. The Arthur Kill Greenway connects to New Jersey. The Staten Island Ferry offers a scenic 25-minute ride to the glittering lights of commercial Manhattan, through New York Harbor and past the Statue of Liberty.
Also known as Richmond County, Staten Island residents claim a history of protest and struggle with the New York City government. When plans for the extensive Richmond Parkway (also known as Korean Veteran’s Parkway) began, it originally cut directly through pristine hillsides and ecologically important wetlands. Due to citizen’s protests, the parkway today extends through the enchanting Staten Island Greenbelt, skirting around the unspoiled natural beauty of the center of the island. The greenbelt encircles 2,800 acres of parkland and sanctuary, one of the largest natural areas remaining to New York residents. Located here is the Davis Wildlife Refuge, the first of its kind in NYC and home to one of the first Audubon Centers.
Staten Island citizens didn’t win their battle to keep New York City from using the western portion of their land from becoming a refuse dump, even after several attempts to secede from New York. The Fresh Kills Landfill, begun in 1948, became one of the largest garbage sites known to man. In 2001, its height exceeded that of the Statue of Liberty. The EPA finally closed the landfill that year, but after the horrific World Trade Center attacks, the city reopened it to take in the debris. Plans began in 2003 to reclaim the landfill and create a landscaped park. Staten Island was one of the most devastated of New York’s communities, losing almost 270 citizens to the terrorist attack. The Staten Island September 11th Memorial honors the lives lost on that tragic day.
Staten Island, NY contains many historical sites, some dating back to the Revolutionary War. The Conference House was the site of a 1776 peace conference, ending with presentation to the British of the Declaration of Independence. The site of one of the oldest military bases in the United States is Ft. Wadsworth. The Sandy Ground Historical Museum pays tribute to the first community of freed slaves in America. The Snug Harbor Cultural Center entices history buffs to visit their 26 carefully preserved historic buildings from the past.
Staten Island holds many cultural activities. The College of Staten Island contains the CSI Center for the Arts, with five separate theaters in one campus. Performed here are ballet, opera, orchestral music and a large variety of live theater. Lovely Downtown Staten Island contains the historic, beautifully restored St. George Theater, which originally opened its doors in 1929. The Staten Island Zoo and the Staten Island Botanical Gardens offer visitors unique viewings of rare animal and plant life.
Staten Island, New York remains one of the more urban of NYC’s boroughs. The determined and proud citizens work hard to protect and reclaim the natural beauty of their island home. With beaches, fishing piers, inland ponds and lakes, and an extraordinary amount of land preserved as parks, Staten Island offers its citizens a unique place to live within the boundaries of New York City.