About St. George, Staten Island
St. George is located on the northeastern-most part of Staten Island. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Tompkinsville and New Brighton. One of the most well-known naturalists who have resided on Staten Island lived here. In 1862, William T. Davis was born in his grandfather's home in St. George. In 1930, he and coauthor Charles W. Leng wrote Staten Island and Its People, which chronicled the history of Staten Island. In here, the origin of St. George's name is revealed.
During the 1800's, Erastus Wiman, a businessman, had the idea of erecting one ferry terminal for all of the ferries that ran from Staten Island, on a point closest to Manhattan. This point was owned by George Law, an engineer. Law did not want to give up his land; however, he was swayed when Wiman told him he would have the neighborhood named after him.
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Erastus Wiman felt that he needed more in order to get the residents of nearby boroughs to use his transportation facilities. He came up with the idea of the Staten Island Amusement Company, which was situated in the neighborhood. A three-story casino and illuminated fountain were constructed on the site. Various sports were also played here. To illuminate the amusement park, Erastus Wiman had a private power plant installed. Once the amusement park went out of business, the electric generators were sold to the Edison Electric Illuminating Company. With this, the company began to provide the streets of Staten Island with lighting.
The ferry terminal was built at St. George in 1886, replacing the service to Stapleton. In 1905, a new ferry terminal was built with better facilities. This building was destroyed by a fire in 1946. Five years later, it was replaced with a fire-proof building. Taking the ferry to or from Manhattan does not cost you anything and takes less than half an hour to get from one point to the other. The St. George Terminal of the Staten Island Railway is located inside the building. It makes twenty two stops all the way from the ferry terminal to Tottenville.
The ferry terminal is also the center for many local buses in Staten Island. There are four ramps which lead to a few buses. At Ramp A, you can take the s61 to the Staten Island Mall, the s62 to Travis, or the s66 to Port Richmond. These all travel along Victory Boulevard. Ramp B leads to the s51, which takes Bay Street to Grant City; the s74, which takes Richmond Road to the Bricktown Mall; and the s76, which goes to Oakwood and also takes Richmond Road. Ramp C leads to the s42, the s46, and the s48 buses. The s42 is a short trip and takes you to the nearby Clyde Place, while the s46 takes Castleton Avenue to West Shore Plaza and the s48 takes Forest Avenue to Mariners Harbor. The last ramp, Ramp D, consists of the s40, which takes Richmond Terrace to Goethals Road North; the s44, which takes Richmond Avenue to the Staten Island Mall; the s52, which travels along Tompkins Avenue to get to Staten Island University Hospital; and the s78, which travels to the Bricktown Mall in Charleston via Hylan Boulevard.
During the 1830's, many people would meet in a gun factory weekly, which was located on Lafayette Street and Richmond Terrace, to celebrate Mass. When the factory came to be unfit for the service, plans for a church were made. The meetings at the gun factory would continue until 1844, when a new church, St. Peter's Church, was opened on Carroll Place. The church was destroyed by a fire during the 1890s, and by 1900 a new church began to be constructed. The construction of this new church, with its entrance on St. Mark's Place, was completed by 1903. St. Peter's is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Staten Island and the church of the early 1900's still stands to this day.
In 1881, the National Science Association of Staten Island was opened at 75 Stuyvesant Place. It was founded by William T. Davis, of whom we spoke earlier, and several others. The building was once known as The Institute of Arts and Sciences, but has more recently been referred to as the Staten Island Museum, which is what it has been used as since its opening.
In 1898, Staten Island consolidated with the four other boroughs to make up the City of Greater New York. With this, a new civic center for Staten Island was planned. Among the many buildings planned, only two were erected. Between 1904 and 1906, Borough Hall was constructed across from the ferry at 10 Richmond Terrace. This building is home to the Borough President's office, the Department of Transportation office, and more. The Staten Island Supreme Courthouse, which has gone by many other names in the past, was constructed from 1913-1919 at 18 Richmond Terrace. Both Borough Hall and the Staten Island Supreme Courthouse have been designated New York City Landmarks.
During the mid-1900's, a house had been willed to the Institute of Arts and Sciences. In 1960, the house was demolished. The Museum felt they had no use for the land, so community groups began to clear the land so their children could have a play area. By 1969, the area between St. Mark's Place and Belmont Place on Wall Street was purchased from the Museum by the City. With its creation at that time and its reconstruction in 1991, the park now has a playground, benches, and game tables. It was named for Lieutenant Nicholas Lia, who had lived by the area of the park and was killed while in Vietnam.
In 1928, the St. George Theatre opened to the public at 25 Hyatt Street. Throughout the years, the building had been sold many times and was transformed into a building for various activities. During the 1990's, the building was abandoned, as none of the ventures started there could financially succeed. Eventually, the building was threatened to be torn down. In 2004, however, a non-for-profit organization was created in 2004 to save the building, in which the creator of the organization donated a large sum of money. That same year, building was finally restored to the theatre it once was and is in use today.
There are several schools in the area of St. George. Most students will attend either P.S. 16 at 80 Monroe Avenue or P.S. 31 at 55 Layton Avenue, and then go on to I.S. 61 at 445 Castleton Avenue. There are two outstanding high schools in St. George, which occupy the land where mansions had once been. Curtis High School was built in 1904 and is the oldest high school on Staten Island. It is located at 105 Hamilton Avenue and was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1982. McKee Vocational and Technical High School is located at 290 St. Mark's Place. The school has programs for career training in various computer-related subjects. In addition, there are a few private schools in the area. You have the Roman Catholic Our Lady of Good Counsel at 42 Austen Place, Trinity Lutheran School at 309 St. Paul's Avenue, St. Peter's Roman Catholic Girls High School at 300 Richmond Terrace, and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Boys High School at 200 Castleton Avenue.
Leib Puretz is a well-known developer of Staten Island's buildings. Most of his buildings can be seen in St. George. Included are the waterfront condominiums; The Pearl, on Bay Street; The Pointe, at Victory Boulevard and Bay Street; and The View at Richmond Terrace and Hamilton Avenue. Each of the condominiums are within walking distance from the ferry and offer views of the Manhattan skyline and the Verrazano Bridge.
On April 10, 2008, a proposal for a St. George Special District was presented by the Department of City Planning. This proposal would change the zoning laws of the selected area in St. George, especially in the waterfront area. In commercial areas, park would decrease for retail development. On the other hand, parking would increase in residential areas for new residents. These parking lots, however, would not be allowed to face commercial streets. Buildings in the commercial area would be prohibited from not have windows on the ground floor. The regulations at the time allowed for building bases as low as one-story. This would be changed so that certain streets and areas would have certain base heights. This proposal, which was presented to encourage people to want to live in St. George, was accepted on October 23, 2008.