Staten Island Neighborhood Profile: Sunnyside
The neighborhood of Sunnyside is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Silver Lake, Grymes Hill, Emerson Hill, Castleton Corners, and Royal Oak. The neighborhood basically sits in the valley between Todt Hill to its southwest and Emerson Hill to its northeast. Sunnyside's proximity; just being about one and three-quarter miles to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, gives this area a strategic advantage as far as commute times to Brooklyn and Manhattan. Its current name is derived from a roadhouse named the "Sunnyside Roadhouse" which sat at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Clove Road.
Before it was called Sunnyside, it was known as Clovenia. "Clove" is an Anglicization of "kloven", a Dutch word which referred to the cleft of Clove Valley. The "Sunnyside Roadhouse" was given its name because its location put the establishment outside the morning shadow of Grymes Hill and Todt Hill, which towered over the valley neighborhood. Today, a restaurant took over the name of this establishment, and operates under the name "the Roadhouse," which is located on Clove Road, in Sunnyside.
Like several other neighborhoods in Staten Island, Sunnyside has a rich history with the prominent Vanderbilt Family. During the mid-17th century, the great-grandfather of well-known philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt settled in New York, which was then known as New Netherland. Since his arrival, the philanthropic Vanderbilt's have all been well-known for their businesses as well as their contributions to charities in the borough, and the probability of the family being famous was even greater since Cornelius had thirteen children. Cornelius' son William Henry Vanderbilt, for example, was once the head of the Staten Island Railway, which had taken over several stagecoach routes in 1895. Cornelius' great-grandson Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, on the other hand, was a successful yacht racer.
A few homes of Vanderbilt descendants have been designated as landmarks in Sunnyside, as well as in the other Staten Island neighborhoods. In 1836, the John King Vanderbilt House was built at 1197 Clove Road. The Vanderbilt's often preferred to live by their relatives, so in the early 1890's, a house was built for John Frederick Smith, whose grandmother was the stepdaughter of John King Vanderbilt. This house, which is located at 1213 Clove Road, became the lifelong home of Smith's daughter, Dorothy Valentine Smith, who was a Staten Island historian.
The location was also known for the "Swedish Home for the Aged" a sprawling campus, which was the former home of Cornelius Vanderbilt's daughter Alitia. The home was purchased in 1912 by United Swedish Societies of New York, to house elderly Swedish Immigrants in order to house the vast number of New York City Swedish Immigrants. Attempts to save the former Vanderbilt residence under NYC Landmark Commission failed. Subsequently, the home was demolished in 2009 to make way for modern senior housing.
Sunnyside was once home to the Richmond County Country Club. In 1888, it was located at Little Clove Road and Ocean Terrace. However, it was moved in 1894 to Flagg Place in Todt Hill. Another establishment which was once located in Sunnyside was the private institution of Sunnyside Hospital. Sunnyside Hospital opened in 1940 and was located on Little Clove Road. In 1962, the institution had to be relocated, as the site of the hospital was in the way of the Staten Island Expressway. One year later, Doctor's Hospital opened in Concord, replacing Sunnyside Hospital.
Clove Lakes Park, which also got its name from the Dutch, is located in Sunnyside. Surrounded by Slosson Avenue, Victory Boulevard and Clove Road, the land for the park was acquired by the City of New York in 1923. It is perhaps the most well-known park on the Island, as many events are held there. Just as well, there are three baseball fields, a basketball court, two areas for dog runs, a fishing and paddleboat area, a football field, a hiking trail, a 650-yard fitness path, two playgrounds, a soccer field, and an ice skating rink. Clove Lakes Park also has its own restaurant, the Lake Club, which is located at 1150 Clove Road.
Today Sunnyside, Staten Island is made up of a mix of affordable housing alternatives, from town homes to sprawling ranches and even some new construction homes, including semi-detached homes. Some streets in the neighborhood include Tioga St., Northern Boulevard, Oneonta St., Little Clove Rd., Cypress Ave.and Labau Ave. to name a few. Labau Ave.was named after the family of Alitia Vanderbilt's husband L. B. La Bau. However, the two-part name was shrunk down to just Labau when it came to naming the street.
Each Sunnyside street has varying ages of housing. On the south western side and northern side older homes like 1920-40s Colonials and Cape Cod style are more prominent. The area is basically an extension of the housing seen in neighboring Castleton Corners, and extends northbound between Northern Blvd. and Victory Blvd. More modern style and new construction homes are located on its south and east sides.
There are several schools in and around Sunnyside. The public schools are P.S. 29, at 1581 Victory Boulevard, and P.S. 35, at 60 Foote Avenue. Then, there is I.S. 49, at 101 Warren Street. There are several Private schools which educatechildren from kindergarten through the eighth grade. They include St. Rita School, at 30 Wellbrooke Avenue; St. John's Lutheran School, at 663 Manor Road; and St. Teresa's School, at 1632 Victory Boulevard. The Staten Island Academy, at 715 Todt Hill, and the Michael J. Petrides School, at 715 Ocean Terrace, both educate students from kindergarten to the twelfth grade. Wagner College, on Campus Road, is also not too far away.
There are several local and express buses which make stops in the neighborhood of Sunnyside. The s61, s62, s66, and s93 travel along Victory Boulevard. Respectively, they go to St. George and the Staten Island mall; St. Georgeand Travis; St. George and Port Richmond; and the College of Staten Island and Bay Ridge. The s53 also makes a stop in Sunnyside, traveling along Clove Road to get to Port Richmond or Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The x14 comes from Port Richmond to go into West Midtown, via Clove Road, while the x30 travels from Sunnyside into Midtown Manhattan, via Forest Avenue. The x14 takes the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, while the x30 takes the Goethals Bridge. (Photo left, Little Clove Rd. Staten Island)