Staten Island History

A look back at history across Staten Island and New York City. Get fast facts about Staten Island, and the events that shaped what the borough is today.

Found 34 blog entries about Staten Island History.

When telling people you live in Staten Island, responses are usually unsure about what that means. The author of the Game of Thrones novels, George R.R. Martin, grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, pondering that same question. He later imagines that Staten Island is to be what we know today as the fictional land Westeros. While Staten Island is lacking dragons, magic, and battles to the iron throne, there are things about this fifth borough that does make it unique.

The island was first inhabited by the Lenape Indians in the 16th Century. The Indians referred to the island as "Aquehonga" and "Monaco", which both translate as 'Enchanted Woods".  This name stands true as today, Staten Island is the greenest borough in New York City. There are more than

723 Views, 0 Comments

On Staten Island’s North Shore, you can find the neighborhood of Sunset Hill.  This is a nice area that doesn’t have too much of the hustle and bustle of the city life.  In this neighborhood, aside from the nice parks you can find, there are a few New York City Landmarks.  One of these landmarks is the Dorothy Valentine Smith House.

The Dorothy Valentine Smith House is located at 1213 Clove Road, on a nice plot of land that actually holds two landmarks—the other one being the John King Vanderbilt House.  The Dorothy Valentine Smith House wasn’t built until sometime between 1893 and 1895 by John Frederick Smith, the father of Dorothy Valentine Smith.

Prior to the home’s existence, this area had been used as farmland during the eighteenth century, much

1,881 Views, 0 Comments

STATEN ISLAND'S REAL ESTATE MARKET REPORT FOR JANUARY

The housing market for Staten Island is improving, but it’s not stable quite yet.

Although the number of available homes on the market is still on the low end, more homeowners showed an interest in selling for the month of January. This past month, there was 1772 homes available for sale. Of the 1772 homes, only 292 actually sold in January. The total month’s inventory of 246 took 132 days to sell, meaning it would take roughly 7.2 months to clear out the inventory. 

January proved that there are enough available homes being sold but not enough buyers. For the market to gain traction, people need to continue moving rather than remodeling their current home space.

Home sales in Staten Island

1,219 Views, 0 Comments

In the neighborhood of Richmondtown, you can find a nice, quiet area that pulls you back in time.  This would be Historic Richmond Town, an area that has preserved Staten Island’s past for its present and future residents.  RandomToday, Historic Richmond Town is operated by both the Staten Island Historical Society and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  It has many historically-significant homes, stores, shops, ad objects from the past.  Of these historically-significant buildings, some of them had been originally built here, while others had been moved here to preserve them.  A good amount of these homes are New York City Landmarks, as well. 

Before 1898, which is when the City of New York came about, Cocclestown—or what is today known as

939 Views, 0 Comments

Basket Makers HouseHistoric Richmond Town was the first area on Staten Island to be used for a civic and county government center, being that it is right in the middle of Staten Island. It had its own courthouse, clerk’s office, stores, churches, hotel, residences, and more. Once Staten Island became a part of the City of New York in 1898, it’s civic and county center had moved to the North Shore of the borough, in St. George, to be closer to Manhattan. The courthouse, clerk’s office, and other county offices had been moved to St. George, since it was no longer a county-run government and it turned into a city-run government.

Historic Richmondtown is the place to go see Staten Island’s past come alive. Being dually operated by the Staten Island Historical Society and the

1,310 Views, 0 Comments

Edgewater Hall Staten IslandBefore the City of New York was formed in 1898, Staten Island had been comprised of five townships: Northfield, Southfield, Westfield, Castleton, and Middletown.  By 1866, however, some areas of Staten Island became their own incorporated villages, one of which was Edgewater.  These new incorporated villages were no longer a part of the townships and had created their own local governments.  The village of Edgewater was comprised of today’s Tompkinsville, Stapleton, and Clifton neighborhoods.

With Edgewater being an incorporated village, it needed a village hall.  In 1867, a small plot of land was purchased to be used as a public space.  This is where the Edgewater Village Hall had been constructed.  By 1889, the Edgewater Village Hall finally opened. 

1,404 Views, 0 Comments

During the late-seventeenth century and early-eighteenth century, a single-room, half-timbered Dutch Colonial home was built at 2 Hylan Boulevard. From its construction up until 1775, many additions were made to the house. Between the years of 1725 and 1750, a second room was added to the house. During the years between 1750 and 1775, another addition was made to the house, giving it an L-shape.

On maps from the early 1800s, various structures were shown as being on the property. In 1844, John Haggerty Austen purchased the home. Many repairs and renovations were made to the house, including the demolition of the structures not attached to the house. The years between 1844 and 1878 saw the addition of another room, a porch, and a projecting bay window.

1,193 Views, 0 Comments

If you’d like to see the oldest building still standing on Staten Island, you won’t find it in Historic Richmondtown. It’s actually further north, in the Mid-Island section of Staten Island. Just below Todt Hill, in the Dongan Hills community, you will find the Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, standing at 1476 Richmond Road. This building, which had served as a home for many generations, is one of the oldest buildings in New York, having been built in the early 1660s.

The first section of the home was erected by Pierre Billiou, whose name has been made known on Staten Island not only because of this house, but also because he was among the first permanent settlers on Staten Island. Pierre Billiou left his Amsterdam hometown with his wife in May of 1661

1,299 Views, 0 Comments

Today, the main line of the Staten Island Railway is still in operation and is quite popular.  There are currently twenty-two stations being used.  However, a station just before the last stop in southern Staten Island is planned and will replace the second- and third-to-last stops, which are quite close together.  This station would be known as the Arthur Kill Road station, as that is where it will be located.

The first station of the Staten Island Railway is at the St. George Ferry Terminal, which is located at Bay Street and 
Richmond Terrace.  This wheelchair-accessible station provides passengers with access to the ferry, as well as over one dozen buses which begin or end their routes here and travel to points all over the Island.  These buses

3,531 Views, 0 Comments


Between April 23 and June 2 of 1860, Staten Island was given its very own rail line. The track consisted of eighteen stations which began at Clifton and traveled along the East Shore of the Staten Island all the way down to Tottenville. This line was known as the Staten Island Railroad and, soon after having been constructed, was purchased by Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had also owned the ferry terminals on this side of the Island.

Many people believed the railroad to be a prosperous business and so it went through a handful of owners. Since Cornelius Vanderbilt had owned the ferries, you can imagine what an impact it had on him when a boiler exploded on the ferry Westfield in 1871. This left Cornelius Vanderbilt bankrupt, which led to the purchasing

6,410 Views, 0 Comments