Long before any settlements were established on Staten Island, explorers would visit the island to obtain fresh water from a spring on Staten Island's northeastern shore. Once people began to settle on Staten Island, this well-known fact led to the naming of a settlement here as Watering Place. Eventually, the settlement turned into a neighborhood, which came to be known as Tompkinsville. It was named after a nineteenth-century governor of the State of New York, Daniel D. Tompkins.
In 1916, a seven-foot monument was sculpted by Allen G. Newman and given to the City of New York. The monument, known as The Hiker, was constructed to honor the soldiers who fought during the Spanish-American War. For some time, the monument stood in front of Staten Island's Borough Hall, in the neighborhood of St. George. Due to traffic collisions, it was moved to a spot further south in 1925, in the neighborhood of Tompkinsville.
The spot in which the monument is located today is known as Tompkinsville Park. Tompkinsville Park is a triangular parcel of land bound by Victory Boulevard to the north and Bay Street to the west and east. It is located near a major commercial area, giving residents a nice place to sit and relax.
The Hiker monument stands close to Victory Boulevard within the park, facing the street.The quadrilateral pedestal on which the Hiker stands contains four plaques. The plaque on the northern side honors the "the heroes of all wars in which our beloved country was engaged." The plaque on the southern side honors the Daughters of the American Revolution. The plaque on the eastern side honors the young soldiers of the First World War. The plaque on the western side honors those who fought during the American Civil War.The Hiker monument plays a big role in Memorial Day parades and Veterans' Day parades held in the area.
During the same year that the Hiker monument was moved to the park, a tablet was placed on a boulder within Tompkinsville Park. This tablet was erected to indicate that nearby was the spot where "early colonial navigators replenished their ships' supply of water from a spring well known to those anchoring inside the narrows before the year 1623"-the Watering Place. The tablet was donated by the Daughters of the American Revolution. While it may not have been the location of the earliest settlement, the Watering Place was the earliest historical spot known on Staten Island, as indicated on the tablet.
Tompkinsville Park was dedicated to Governor Daniel D. Tompkins in 1932. At that time, yet another tablet was posted on a boulder within the park to commemorate the former governor and vice president of the United States under James Monroe. The plaque elucidates some of the many ways Tompkins had contributed to Staten Island, such as laying out the Richmond Turnpike and creating the first steamboat ferry to operate from the borough.
Aside from the Hiker monument and tablets, there are a number of other great features within Tompkinsville Park. This is especially so due to renovations and additions made during the twenty-first century. The center of the park was given a large fountain, which has a flat surface for people to sit around it. Surrounding the fountain are benches, garbage pails, and drinking fountains, which are themselves surrounded by beautiful vegetation. The park is enclosed by a steel fence which was installed during a recent renovation.