About Tottenville, Staten Island
Located in the southernmost area of New York State is Tottenville, a Staten Island neighborhood which has often been referred to as the safest neighborhood in the city. Its history began with the Raritan Indians, who inhabited much of Staten Island and had the nearby Raritan Bay named after them. In Tottenville, you will find Burial Ridge, the largest American Indian burial ground on the island.
In 1674, European Captain Christopher Billop settled on Staten Island. Two years later, he was given a crown grant by James, Duke of York, of almost 1,000 acres of land. He named this area "Bentley Manor", after a ship he had commanded. By 1678, the Billop family built their estate on this land. Ten years later, Captain Christopher Billop was awarded another crown grant, adding 700 acres to his land. This area is now known as Tottenville.
During the Revolutionary War, a 1776 Staten Island Peace Conference was held at the Billop house. The unsuccessful attempt at peace resulted in the war lasting for several years. In 1784, the property was taken away from the Billops because they had been Loyalists, rather than Patriots, during the war. The land was then sold to various people.
1767 saw the arrival of the Totten family. During the rest of the 18th century, the family owned much property in what was still known as Bentley. In 1840, William Totten established Totten's Shipyard by the Arthur Kill. Eleven years later, his brother John Totten established the Tottenville Post Office, where he was appointed postmaster. By 1869, the neighborhood was renamed "Tottenville", in honor of the family.
During the 1800's, numerous shipyards existed along the shores of Tottenville. By 1886, there were eight: Ellis, Rutan, Butler, Sleight, Nass, Tracy, O'Boyle, and Brown, which were the largest of the eight. By 1900, these shipyards started to become defunct due to the use of steel, rather than wood, in the construction of boats. At this time, clamming and oystering were very good occupations to have and many of the property owners in the area did so for a living, which made them quite wealthy.
Many of the homes in Tottenville mimic those of the Victorian era. Many of these homes are still standing and several have been given the Preservation League of Staten Island Award. One of the oldest homes in the neighborhood, mentioned earlier, is the Billop House. Having been the site of the Staten Island Peace Conference, the house has been renamed "The Conference House" and is located in what is now "Conference House Park".
In addition to the Conference House, Conference House Park houses three other historic houses within its 267 acres; the Ward House, the Biddle House, and the Rutan-Beckett House. The Ward House was built around 1830 in what was then known as Wards Point. The portion of their property which was on the waterfront was sold to William H. Rutan, whose house in Conference House Park was built around 1850. One century later, the house was remodeled; however, it is still open to visitors. The Biddle House, which was home to Captain Henry Hogg Biddle, was built around 1845 and is of the rare Greek Revival style homes.
In addition to the historic houses, Conference House Park has many other features. Located along the Arthur Kill on the coast, the park was dedicated and opened to the public in 1937. Burial Ridge, as mentioned earlier, is located in the park. At the beginning of the 21st century, the park was renovated. It now has a pavilion on the western part of the beach with views of Perth Amboy, Raritan Bay, and the Great Beds Lighthouse, which was built in 1880. The park also has walking and biking paths, a playground, and a visitor's center with visitor's parking. Surf Avenue runs along the beach portion of the park; however, the name is deceiving, as the beach is more popular for fishing.
To the north of the park, on the other side of Tottenville, you have the Tottenville Marina, located at 201 Ellis Street. On 399 Ellis Street, you have Angelina's Ristorante, a restaurant which overlooks the water. Just as well, there are many other eateries in the area and throughout Tottenville. The 123rd Police Precinct also serves the area, which adds to the security of the neighborhood.
As of June 2, 1860, Tottenville has had a terminal on the Staten Island Railway line. This terminal, which is located on Arthur Kill Road and Bentley Street, is wheelchair accessible and has a transfer point to the 74 bus. The Atlantic and Nassau Stations, the other southernmost terminals of the railway, are considered to be part of the neighborhood. The Atlantic Station is located on Arthur Kill Road and Tracy Avenue, while the Nassau Station is located at the intersection of St. Andrews Place, Bethel Avenue, and Nassau Place.
In 1904, Tottenville became the first neighborhood in Staten Island with a Public Library. The Branch to the library is still in use and is located at 7430 Amboy Road. This same year, Our Lady Help of Christians Roman Catholic School opened. It is also still in use and is located on Summit Street. In 1936, Tottenville High School opened on Academy Avenue and Yetman Avenue. After being moved to a building on Luten Avenue in Huguenot in 1972, I.S. 34 began to operate in its original building. The other public schools in the area are P.S. 1 on Summit Street and P.S. 6 on Page Avenue.
From a housing stock perspective Tottenville is a mix of older turn of the century homes and new home construction developments. Older cottages, Dutch colonial's, Second Empire Victorian style, homes all have a presence in Tottenville. On the new construction end, modern Side Hall Colonial and Center Hall Colonial's which can be one or two family homes are also common in the area. While condominium units in Tottenville are limited, they do exist. One such condo development sits waterside and offer spectacular views of the Raritan Bay. They're located on the appropriately named street known as Surf Ave.
In 1922, a trackless trolley traveled to Tottenville. By 1927, however, the bus service replaced this mode of transportation. There are currently three local buses and one express bus that travel through Tottenville. The 74 and 78 both travel to and from St. George and the Bricktown Mall. The 74 takes Arthur Kill Road while the 78 travels along Hylan Boulevard. The 59, which also travels along Hylan Boulevard, goes to and from Port Richmondand Tottenville. The x22, Tottenville's express bus, will take you into New Jersey.
Tottenville borders the communities of Pleasant Plains, Princes Bay and Richmond Valley. This information is brought to you by your Staten Island real estate company, RealEstateSINY.com, Where you can find the latest MLS listed homes on Staten Island or sell a home. As a full service real estate company we are members of the SIBOR MLS.