Staten Island Neighborhood Profile: West Brighton
On Staten Island's North Shore, you will find the neighborhood of West Brighton, which is surrounded by New Brighton, Port Richmond, Sunnyside, and Castleton Corners. In 1819 Barrett, Tileston and Company was opened at Richmond Terrace and Broadway. The plant was a cloth dyeing factory, whose founders were from Boston. In 1825, the plant was reorganized as the New York Dyeing and Printing Establishment. Their success brought more New Englanders to the community and influenced many others to establish more factories in West Brighton. Due to the mass amount of factories which soon populated the area, the community was named Factoryville.
In 1866, Brown's Carriage Manufactory was established on Richmond Terrace in Factoryville. This was just one of Staten Island's many wagon and carriage factories at the time. Just nearby the manufactory was Brown's Rapid Transit Livery Stable. The livery stable had the same job as taxis. People would rent a horse and carriage from the livery stable to meet them at the ferry. In 1895, the Staten Island Electric Railroad Company began to take over the horse and carriage routes, which resulted in the closing of Brown's Carriage Manufactory and the opening of the Richmond Storage and Warehouse Van Company.
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During the latter part of the century, West Brighton was home to Staten Island's largest industrial plant, C. W. Hunt Company. The founder of the company, Charles Wallace Hunt, was in the coal business. Being an inventor, he created many coal-related products to simplify the transport of coal, such as automatic railway cranes and the grab bucket. In 1872, C. W. Hunt Company was built at Richmond Terrace, which was known as Shore Road at the time, and Van Street. His inventions were manufactured at the factory and sold in the country, as well as overseas. While he had over 100 patents, he did not protect them after their expirations, and his machines began to be reproduced by other companies. During the Great Depression, the C.W. Hunt plant, along with many others, was finally forced to close. Since the number of factories had depleted, the neighborhood was then renamed as West Brighton, or West New Brighton.
Robert Richard Randall was a philanthropic sea captain during the 18th century. In his will, he stated that his estate would be transformed into a hospital for retired seamen. Following his death in 1801, the land was converted into Sailor's Snug Harbor. During the early 1970's, the land was purchased by the City of New York, which resulted in the opening of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in 1976. In 2008, the center merged with the Staten Island Botanical Garden, becoming the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
In 1903, a West New Brighton estate was purchased by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of New York. Upon this land, a 50-bed hospital was built. In 1903, a five-story building was constructed. Thirty years later, a Department of Psychiatry was added and by 1961, the bed capacity had grown to 323. With its 1978 and 1989 expansions, St. Vincent's Hospital was then sold in 2006 and became Richmond University Hospital, which now has a bed capacity of 440.
West Brighton is one of Staten Island's more established communities as far as its housing inventory is concerned. The neighborhood has many classical style homes, which include a number of Second Empire style and Victorian Style homes. A portion of West Brighton on its southern most side adopted the name of Sunset Hill, which comes from the fact that the neighborhood sits on the hills elongated slope.
In 1933, the President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Projects Administration began construction on an 8-acre area of land that had been willed to the City of New York. By 1936, construction was complete and the Staten Island Zoo was opened to the public. The zoo's primary focus at the time had been reptiles. The zoo later developed, adding more animals to its collection. What had started as a reptilian zoo, with just its Serpentarium, is now home to over 200 different species of animals.
There are a number of schools in and around West Brighton. The public schools include P.S. 18, at 221 Broadway; P.S. 45, at 58 Lawrence Avenue; P.S. 19, at 780 Post Avenue; I.S. 27, at 11 Clove Lake Place; I.S. 61, at 445 Castleton Avenue; and Port Richmond High School, at 85 Saint Josephs Avenue. The nearest Catholic schools are Sacred Heart School, at 301 North Burgher Avenue; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, at 285 Clove Road; St. Peter's High School for Boys, at 200 Clinton Avenue; and Notre Dame Academy, at 134 Howard Avenue. Another private school in the area is Miraj Islamic School, at 307 Victory Boulevard.
When Staten Island had a North Shore branch of the Staten Island Railway, West Brighton had its own station. That, however, ended in 1953. The neighborhood is now served by a few local buses, all coming from the St. George ferry terminal, and an express bus to Manhattan. The s46 travels to the West Shore Plaza along Castleton Avenue, while the s48 travels to Mariners Harbor along Forest Avenue and the s44 travels to the Staten Island Mall along Richmond Avenue. The x30, the neighborhood's express bus, goes into Midtown Manhattan from the neighborhood of Sunnyside by traveling along Forest Avenue.