Cornelius A. Hart

Cornelius A. HartIn our series of the 1800’s in Staten Island, many significant individuals made Staten Island what it is today. We see a lot of businesses being brought upon us, buildings with strong structures holding up, and beautiful houses that became residential landmarks. A man named Cornelius A. Hart was known as a businessman and was born in New Brighton in the year of 1851.

Hart attended public school and later, an academy that was conducted by Dr. Scheck. Today, the building that was once this academy is now known as “Belmont Hall”.  In the year 1868, Hart studied at the New York Commercial College, but he left to enter the importing house of James Reid & Co., of New York City. Hart started at the lowest position and successfully rose to the highest position in the firm. He passed every grade in the office, and, before ending his career there, he had nine clerks under his charge.

Patrick Hart, Cornelius's father, was a prominent and successful contractor on Staten Island. Patrick Hart was the one responsible for creating Bard Avenue and many principal streets in the neighborhood of New Brighton. Hart was influenced by his father's’ success, which is why he left the firm and joined his father's business.

These men successes were known around Staten Island. Cornelius Hart success in construction and laying out of new streets with major improvements that induced him to make large investments in real estate establishments. With the real estate locations he bought, he would improve and resell the lots to suitable buyers.

In 1884, Hart brought a large portion of land in New Brighton, in which he had opened seven avenues on. Today, we are highly familiar with these avenues: Forest, Hart, Sharon, Oakwood, Greenwood, Laurel Avenue, and University Place. The land was divided into three hundred and fifty lots and was settled in one of the most attractive places on Staten Island.

Hart was one of the largest taxpayers in the town of Castleton. He had purchased other lots in New Brighton, including a large plot of ground in West Brighton and the residence and grounds of the late Commodore Sloat, commander of the United States Navy.

He had a way of marketing himself  and his business with advertisements in the New York “World”  and other New York daily papers, which brought him into prominence as a real estate speculator and owner. In 1876, Hart was elected trustee of the village of New Brighton by the largest majority ever given to a candidate from the Second ward.

Hart's success was known all throughout the Richmond County, which was what provoked him to pursue his childhood interest in politics and connecting with the democratic party. Then in 1878, he was elected to be county clerk by a phenomenally large majority and was re-elected in 1881 and again in 1884.

Hart married to Miss Hannah Bowman of New Brighton on June 23rd, 1875. The Harts were a member of the St. Peter's Church in New Brighton, giving the parish charitable gifts.

Not only was business and politics his specialty, but he was connected with many clubs, societies, and social organizations. Hart was fond of athletic sports, especially hunting, and fishing, where he traveled outside Staten Island to enjoy these hobbies.

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