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Blog Posts by Subject: Staten Island

The House That Elmer Built

  Last week, the Tottenville community lost a piece of its history. On September 9, the century old Manor House, a beautiful waterfront mansion located at 500 Butler Boulevard, was demolished. Although the Butler Manor Civic Association attempted to preserve the historic house, it was torn down by its new owner to make way for the building of luxury homes.

According to the

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Paul Zindel

Paul Zindel, writer of young adult and children's books, was born in Tottenville in 1936 and died in 2003 in Manhattan. Before becoming a full-time writer, he  taught at Tottenville High School between 1959 and 1969. (When Tottenville High School was in Tottenville. The newer version is actually in Huguenot.)

Before that, he attended Wagner College on Staten Island where he took a creative writing course with the playwright

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Mom, I'm Bored: Staten Island Summer Fun

Summer's here—what to do with the kids? South Beach offers a wonderful list of things to do this summer.

The South Beach Library has many programs this summer for children as well as adults. Why not join the summer reading club and earn prizes while you read. The Borough President is also offering programs from concerts to fireworks at the boardwalk area. There are ... Read More ›

Changing the Changing City

Seeking further enlightenment into the city we call home, I recently took a class on the literary and cultural history of New York City. Among the many themes common to New York City novels we discussed was the portrayal of the city itself as a character with power to shape the lives of its citizens.

Many of us New Yorkers have felt this pressure in our own lives: we choose where to live based on our budgets, our hobbies, our family situation, and often our ethnic, linguistic or religious 

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Mount Loretto, Staten Island, NY

This picture is at Mount Loretto, which was founded as Catholic orphanage on Staten Island in the late 19th century. It is still operating today, but it is not really an orphanage anymore; it is more of a social service agency. They recently built a CYO on its grounds and it has become a community center, with inside basketball courts and meeting rooms.

The church in the picture is still standing, but the buildings on either side are gone. In the early 1970's the exterior of the church was used in a scene from the famous movie

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Panorama of Richmond, Staten Island

Panorama of Richmond, Staten Island, N.Y. [view from high ground with St. Andrew's Church] (From NYPL Digital Gallery)

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church recently celebrated its 300th anniversary. My mother's family lived nearby when she was young. They later moved, but my grandmother was buried from St. Andrew's, in 1955, I think.

Richmond was the Staten Island County seat until it was later moved to St. George, near the ferry. Richmond is more or less the geographical center of Staten Island.

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Port Richmond Branch Library, The First 50 Years: 1905-1955

This post is a revised and updated version of an article that originally appeared in The Staten Island Historian, Winter-Spring 2002, Volume 19, New Series 2 published by the Staten Island Historical Society.

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The Port Richmond Branch of The New York Public Library is rich with stories. It stands at 75 Bennett Street on the North Shore of Staten Island, N.Y., two blocks from the Kill Van Kull. A gift from the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, the historic red brick building faces Veterans’ Park and P.S. 20 in the Port Richmond 

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"Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built"

From the flier for an upcoming program on March 19, 2009 at 4:00PM at the Tottenville Branch Library:

A Celebration of the History of Tottenville

The Tottenville Historical Society and the Tottenville Branch Library invite you to celebrate the arrival of the new book, Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built by Barnett Shepherd. “Scrupulously researched but lively vivid…” writes Christopher Gray of the New York Times. And Brian J. Laline, Editor, Staten Island Advance adds “Tottenville, Staten 

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At Home In Staten Island: A Tale of Two Literary Englishmen and Their Children

Charles Dickens & Charles Dickens Jr., Charles Mackay & Marie Corelli

A poem appeared in the weekly London periodical All The Year Round of April 11, 1869. It is called AT HOME IN STATEN ISLAND. There’s no author identified other than a “home-sick Englishman” There’s a bracketed paragraph at the beginning of the poem that seems inserted like an editor’s note. It describes the differences between the landscapes of England and Staten Island in the terms of one who is 

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Main Street, Tottenville, Staten Island, New York

Main Street, Tottenville, Staten Island, N.Y. [close view of shops and ad sign for Horton's Ice Cream, people in front of store under awning, old car in street]

Main Street is about a block away from the Tottenville Branch Library. The street looks very different today!

Image and Caption From NYPL Digital Gallery

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The St. George Theater, Staten Island

This is a great place, and it is within walking distance of the ferry. I went to movies here as a kid, and it is great to go to it again and see it in good shape! It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is fabulous! They are putting on a number of different kinds of shows now, including concerts and the occasional play. And they have a working Wurlitzer organ that they play before most performances. For more info on the theater, go to their website:

www.stgeorgetheatre.com

And it is right across the 

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Bethel Methodist Church, Tottenville

I found these pictures at www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com

The original Bethel Church in Tottenville burned down in 1886 and was re-built and dedicated the next year. There is a history of the church in Tottenville In Retrospect by Benjamin Franklin Joline, which is at the Tottenville Branch. When the church moved to its present location, pictured above, some members felt it was too far away from the heart of Tottenville, and they broke away to start another Methodist 

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WaFoo

WaFoo will be performing at the Tottenville Branch Library, 7430 Amboy Road, Staten Island, NY 10307, phone number 718-984-0945 this coming Saturday, July 12 at 2:30PM.

WaFoo, literally meaning "wind of Japan" or simply "Japanese style," is a group of talented musicians who have performed in many different countries across the world. WaFoo blends Japanese philosophy into a variety of music styles to create a lyrical, aesthetic and delightful sound to help regain energy for body and soul.

"WaFoo's amalgam of 

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The Flag of Staten Island

Even though I have read about this flag, I don’t recall ever seeing this being flown anyplace on Staten Island. I think some people think the big hill in the background is the garbage dump. And seagulls? Not the most beautiful or noble bird in the world! Somewhat of a scavenger, I believe. Maybe it is just as well it isn’t flown anyplace!

Some history:

Flag Description From: Staten Island Chamber of Commerce

OFFICIAL FLAG OF STATEN ISLAND: The flag is on a white background in the center of 

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Staten Island Aerial Photos from 1924

If you like the "Satellite View" feature in Google Maps then you should enjoy these aerial photographs of New York City. In 1924 Arthur Tuttle flew over the city snapping pictures of every building and landmark there was. His images of NYC rooftops clearly show the outline of all the buildings. The atlas containing his photos is called:

Sectional aerial maps of the City of New York / [photographed and assembled under the direction of the chief engineer, July 1st, 1924]. 

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Staten Island OutLOUD

This is a wonderful Staten Island nonprofit organization. I’ve attended a few of their events, and they have always been interesting and fun! The below information is from their website, which is at: www.statenislandoutloud.org

What is Staten Island OutLOUD? Staten Island OutLOUD is a grass-roots dialogue and performance project. Several times a month, we present free gatherings in community settings throughout Staten Island. We gather to read aloud to one another from a variety of world classics and other compelling 

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Historical Staten Island Maps in the NYPL Digital Collections

There's a great selection of Staten Island maps and Atlases in the NYPL Digital Gallery. Using the "Pan and Zoom" feature the maps can be enlarged to the point where you can read street names and even the names of residents of individual houses. "Pan and Zoom" is not available on all maps, however.

Here are some of the maps and atlases available:

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The Dump

Yesterday...

...and today!

OK, so this is the thing about which just about all Staten Islanders, no matter what their background or politics, have over the years been least proud. The Fresh Kills Landfill (or as we used to call it, “the dump,”) closed on March 22, 2001, certainly in part as a reward from then mayor Rudy Giuliani to Staten Island for its political support.

The dump opened up in 1948 and was supposed to be temporary. It grew to be by most accounts the largest garbage dump in the world.

I had the pleasure(?!) of 

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Staten Island Yankees

Spring has sprung, and for many of us that means the beginning of the baseball season. A few years ago, a ballpark, named Richmond County Ballpark at St. George, was built right next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. It is the home of the Staten Island Yankees, a Class A minor league team of the New York Yankees. They play a short season (this year from June 17 to September 6). Prices for tickets are cheap; in past years they have been in the $10 range for the best seats. Food prices are cheaper than the major leagues, but not as inexpensive as one might hope, at least in my 

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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

This bridge changed everything on Staten Island, changing it from a rural area of small towns and open spaces and farms (which I recall) to one of suburbia. I remember going to Fort Wadsworth with my family in the early 1960s to check the progress of the building of the bridge. The fort is now open to the public, and it is managed by the National Park Service and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

Staten Island was a Tory area during the American Revolution. However, I read an 

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