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Lectures from the Allen Room and the Wertheim Study: The Forgotten Borough : Staten Island in New York City, 1898-1964


November 22, 2013

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Staten Island was not always an anomaly among the boroughs, different and often forgotten.  When Greater New York was created in 1898, some of the most enthusiastic support came from what would become the Borough of Richmond, which voted nearly 4-1 in favor of consolidation.  Though wary of being enveloped by their giant neighbors, many Staten Islanders expressed great optimism for an expected boost in public services and infrastructure, which they predicted would lead to commercial, industrial and residential growth.  Perhaps more than anything, they looked for a direct physical link with the rest of the city through its incipient subway system, which opened in 1904.  However, the honeymoon was brief.  What followed over the next four decades was constant frustration as Staten Island was repeatedly excluded from each expansion of the subway system.  Its long physical isolation from the rest of the city played no small part in its following a distinct development pattern among the five boroughs.
Kenneth Gold, a writer in residence in the Library’s Wertheim Study, is the Dean of  Education at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, CUNY.  He holds an  appointment as an Associate Professor in its Department of Education and in the CUNY Graduate Center’s doctoral program in Urban Education.  During his recent stint in the Wertheim Study, he completed research for “The Forgotten Borough,” a manuscript on Staten Island’s historical relationship with the rest of New York City in the Twentieth Century.  Dr. Gold is the author of School’s In : The History of Summer Education in American Public Schools, (2002) and co-editor of Discovering Staten Island : A 350th Commemorative History (2011).