Aside Posted on
courtesy of Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Islanders will usually say they live in Dongan Hills and Woodrow rather than on Richmond Road or Rossville Avenue. Residents are proud of the towns they live in and are quick to note which one they’re from.
Islanders tend to divvy up the borough into five wider designations, too: the North Shore, South Shore, West Shore, East Shore and Mid-Island.
Clues to Staten Island’s rich history are hidden within the names of its many communities and areas within communities.
Once inhabited by the Raritan Indians. Named around 1860 to honor Mrs. Anna S. Seguine, a descendant of French Huguenots who settled on the South Shore. Today, Annadale’s once-pristine woodlands have been developed into small tracts of pricey homes.
Named around 1886 by Erastus Wiman, a 19th-century real estate developer, promoter, entrepreneur and journalist. He created the transportation hub in St. George and was partially responsible for bringing electricity to the Island.
Once a station on the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad. The name now refers to the Arlington railroad yard in Mariners Harbor. Many of the oldest homes in the Arlington area belonged to oystermen in the early 1900s.
Once inhabited by Lenape Indians. Settlements here were started by W.W. MacFarland, who named the area around 1880, for his remembrances of the hills of Arrochar at the northern end of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It was also called Dover for a time.
A small South Shore community, north of Great Kills, with 33 streets. Staten Island Rapid Transit has a station in Bay Terrace.
Known during the 17th century as Daniell’s Neck and later called Merrell Town, after a farmer, then Watchogue. The name first appeared in an atlas around 1874. Today, Bloomfield is blossoming as the borough’s high-tech and corporate center.
Attractive residential area overlooking New York Harbor on one side and Silver Lake Park on the other.
Named for a tavern that once stood at the intersection of what is now Richmond Avenue and Victory Boulevard. The pub, which boasted a portrait of a bull as its hallmark, was used as a Tory headquarters during the American Revolution.
Named after Cassiltowne in County Kildare, Ireland, the hometown of Gov. Thomas Dongan, the English leader of New Amsterdam in 1683. The community was once called Centerville until a post office bearing the current name was established in 1872.
Once called Kreischerville after Balthasar Kreischer, who owned a brick factory in the area during the mid-1800s. After World War I, residents adopted the current name, dismissing the Germanic-sounding Kreischerville as “Teutonic” and too reminiscent of America’s newly defeated enemy. Today, Charleston, with its mostly manufacturing zoning, has avoided large-scale development. The community was home to the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, which closed in December 2011.
Once called Pralistown for the family who was granted the land in 1675. During the American Revolution, the area was known as Peanutville, because villagers once stored peanuts there, which were sold to ferry riders traveling to New Brunswick, N.J.
Laid out in 1837 and incorporated into the village of Edgewater in 1866. From 1858 to 1863, the area was called Bay View Post Office.
Named around 1845 after Concord, Mass., site of the first shot of the American Revolution, and hometown of prominent Island residents Judge William Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Earlier, the community was called Dutch Farms.
Named for Gov. Thomas Dongan (see Castleton Corners). Part of the area was also once called Linden Park and Old Town.
Named for the Egbert family, which farmed the area in the 1700s, the community was called Morgan’s Corner around 1838 and has also been known in jest as Tipperary Corners, New Dublin and Young Ireland for its significant Irish population.
Once a popular beach resort, the community was once called Jacksonville (1829) and Lowville (1849). It was also the site of the first dock west of Port Richmond when the North Shore Ferry operated. Elm Park’s name was derived from the estate of Dr. John T. Harrison, which faced Newark Bay and was surrounded by elm trees.
Once known as South Side (1873) and later Sea Side, Eltingville takes its name from the Elting family, which settled the area in the 19th century.
Named for its prominent resident, Judge William Emerson, who moved there in 1843. The judge was often visited by his brother, essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, and his children were tutored by author/naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Today, Emerson Hill is one of the borough’s most posh neighborhoods.
This former military base, joined to the Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972, still retains units of the U.S. Army Reserve, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Defense Logistics Agency. The fort’s attractions include several 18th-century artillery batteries, athletic fields and a fishing beach. Tours offer a look at the history of Fort Tompkins and Battery Weed and their roles in the Civil War. Educational exhibits and ranger-led programs are available.
Known as Fayetteville in 1830, the name was changed to Granite Village, then shortened to Graniteville around 1850, when quarries in the area were established.
Originally called Frenchtown, the community was renamed for the famous Civil War general just after the conflict began.
Named for a village in the Lake District of England, where Sir Roderick Cameron, who named the community, had been born. Today, Grasmere, home to the Staten Island Advance, is dotted with many charming lakefront homes.
Once a mecca for fishermen and noted for the fine seafood served in its hotels. The shoreline was called Cairedon and the inland was known as Newtown. The area was later named Gifford’s (as in Giffords Lane, which bisects the community), after the local commissioner and surveyor of roads, Daniel Gifford. The name, derived from the Dutch word kil (creek), was adopted in 1865. Today, Great Kills is home to a thriving marina and is part of the expansive Gateway National Recreation Area.
Once the site of the French Church, a place of worship for the many Huguenot families who settled in the area. Called Kleine Kill by the Dutch and Fresh Kills by the Colonial English. Also once known as Marshland, and named Green Ridge around 1876.
Developed by Major George Howard (Howard Avenue cuts through it). The area is named for Madame Suzette Grymes, the widow of Gov. Claiborne, Louisiana’s first governor, who came to live there in 1836. Today Grymes Hill, a posh hillside community, is home to Wagner College and St. John’s University.
Known as Bloomingview in the mid-1800s, the community derives its name from the Protestant Huguenots who fled persecution in France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, Huguenot’s natural woodlands have been sacrificed for upscale housing.
Also called Richmond Hill, this part of central Staten Island was named for the Staten Island Lighthouse in 1907. Today, Lighthouse Hill ranks among the borough’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
Originally developed as Elliotville in 1840 by Samuel MacKenzie Elliot, a prominent eye surgeon who owned more than 30 houses in the area, it was later renamed after a nearby railroad station. Today, Livingston is home to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
Called Erastina in honor of Erastus Wiman, a prominent developer who built ballparks, casinos and was responsible for bringing Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show here in 1886. The community became home to many prosperous sea captains and its name was changed in the 1880s.
Named for Joachim Meier, who lived in the Martling-Cozine house before the American Revolution. The house survived into the 1980s.
One of the finest resort areas in New York City around 1900. Fires and pollution contributed to its demise after World War II. Today, Midland Beach ranks as one of the city’s finest natural waterfronts and is again attracting beach-goers since environmentalists have focused attention on New York Bay. Developers have also taken a keen interest in the area and are busy building up the bungalow community.
Named around 1834 by English developer William E. Davis after Brighton, England, the elegant seaside resort on the English Channel, south of London. Earlier, it was called Goosepatch, Vinegar Hill and Tuxedo.
Derives its name from 17th-century Dutch settlers who called the area Nieuwe Dorp, meaning New Town. Early English settlers renamed the area Stony Brook.
NEW DORP BEACH
The part of New Dorp which lies on the waterfront.
Settled in 1680 when it was called Karle’s Neck Village because of the extension of land between Main Creek and Richmond Creek. By the early 1800s, the area included a hamlet, dock and several freshwater springs, hence the title Springville and later New Springville. Today, New Springville is a thriving retail center, and includes the Staten Island Mall on Richmond Avenue.
A prominent sea resort during the late 19th century. The area is also undergoing a spurt of development.
The part of Oakwood which lies on the waterfront.
Originally a summer beach colony of bungalows and tents, the beach is now part of the city parks system. Today, Ocean Breeze is home to a campus of Staten Island University Hospital, among the borough’s foremost medical institutions.
This community of rolling meadows was named after a railroad station built in 1860 at a bend in Amboy Road. Acclaimed harpist Maud Morgan and New York Opera manager Max Maretzek once lived there. Today, Pleasant Plains is home to one of the Island’s largest burial grounds, Resurrection Cemetery.
The name Richmond was first ascribed to Staten Island geography by Gov. Dongan in 1633. The county, which spawned the various Richmond community names, was named to honor the Duke of Richmond, King Charles II’s illegitimate son. Port Richmond, which was used as burial grounds at the end of the 17th century and was called Decker’s Ferry during the American Revolution, was named by the Rev. James Brownlee.
PORT RICHMOND CENTER
This community to the south of Port Richmond is located primarily around the Forest Avenue Shoppers Town.
Called Lemon Creek until about 1861. Named for William, Prince of Orange, who became King of England (1650-1702). The onetime prosperous fishing and oystering village produced oysters so well known they were called Prince’s Bay oysters on menus in Manhattan and London. Today, Prince’s Bay is home to a campus of the Staten Island University Hospital.
Named for Capt. Robert R. Randall, who bequeathed his fortune to build Sailors’ Snug Harbor for retired seamen.
First called Coccles Town, perhaps for the abundance of oyster and clam shells commonly called coccle shells found in the waters of the Fresh Kills, until about 1728. Civic center of Richmond County until the emergence of St. George in the early 1900s. Today, Richmond is home to Historic Richmond Town, the city’s only living historic village.
Forms part of Tottenville. Contains many nice houses along Amboy Road, Beach Avenue and other streets.
Once considered part of Clifton and was part of Peterstown until 1880. Rosebank became a favored Island destination for Italian immigrants at the turn of the century.
Named in the 1830s after Col. William E. Ross, who had built a replica of Windsor Castle, called Ross Castle, on a hill overlooking the ferry depot there. Originally called Old Blazing Star, after a tavern located in the area.
The Mid-Island town boasts the Farm Colony-Sea View Hospital Historic District, Staten Island’s first and the city’s 48th historic district. The former Farm Colony, bounded by Brielle, Walcott and Colonial avenues, once functioned as the city’s poorhouse. Until the 1950s, Sea View was the largest tuberculosis hospital in the world. Today, the Greenbelt Recreation Center sits on part of the Farm Colony site and the Greenbelt Nature Center is a block away.
Once belonged to Henry Alexander during the 19th century and was developed by Cornelius G. Kolff in the 1930s. Today, Shore Acres remains a secluded enclave of pricey, waterfront homes.
Diverse community with spacious homes, high-rise apartments and open parkland. Silver Lake is snugly wrapped around the Island’s first city-owned park — Silver Lake Park — and the borough’s largest body of freshwater.
Settled as Oude Dorp, Dutch for Old Town, this was the site (1679) of the Island’s permanent European settlement, later home to fine hotels and bathing beaches. This major resort area rivaled Coney Island from 1880 until 1920. Today, the refurbished FDR Boardwalk and cleaner waters are again attracting beachgoers.
The story goes that Erastus Wiman named the community, the site of his transportation hub and elaborate entertainment ventures, after George Law, a prominent Grymes Hill resident and well-known engineer. Law had owned a good portion of the area that Wiman desired for development. The entrepreneur promised the engineer if he would sell the land he would be so “canonized.” Today, St. George is home to the borough government and court system.
Named in 1836 for William J. Staples, a wealthy developer and friend of Minthorne Tompkins, son of Vice President Daniel Tompkins (see below). At times, the community was called Coles Ferry, New Ferry and Second Landing. Onetime home of the Staten Island Stapes, the borough’s first and only National Football League franchise (1920s and 1930s).
Named for a boarding house that was established there in 1889. It was once known as Clovenia, named by a land development company referring to the area in the Clove Valley near what is now Victory Boulevard.
Named Yserberg (Iron Hill) by early Dutch settlers because of the rich iron ore deposits mined there, Todt Hill, at 410 feet, ranks as the Island’s highest point and the second highest on the Eastern Seaboard. Todt is most likely derived from the Dutch for dead, an indication the hill also was once used as a burial ground. Today, Todt Hill ranks as the borough’s most prestigious community.
Named for onetime New York governor and U.S. Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins, who founded it in 1815. Former site of the Watering Place, a freshwater spring used by early explorers.
Originally part of the Manor of Bentley in the late 1600s and later called The Neck during the American Revolution. Named since 1862 for Major General Joseph G. Totten, chief engineer of the U.S. Army, who directed the building of fortifications along the Eastern Seaboard, except for a brief period around 1910 when it was called Bentley Manor. Today, Tottenville is home to the Conference House, site of unsuccessful peace talks between John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge and British officials in September 1776.
Called Linoleumville (site of the nation’s first linoleum factory) until the 1920s, when residents voted to choose a name more in keeping with the area’s long history. Originally, the community was known as Travisville, after Col. Jacob Travis, who resided there before the Civil War. Other names included Jersey Wharf, New Blazing Star, Long Neck and Deckertown. Today, Travis is noted for hosting the borough’s popular Independence Day parade.
Named for Caleb T. Ward, who bought the hill in 1826. Today, Ward Hill is a quiet enclave of sometimes high-priced homes overlooking New York Bay and the Manhattan skyline.
Originally part of Gov. Dongan’s Manor of Cassiltowne and called Factoryville after Barrett’s Dye Works was established there after 1819. Today, West Brighton is home to the Richmond University Medical Center, among the borough’s foremost medical institutions.
Developed in 1887 by the National Prohibition Campground Association, which bought 25 acres of the property and opened Prohibition Park. Many streets in the area are named for prohibitionists and states that voted for Prohibition. Isaac Funk, editor of Funk and Wagnells Encyclopedia, poet Edwin Markham and heiress Amy Vanderbilt are among those who lived here.
Named for the brook that flowed through the farmland, the area was one of the Island’s premier rural settings until the establishment of the Willowbrook State School in 1951. Earlier, the area housed Halloran General Hospital, a U.S. Army facility during World War II. Today, Willowbrook is home to the College of Staten Island and the Carousel for All Children.
This South Shore town is home to Community Board 3 in the Woodrow Shopping Plaza. Woodrow is also the location of the first Methodist church — Woodrow United Methodist Church — in this part of the country, built in 1771. Its colonial burial ground contains some of the Island’s earliest families: Poillon, Seguine, Winant, LaForge and