Why is Staten Island part of NYC?

In advance of my trip to NYC next Spring, I’ve had the occasion to look at a few maps, and I’m surprised to notice that Staten Island isn’t even on many NYC maps. It’s too far away from the other boroughs, and when I was looking at the maps in an old encyclopedia that I have, I found that I needed to look at a map of New Jersey to see where Staten Island actually is.


Why, exactly, did it become part of the metropolis?

Is it even possible to get to Staten Island other than by taking a boat or swimming?

And is there anything there I’d want to see as a visitor?

Ever hear of the Verrazano Narrows bridge? It links SI to Brooklyn. SI is quite proximate to the rest of NYC. Consider that other than the Bronx, all of NYC is located on islands.

Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge.

Staten Island has many sites in the National Register of Historic Places. Go ahead, take an on-line tour.

Ah, now I get it. I’ve been looking mainly at maps of Manhattan, so that must be why I didn’t see it.

And thanks for the link.

Staten island was part of the original Dutch colony of New Netherlands. Its Dutch name was Staten Eylandt, Staten in honor of the States General of the United Provinces, the ruling body that authorized the formation of the colony. The Dutch farmed the island, as they did with the body of land on the other side of the Hudson River, the Lange Eylandt. New Utrecht was the settlement directly opposite of Staten Eylandt.

I have to recommend the excellent The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America, by RUSSELL SHORTO for an eye-opening look at the early days of what become New York.

The Bayonne Bridge connects Staten Island to Hudson County, N.J. Certain flight routes out of Newark Airport will put you right over the Bayonne Bridge (and then S.I.), with a lovely view of both, moments after takeoff, confirming what the OP said about how close N.J. is to S.I.

If you’re a guitar freak you definitely want to go to Mandolin Brothers. They encourage you to play all the guitars, banjos, mandolins, bouzoukis, and any other instrument they have there.

There’s also the Tibetan Museum which is interesting but it’s like a major pilgrimmage to get there. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re really into that stuff.

Sounds like a fun place. I am a guitar player. In fact, if I have enough money left over from my trip I might buy a Chapman Stick.

And by all means, take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which connects the tip of Manhattan to Staten Island. You get a wonderful view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, and you pass the Statue of Liberty. There’s another boat that takes you to the SoL and Ellis Island.

This is not exactly accurate.

Mnahattan has Marble Hill which is part of the mainland USA, and the Bronx has City Island which is an island.

I’ve always said they should just trade and be done with it. :slight_smile:

Until the 1660’s, the Dutch colony of New Netherland originally stretched approximately from the Delaware River to the Connecticut River, encompassing what is now New York, New Jersey and part of Connecticut, though there was conflict between English and Dutch settlements (and their respective rulers) in what is now Connecticut and on Long Island.

In March 1664, James Stuart, Duke of York, brother of King Charles II, was made proprietor of the territory between the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers (plus some other territories), an area that was controlled by Dutch. York dispatched Colonel Richard Nicolls, four frigates and about two thousand troops to what was then New Amsterdam, arriving August 26 and disembarking troops in “Breuckelen” and Staten Island. After a bit of a stand-off, and a promise by Col. Nicholls guaranteeing “every man in his Estate, life and liberty,” the Dutch surrendered on September 8, 1664. Col. Nicholls declared that both the colony and the city would be known as New York.

In 1665, the Duke of York gave the portion of the colony between the Hudson and the Delaware to John Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, who called the new colony New Jersey. The boundaries of what became New Jersey and what remained in New York were most likely contained in the deed of grant from York to Berkeley and Carteret, though I don’t know the details of it. I would suspect that State Island was retained in New York because it was already developed for agriculture and economically part of the regional economy of the City of New York.

In 1664, the City of New York was on the lower tip of Manhattan, and from there grew up the island, eventually crossing onto the mainland into part of what is now known as the Bronx. The City of Brooklyn developed across the East River from lower Manhattan, and eventually absorbed the other towns that comprised Kings County. North and east of Brooklyn were another group of town (plus Long Island City) in what is now known as Queens. Staten Island (Richmond County) was also had a number of towns which were increasingly interdependent with New York City.

In 1898, all of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and what is now the Bronx (having pulled some further land away from Westchester County) were joined together into greater New York City. If you want further details about municipal consolidation, ask stuyguy, our resident expert on the consolidation, and its protaganist, Andrew Haswell Green.

[source: Edwin G. Burrows & Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Oxford University Press, 1999]

A couple things worth seeing when the weather warms up:

There is a 260 acre wildlife refuge where we used to go on school trips.

Sailors Snug Harbor is an educational/historical complex and also the site of the S.I. Botanical Garden, which includes a Chinese Scholars Garden (touted as one of the few genuine Chinese garden designs in the U.S).

The S.I. Zoo, at least when I was growing up, was said to have an extensive reptile collection among other attractions.

There is also the Richmondtown Restoration for those into Revolutionary War era historical stuff.

Add in several golf courses, quite a few more decent restaurants than there were when I was growing up, and the S.I. Mall, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to waste time on Manhattan. :smiley:

Other bridges between New Jersey and S.I.: the Goethals and the Outerbridge Crossing.

By the way, the thread title represents something many Staten Islanders asked themselves for years.

Resentment over poor services, being the repository for the city’s garbage, and in general being viewed as a backwater populated by rednecks (overall, the Island is politically much further to the right than the city as a whole) culminated about a decade ago in a vote to secede from NYC.

The movement has died down, but you never know when a civil war might yet break out. :slight_smile:

International Speedway Corporation just spent $100 million on a piece of land on Staten Island and will be looking to build a new racetrack soon. That redeck reputation will be reinforced when the boys of NASCAR come callin’.

Riker’s Island, the site of the NY city jail, is also part of the Bronx, although its main connection to the outside world is via a bridge to Queens.

And to Manhattan by the famous Staten Island Ferry.


Allow me a moment to wrap my head around that one.

I’m thinking, now, it might be interesting to go to SI just for the purpose of hanging out in a coffeeshop and experiencing the other end of NY life and politics. It sounds a world away from Manhattan and the other boroughs.

But the only reason that it is part of New York County is because at one time it was part a part of Manhattan island.

Zev Steinhardt

When I got off the ferry at Staten Island I saw signs mentioning a stadium. Who plays in that stadium?