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Top 100 Historical Events

The Staten Island Advance listed 100 events in Staten Island history and asked readers to vote on the most significant. It presented the 100 in reverse order. Here they are.

100. Dec. 23, 1985 Staten Island's first Islamic house of worship, Muslim Majlis Mosque, is established in Concord. The mosque meets the religious and social needs of the community's growing population of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Egypt, Trinidad, India, Nigeria and other African nations.

99. 1971 With enrollment declining as interest in single-sex education diminishes, and beset with financial difficulties, the 40-year-old all-female Notre Dame College on Grymes Hill closes and St. John's University assumes control of the campus.

98. 1929 The Stapleton Stapes join the National Football League. Although never an upper-echelon team during their four years in the elite league, the Stapes do manage a 0-0 tie with the world champion Chicago Bears in their final season.

97. 1916 The city's Department of Health closes the last of New York Harbor's oyster beds. In the late 19th century, Staten Island oystermen harvested some 130,000 bushels of oysters - worth $40 million - a year. But the thriving industry is slowly snuffed out by sewage contamination - a 1910 typhoid outbreak is attributed to oysters - and by increased water pollution from oil companies and other manufacturers.

96. 1663 Rev. Samuel Drisius begins bi-monthly visits to the fledgling population of European colonists at South Beach, marking the formal arrival of Western religion. Drisius, a Dutch Church minister who preaches in English and French as well as Dutch, journeys here by boat from New Amsterdam (Manhattan) to administer the Lord's Supper.

95. 1705 Rev. Aeneas Mackenzie, an English missionary with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, arrives to found a congregation in Cocclestown (Richmond). At first, Mackenzie preaches at the French Church, until he dedicates in 1712 Richmond's Church of St. Andrew, the Island's oldest continuous congregation.

94. April 1886 The Metropolitan Baseball Club opens the season at their new home in St. George. The major-league team is brought to Staten Island by entertainment promoter Erastus Wiman, and the Mets are expected to become the magic bullet that attracts loads of basball fans - and their dollars - to the Island. But two miserable seasons prove the club's undoing, and it folds in 1887.

93. July 4, 1888 Prohibition Park, a model community and summer resort for temperance supporters, opens 32 years before Prohibition is passed. The park, founded by leaders of the National Prohibition Party, draws vacationers by the thousands seeking respectable leisure and folks looking for genteel homes away from the crowded city. But the new experiment in living fails after 15 years, and the community becomes known as Westerleigh.

92. Dec. 19, 1927 Dorothy Day, the feisty social reformer who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement, is baptized at Our Lady Help of Christians in Tottenville. Day, expected to be recognized a Roman Catholic saint someday, establishes the first Catholic Worker farm in Huguenot in 1934, maintaining a strong, life-long connection with the borough.

91. Sept. 1881 The Natural Science Association is organized by a group of local naturalists, including William T. Davis. Later renamed the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, the institute is among the nation's oldest general-interest museums.

[janet's note - one of the founders was also Nathaniel Lord Britton, a relative.]

90. Dec. 18, 1963 In a sports war reminiscent of the biblical battle between David and Goliath, Wagner College upsets New York University in basketball 77-76, defeating the nation's top team.

89. March 28, 1942 An explosion at the Unexcelled Manufacturing Co. fireworks plant in Graniteville kills five workers. Investigators theorize an electrical spark may have set off flammable material that the men were mixing to make Army and Navy signal flares.

88. Sept. 6, 1926 Torrential rains cause Bodine Creek in West Brighton to overflow. Two dams collapse, reulting in flooding from Arlington to Clifton that causes more than $1 million in property damage. Two people are killed.

87. April 1888 The Richmond County Country Club is organized to "promote social recreation and encourage an interest in riding and driving" - horses and golf. The RCCC is first located in a two-story building in Sunnyside (now part of the Staten Island Expressway) with an initial membership of 165. Later, it expands to include an 18-hole golf course, and a club house on Todt Hill.

[janet's note - didn't this destroy a few cemeteries?]

86. August 3, 1975 After holding steady for 70 years, the one-way five cent ferry fare rises 250 percent to a quarter round trip. With a financial crisis looming, the city claims it can no longer subsidize the world-famous nickel fare.

85. October 1, 1905 New York city places four engine and three hook and ladder companies into service, replacing most of the Island's volunteer companies (one remains in Travis, another in Four Corners.) Volunteer fire companies reached their apex during the years following the Civil War, when more than 75 different fire houses were scattered throughout the county.

84. October 23, 1829 County supervisors purchase Mid-Island farm near present site of Sea View Hospital and Home. Two months later, the farm is converted into the Farm Colony, Staten Island's first poor house. The colony is a self-sufficient community for the needy, who grow their own food and sell goods at the colony's general store. The collection of 50 buildings at the 380-acre site is abandoned in the 1950s and later named the city's 48th historic district.

83. 1884 Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, the Island's first Jewish congregation, is founded in Tompkinsville. After meeting without a formal synagogue for about seven years, the congregation moves into a building on what is now Victory Boulevard. In the 1970s, the congregation moves to its current location on Martling Avenue in West Brighton.

[janet's note - Richmond Turnpike was renamed Victory Boulevard after WW I.]

82. 1819 Barrett, Tileston & Co., a dye house and printing works, opens in West Brighton, beginning a new chapter in Island economic life - industrial development. Barrett's is the earliest and largest venture of its kind in the state, serving clients as far south as Savannah, Ga. Many southern communities no longer need rely on farther-away Boston dye works to color broadcloth and other fabrics. The success of the plant attracts similar ventures to the community, which becomes known as Factoryville.

81. May 4, 1971 Staten Islander Paul Zindel wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play "Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds." Zindel, a former chemistry teacher at Tottenville High School, draws inspiration for his works from local sites and personas. A prolific author of literature for adolescents, Zindel's most popular works include "The Pigman" and "My Darling, My Hamburger."

80. June 21, 1774 Daniel D. Tompkins, an influential public official and long-time Island resident who developed Tompkinsville, is born in Fox Meadows (now Scarsdale), N.Y. As governor of New York from 1807 to 1817, Tompkins helped outlaw slavery in the state. During the War of 1812, he helped finance the state militia. Tompkins also served two terms as vice president under James Monroe.

79. August 11, 1937 Heavy rains collapse a six-family tenement on New Street (now Jersey Street, site of the Richmond Terrace Houses) in New Brighton. Nineteen people, including a heroic police officer attempting to rescue a trapped child, are killed.

Our Borough Historian, Dick Dickenson, adds:
The readers know their Staten Island History! Glad that this was included in S. I. on the Web. Have not read it all but one that caught my eye was about a building on New Street that was demolished in a 1937 flood. Mention was made of it being where the Richmond Terrace Houses are on Jersey St. A similar incident occurred on New Street in PORT RICHMOND. Perhaps the underground stream damages to the playground and newer (1980's) housing on Jersey St. was overlaid in the interpretation of the flood event?

78. 1918 Staten Island gets its first institution of higher education when Wagner College moves to the former 38-acre Cunard estate on Grymes Hill from Rochester, N.Y. The first year's enrollment includes 16 students and one professor - plus a 2,000 book library. Local civic leaders lobbied hard for the school's relocation here.

77. May 20, 1736 The ferry age begins when Adoniah Schuyler petitions the governor to establish a public boat across the Arthur Kill to Elizabethtown, N.J. Within the next two decades, additional ferries are established between the east Shore and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; the North Shore and Manhattan; Port Richmond and Bayonne; and the East Shore and Manhattan.

76. Sept. 18, 1704 Justices of Peace build first jail in Cocclestown (Richmond) and unwittingly take first step in establishing the county's seat of government. The site is chosen primarily for its central location. Soon, a church, a second jail, and a courthouse spring up in the area.

75. 1854 B. Kreischer & Co., one of the nation's earliest and largest brick manufacturers, opens a factory in Kreischerville (Charleston). Kreischer starts out building bricks in Manhattan using New Jersey clay. But in 1873, when city property becomes far too valuable for manufacturing, he begins building a larger plant along the Arthur Kill between Rossville and Tottenville. His Manhattan factory is razed to make way for tenements.

74. January 1963 The last of Staten Island's great brewers, Piel's Brothers Inc. in Stapleton, closes. Known as Piel's only during the last decade of its existence, the brewery was once called Rubsam and Horrmann, a cornerstone since the late 19th century of the borough's world-renowned beer industry.

73. June 21, 1912 Abel Kiviat of Stapleton wins a silver medal for the 1,500-meter run and a gold medal as a member of the five-man 3,000-meter shuttle team, at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. The Curtis High School track star qualifies for the U.S. team by setting a world record in the 1,500-meter run at the age of 20. He is the only Islander ever to win an Olympic medal.

72. May 27, 1794 Cornelius Vanderbilt, later called the Commodore, the famed shipping and railroad magnate who built a transportation empire starting with a sail-powered ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan, is born on the North Shore. A few years later, the Vanderbilts move to a mansion they had built in Stapleton, which stood at the present site of the former Paramount Theater on Bay Street.

71. April 22, 1948 New York City's first drive-in theater opens on a 15-acre site along Richmond Avenue in New Springville. Called simply The Drive-In Theater, the popular movie-watching place closes in 1965, replaced by a plush single-screen movie theater called The Island and a strip mall.

70. Sept. 1, 1858 Angry mobs from New Brighton and Edgewater (Stapleton) torch the Marine Hospital Quarantine in Tompkinsville, where immigrants with infectious diseases are held. From the outset, the community oppose establishment of a quarantine on Staten Island. But after a number of local cases of yellow fever are confirmed, citizens take action and the riot makes national headlines. Later, new quarantine stations are built on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands.

69. Early 1850s new German immigrants open a number of breweries in Stapleton, Clifton and Castleton Corners. Attracted by the fresh-water springs and the cool caves in the surrounding hillsides that offer ideal storage, the brewery and beer garden business thrives for decades. By the late 1870s, the Island supports eight breweries, employing more than 360 men and producing more than 160,000 barrels of beer valued at nearly $1.5 million annually.

68. July 1, 1892 Staten Island's first trolley line opens, running between Port Richmond and Meiers Corners. Trolleys, which cost only a nickel a ride through most of their existence, help facilitate mass transit across the Island by reaching communities not serviced by trains. The city replaced the borough's trolley lines in the early 1930s with buses.

67. October 25, 1905 Rising concerns about the poor conditions of boats and a lack of safety for passengers prompts New York City to assume control over the Staten Island Ferry, which has been operating as a private venture since its inception nearly 100 years earlier.

66. July 14, 1863 Extreme mob violence, which began days earlier in Manhattan, spreads to Staten Island in what is now called the Civil War draft riots. When conscription laws are enacted with loopholes for the affluent, the actual draftees are overwhelmingly poor Irish immigrants. In protest, houses in Stapleton owned by blacks, who are widely viewed as responsible for the war, are torched and blacks hunted down and beaten. Conservative estimates include five Island deaths, but the toll is much higher in Manhattan.

65. March 15, 1937 The Staten Island Coach Company replaces trolley service with the first bus service from St. George to Tottenville and overhead electric trolley lines and roadbed trolley tracks begin to disappear from the landscape. The city takes over bus service from several private companies in 1947.

64. Early 1863 Land developers Cornelius Kolff and Louis Kaufmann open a realty business. The pair is ultimately responsible for 36 residential developments, ushering in a new housing boom that extends into the 1920s. They also are instrumental in founding the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce in 1895.

63. Aug. 29, 1964 In a nationally televised championship game, Mid-Island Little League beats Monterrey of Mexico 4-0 to win Little League World Series. To cap things off, Pitcher Dan Yaccarino tosses a no-hitter.

62. Jan. 21, 1856 Staten Island Historical Society is chartered to collect, preserve and exhibit the artifacts and culture of Richmodn County. In 1958, the society contracts with the city to develop and maintain Historic Richmond Town, New York City's only "living" historic village.

61. May 2, 1906 St. George emerages as Staten Island's new civic center when Borough Hall is dedicated. The Beaux Arts-style structure, by the prominent architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings, the same team who designed the 42nd Street Library in Manhattan and the first public library in Tottenville, is made of brick and limestone with a distinctive clock tower overlooking New York Harbor.

60. Feb. 6, 1899 Staten Island's first public library opens in Tottenville, a gift of Andrew Carnegie, who only requires that the community provide the land and the annual upkeep. Designed by the noted architectural team of Carrere and Hastings, who also built the 42nd Street Library in Manhattan, the library is conceived by a local women's club and a men's club, which had been operating a library from a private home.

59. June 13, 1889 Staten Island is connected to the mainland with the opening of the first railroad bridge, a masonry structure which spans the Arthur Kill from Howland Hook to Elizabeth. The railroad link is later demolished to make way for the Goethals Bridge.

58. May 25, 1917 The first local draft board opens for World War I. Richmond gives more men to the war effort per capita than any other county in the United States. Of the 5,000 Islanders who serve, more than 160 are killed in action.

57. July 2-3, 1776 9,000 British troops under Gen. William Howe land here to the great pleasure of pro-king Islanders. The Loyalists burn about 40 pounds of Continental paper money in a huge bonfire, and Howe establishes his headquarters in New Dorp, which attracts pro-British sympathizers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. One week later, another 20,000 British arrive in 100 ships, upping the troop-to-Islander ratio 10-to-1.

56. March 20, 1874 Lawn tennis is introduced in the United States after Staten Islander Mary Ewing Outerbridge brings the sport back from a winter trip to Bermuda. The first court in America is set up on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club in St. George. By 1880, tennis is so popular that the first National Lawn Tennis Tournament is held at the same club.

55. 1920s A series of devastating fires - taking hundreds of concession stands and a number of popular hotels - cripple Midland Beach's reputation as a favored resort destination for city-weary Manhattanites. The beach resort era here is finally sealed by the Great Depression and encroaching water pollution.

54. Oct. 1, 1831 Staten Island's first hospital, the Seaman's Retreat, opens with 40 patients in Clifton. The facility, specifically dedicated to the care of seamen only, is built on a 40-acre site at Bay Street and Vanderbilt Avenue (present home of the Sisters of Charity Medical Center, Bayley Seton Campus).

53. Jan. 8, 1851 Staten Island's first public hospital, the Samuel R. Smith infirmary, opens in Tompkinsville. The castle-like structure is named for Dr. Samuel Russell Smith, a local physician who practiced from 1828 until his death in 1851. In 1917, the fast-growing medical facility is renamed Staten Island Hospital, which eventually evolves into Staten Island University Hospital.

52. Early 1920s A 35-percent population increase and expectations of bridges to New Jersey and a tunnel to Brooklyn ignite a building boom as thousands of colonial revival homes are built. The city prepares for increased auto traffic by building a major north-south artery which is named for Mayor John Hylan, whose policies brought money for sewers and roads to the Island.

51. June 10, 1936 the Staten Island Zoo in West Brighton opens, with an extensive collection of reptiles that soon establishes the animal park as one of the best small zoos in the world. Six years later, the zoo hires the nation's first woman zoo veterinarian, Dr. Patricia Halloran, who later establishes the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

50. March 17, 1886 Elizabeth Alice Austen is born to a prominent Rosebank family. Ms. Austen, a pioneer woman photographer who chronicles late 19th-century life on Staten Island and the streets of New York, records her work on more than 7,000 glass-plate negatives. The 1929 stock market crash plunges her into poverty; she lives most of her last years at the Sea View Farm Colony for the poor, until her story and images are sold to Life magazine in 1951, eight months before her death.

49. March 1956 Staten Island community College opens in St. George as the borough's first City University of New York (CUNY) institution. In 1965, Richmond College opens a separate St. George campus for CUNY students desiring to complete a four-year degree program. The two institutions merge in 1976, forming the College of Staten Island in Sunnyside, where the community college had relocated earlier. In 1993, CSI begins to move to its Willowbrook campus.

48. June 1973 New York City rescues Sailor's Snug Harbor in Livingston from demolition and possible future housing development by acquiring the site as the borough's new cultural center. Extensive renovations are needed to save their Greek Revival structures and other historic buildings, which fell into disrepair as its population of retired seamen dwindled.

47. October 1907 Proctor & Gamble opens a factory in Port Ivory, Mariners Harbor, producing more than 1 million cases of Ivory and Lenox soap bars a year. For more than 80 years, the local P&G plant produces soap and detergent shipped around the nation and employed thousands.

46. April 13, 1670 American Indians cede all claims to Staten Island to the English in a deed to Gov. Francis Lovelace. The move comes six years after English soldiers conquer New Netherlands by claiming ownership of entire "northern" territory previously discovered by John Cabot, including Staten Island. The deed ends decades of violence between native Lenape Indians and European Settlers.

45. July 4, 1827 End of slavery in New York state is celebrated at Swan Hotel, West Brighton. Rooms at the hotel were reserved months in advance as local abolitionists and prominent free blacks prepared for the festivities. Speeches, pageants, picnics, and fireworks mark the occasion. The celebrating continues for two days.

44. Feb. 9, 1904 Big city educational amenities come to Staten Island when the borough's first high school building, Curtis in St. George, opens. Named after famed writer George W. Curtis, who lived nearby, Curtis is the city's first Collegiate Gothic school house and the only city high school landmarked both inside and out.

43. 1831 Capt. Robert Richard Randall, a wealthy ship owner who parlayed his father's privateering fortune into extensive Manhattan real estate holdings, establishes Sailor's Snug Harbor in Livingston as a haven for aging seamen. The sprawling, self-contained retirement community features a number of classic Greek Revival structures, and includes a lavish church and music hall. The facility deteriorates as the population dwindles. In 1973, the city acquires Snug Harbor as the borough's cultural center.

42. July 30, 1871 A boiler explodes on the Westfield II ferry on a Sunday afternoon as hundreds of beach-bound Manhattanites board. Sixty-six people are killed immediately in the blast and resulting inferno and stampede, or drown in the roiling water. More than 200 passengers are burned, scalded by steam, maimed by flying debris; more than 60 die later from their injuries. The accident stands as the Staten Island Ferry's worst disaster.

41. Oct. 18, 1995 The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the first Island span to acept EZPass, an electronic toll-taking system that eliminates the need for cash or tokens. Nearly 11,000 Islanders sign up for the discounted toll service in the weeks leading up to its institution.

40. 1839 The Island's first Catholic parish, St. Peter's, is established in New Brighton, 50 years after the Roman Catholic Church is incorporated in the City of New York. The parish includes all of Richmond County and parts of New Jersey. The church building, dedicated 10 years after, is later destroyed by fire. The present St. Peter's Church is erected in 1903.

39. 1830s Former slaves from Staten Island, Manhattan and New Jersey and free black oystermen and women from Maryland and Virginia begin settling at Sandy Ground, near present-day Woodrow and Rossville. The district, which is the nation's oldest free black community with descendants of the original founders still living there, flourishes as a center of economic and social life for blacks living along the Eastern Seaboard.

38. March 20, 1986 Congestion on the Staten Island Expressway from cars and trucks backing up to pay the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll eastbound is finally eased when congressman Guy V. Molinari, with the backing of Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, secures - at least until 2001 - the one-way toll as part of a federal highway law. Almost immediately, opponents launch a battle to reinstitute the two-way toll, arguing it increases traffic in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

37. April 20, 1963 Black Saturday: Three brush fires - one starting in Rossville, one in Tottenville and another in Mariners Harbor - destroy 100 houses, leave more than 500 homeless. The fires cause more than $2 million in damage and level many of the historic houses in the Sandy Ground community.

36. Feb. 10, 1973 An empty liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank in Bloomfield explodes, killing 40 workers cleaning the inside. The incident, which stands as the borough's worst industrial accident ever, energizes local opposition to filling larger tanks, in Rossville, with the gas. The tanks are never filled, ending a 13-year battle against the plan.

35. June 25, 1946 A nine-alarm blaze consumes the St. George Ferry Terminal, crippling Staten Island's main public transportation hub. Three people are killed, 280 are injured and 17 trains are destroyed in the inferno. There are no ferries between Manhattan and Brooklyn for two days, until a contingency plan is put into effect. A new terminal opens five years later.

34. June 1860 First magnetic telegraph line reaches Staten Island, 16 years after Congress builds the first line from Washington to Baltimore and the now immortal message - "What hath God wrought?" - is flashed over the wire. Telegraph systems spread quickly across the nation after 1856, when a sounding key helps facilitate transmissions.

33. Nov. 29, 1883 Child-care pioneer Rev. John Christopher Drumgoole, an Irish immigrant ordained at 53, founds St. Vincent's Home for Homeless Newsboys after arriving at Mount Loretto. His 524-acre seaside farm, which opens a home for girls soon after his death in 1888, evolves into one of the city's foremost child-care institutions.

32. Sept. 11, 1776 On the heels of the American defeat in the Battle of Long Island, British Gen. William Howe meets with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge to offer clemency in return for surrender at the home of loyalist Lt. Col. Christopher Billopp in Tottenville. The first attempt at peace talks between British officials and Americans at what is now called the Conference House ends in failure as the British refuse to consider independence.

31. July 9, 1776 Some 500 Staten Island men, in a formal bid to solidify their loyalty to the British crown, sign an oath of allegiance to the King of England on the same day New York receives word of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

30. March 8, 1886 St. George emerges as Staten Island's transportation hub after a single terminal combines rail and ferry service. The concept is the brainchild of Erastus Wiman, an amusement promoter who works endlessly to attract potential customers to his huge entertainment spectacles that include lavish restaurants and big league baseball in St. George and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Erastina (Mariners Harbor).

29. July 4, 1976 Thousands line Island shores to watch a parade of tall ships enter New York Harbor as Operation Sail celebrates the nation's bicentennial.

28. Oct. 17, 1827 First edition of Staten island's first newspaper, The Richmond Republican, goes on sale. Printed in Manhattan, the Republican is edited by Charles N. Baldwin from an office in Tompkinsville. The four-page weekly remains the county's only newspaper for three years.

27. Oct. 25, 1917 Water from the Ashokan reservoir reaches the Silver Lake reservoir after traveling three days from the Catskills. The new water supply, which for the first time connects the borough to the new York City water system, supplements wells and springs already feeding the reservoir.

26. June 20, 1999 Professional baseball returns to the borough as the Staten Island Yankees win their home opener at the College of Staten Island. The Single A, New York-Penn League team is expected to play at the college until a 6,500-seat waterfront ball park is built in St. George.

25. Aug. 20, 1661 After years of failed colonizataion attempts - primarily due to murderous conflicts with native Lenape Indians - 19 Dutch and French colonists form first permanent European settlement on Staten Island at Oude Dorp (now South Beach).

24. Nov. 1, 1683 Staten Island is named Richmond County after the Duke of Richmond, Charles II's illegitimate son, as English gain permanent control over the territories surrounding New York Harbor. Earlier in the year, Gov. Thomas Dongan takes office and during his tenure personally acquires large tracts of land here for hunting and other recreation.

23. Dec. 16, 1960 The worst U.S. air accident to date occurs over Staten Island when TWA Flight 266 from Dayton, Ohio, bound for La Guardia, collides in a heavy snowstorm with United Flight 825 from Chicago bound for Idlewild (now Kennedy) Airport. The TWA Constellation, with 40 passengers and a crew of five, breaks up and falls in three sections on the landing strip of Miller Field, narrowly missing houses and two schools. The United jet, with 76 passengers and a crew of seven, flies a few miles before falling into the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. All 128 people aboard the two aircraft die.

22. 1882 Electricity arrives on Staten Island when the American Linoleum Manufacturing Co. illuminates its Travis plant. The community is called Linoleumville because American Linoleum is the first plant in the United States to manufacture the new floor-covering product made from linseed oil, cork and burlap. The hugely successful plant employs more than 200 workers, and a village springs up nearby to house their families.

21. Nov. 15, 1931 Staten Island's third car bridge and its only pedestrian-accessible span, the Bayonne, opens, making permanent the long-standing connection between Elm Park and Bergen Point. The span, one of the longest steel-arch bridges in the world, is designed by Othmar H. Amman - who will later build the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge - and is immediately lauded for its beauty. Despite being named a National Historical Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1985, the bridge remains the least-used of the four Island spans.

20. March 27, 1886 Richmond County Advance, precursor to the Staten Island Advance, hits the newsstands. The four-page weekly, one of 10 papers published on the Island at the time, targets middle-class residents interested in promoting and improving their Island home. Circulation is under 1,000.

19. Dec. 18, 1964 The new York City Board of Estimate votes unanimously to establish a park stretching from New Dorp to Sea View, termed the "greenelt" by Borough President Al Maniscalco, as a natural preserve. Over the next 35 years, environmentalists fought hard for the demapping of the Richmond and Willowbrook parkways and the inclusion of more properties in the protected area that will eventually include over 2,800 acres in the center of the Island.

18. Nov. 12, 1913 Sea View Hospital opens, and quickly becomes the nation's foremost tuberculosis treatment facility. By the 1950s, the city facillity is treating as many as 2,000 TB patients at a time. The hospital's staff, led by Dr. Edward H. Robitzek, is instrumental in developing and dispensing new drugs to cure the disease. The doctor wins worldwide acclaim and is honored with one of the nation's most prestigious medical prizes.

17. April 23, 1860 Nearly a decade after it is incorporated, the Staten Island Railroad Company's first passenger train leaves Eltingville for Vanderbilt's Landing (Clifton). The Island's first railroad provides residents of southern communities a quick, direct link to Manhattan-bound ferries at the landing.

16. July 4, 1997 After nearly a century of charging for a ride, the city abolishes the Staten Island Ferry's fare, which doubled to 50 cents in 1991. Free ferry rides are part of the introduction of the electronic MetroCard, which finally offers free transfers from Island buses and the Staten Island Railway to buses and subways in Manhattan.

15. Nov. 3, 1993 After years of study and debate, 65 percent of Staten Islanders vote to secede from New York City. But the initiative is stalled in the Democrat-controlled state Assembly, where Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan decrees the bill must be accompanied by a home-rule message from the Democrat-controlled City Council, which is unwilling to pave the way for the break-up of the city.

14. 1958 Richmondtown Restoration - now known as Historic Richmond Town - is established, creating New York City's only "living" historic village. The 96-acre site offers visitors a look into the borough's past by visiting 28 historical buildings - 10 on their original sites. The Voorlezer's House (circa 1696) is the nation's oldest existing school building.

13. March 31, 1816 The Island gets its first highway when the Richmond Turnpike Company forms to hasten travel between New York and Philadelphia. The company, with the full support of Gov. Daniel Tompkins, an Islander who helped develop Tompkinsville, builds an Island-long thoroughfare linking Tompkinsville to Travis. It later became Victory Boulevard.

12. Oct. 3, 1951 Islander Bobby Thomson hits "the shot heard 'round the world" to win the National League pennant for the New York Giants over their hated rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. For five seasons (1949-1953), Thomson, arguably the best Islander to play in the majors, led the Giants in homers hitting more than teammate Willie Mays. In 1949, he trailed only Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson in the National League in hits (198), and was fourth in home runs (27).

11. April 1524 Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano is first European to pass through the Narrows. Verrazano sails La Dauphine for King Francis I of France, hoping to find new trade routes to the rich markets of Asia. Verrazano first touches the American coast at North Carolina and then sails north to Newfoundland. His report to the king contains the first description of the northeastern coast of North America and gives France its claim to American lands.

10. 1971 Advance reporter Jane Kurtin exposes horrendous conditions at Willowbrook State School in a series of articles in 1971. Soon after, an ambitious but relatively unknown Geraldo Rivera brings the story to the national consciousness, launching his career in TV journalism and leading to the eventual closing of the institution.

9. Aug. 9, 1973 Mall mania hits the borough as the Staten Island Mall opens. Many Islanders opt to shop at "name" retail outlets, abandoning aging mom-and-pop retail centers such as Stapleton and Port Richmond. Owned now by the Rouse company of Columbia, Md., among the nation's largest shopping-center developers, the mall today has about 185 retail stores employing some 3,000 people.

8. April 16, 1948. Despite years of community opposition, a "two-year" landfill opens in the marshlands at Fresh Kills. Widespread complaints about odor are registered by angry residents as early as 1949. In 1952, the city announces the landfill will close by 1960. More than 40 years and 3,000 acres later, Staten Island has the unsavory reputation as home of the world's largest garbage dump. After setting a number of closing dates over the decades, public officials recently have set Dec. 31, 2001, as the end of the landfill.

7. June 10, 1918. The weekly Richmond County Advance begins publishing Monday through Saturday as The Daily Advance. Three years later, the paper's name is changed to the Staten Island Advance. In 1922, the Advance is purchased by Samuel I. Newhouse, a budding media tycoon who parlays the floundering paper into a profitable newspaper group and other media ventures.

6. Nov. 29, 1817. Staten Island's first steam ferry service inaugurated between Whitehall in Manhattan and Tompkinsville ushers in the modern era of traversing our waters. Within years, luxury ferries begin transorting wealty Island entrepreneurs to businesses in the city for a whopping 12 1/2 cents one way (more than $3 in today's money).

5. June 20, 1928. The Island's traditional ties to New Jersey are made concrete when the Outerbridge Crossing and the Goethals Bridge open simultaneously, the first projects undertaken by the new Port Authority for New York and New Jersey. The bridges, similar in design, point the way to the future as they allow cars, but not trains, to cross the Kill van Kull.
CORRECTION from Thomas Flagg: "they do NOT cross the Kill van Kull! (that's the Bayonne Bridge). It's the ARTHUR KILL." Thanks!

4. Sept. 3, 1609 Seeking a water passage through the American continent to speed trade with Asia, Dutch explorer Henry Hudson, sailing the Half Moon for the Dutch East India Company, sights a large island and names it Staaten Eyelandt, after the Dutch legislative body. Hudson's explorations leads to Dutch settlements of New Amsterdam (Manhattan) and Staten Island.

3. May 23, 1996 The state Senate unanimously passes legislation to force the closure of the Fresh Kills landfill - the largest dump in the world - by Dec. 31, 2001. The measure is spearheaded by Sen. John J. Marchi and Assemblyman Eric Vitaliano after an accord is reached on the closing by Borough President Guy V. Molinari, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki, and after then-Councilman Vito Fossella authors a similar bill in the City Council. The measure is handily passed by the state Assembly, carried by Island Assembly members Elizabeth Connelly, Vitaliano and Robert Straniere, the next day.

2. Jan. 21, 1898. Staten Island - along with the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens - joins New York City. In 1894, 73 percent of Islanders, hoping for improved services, voted for the initiative, the brainchild of Andrew Haswell Greene, called the "Father of Greater New York." Many local business leaders and land owners pushed hard for "consolidation," anticipating steep increases in real estate prices here.

1. Nov. 21, 1964 The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the largest suspension span in the world at the time, opens to traffic on Nov. 21, 1964. For better or worse, the bridge, which for the first time tangibly links the Island with the rest of New York City via Brooklyn, forever changes the face of Staten Island by helping boost the local population a whopping 33 percent in the U.S. Census following its opening.

Mystery picture

This photo was taken during a 1902 trip which included Staten Island. Where was it?

Answer from Stephen Kent Ehat (THANKS!):
Your mystery photo is of Tomkinsville from Pavillion Hill. See: http://gettofixin.blogspot.com/2010/07/hortons-row-for-sale.html (circa 1885, Staten Island Historical Society Collection)

© 1999-2023 Updated on Sunday, 01-Aug-2021 18:21:35 PDT