Questions from Mexico…

Questions from Mexico…

A journalist from Mexico recently contacted me regarding Staten Island. He asked me what made the borough different from the rest of New York City? He also wanted to know what the island and the other boroughs had in common? A book could be written in answer to his questions, but this was my response. Please let me know what you think should be added? Staten Island is different from the rest of New York City for a number of reasons. The borough is a bedroom community that is, for the most part, financially dependent on the City of New York. Many of the island’s residents work and commute to Manhattan, and to a lesser extent, the other boroughs. Many inhabitants are employed on “Wall Street” in the Financial District. Others work in mid-town, while vast...

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Remarkable Italian Folk Art on Staten Island…

Remarkable Italian Folk Art on Staten Island…

A remarkable example of Italian religious folk art and culture has been lovingly developed in Rosebank. Located on a quaint, dead-end lane “The Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel” is a peaceful grotto that all should visit. Catholic or not, the setting evokes a sense of amazement and emotion when one sees the devotional setting that now exists at this location. “The Shrine of our Lady of Mount Carmel” is located on Amity Street, just off of Saint Mary’s Avenue. In the past, the Catholic poor of southern Italy were not entirely comfortable with the Catholic Church. They were suspicious of the church’s hierarchy and sometimes avoided worshipping in organized settings. Instead, secluded sanctuaries were created for religious devotions. Oftentimes, they were...

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Some Dark Days at the Old Plaster Mill…

Some Dark Days at the Old Plaster Mill…

People have suggested that my writings are, at times, somber. With books on cemeteries and murders I suppose I see their point. Of course, these books are from an historical perspective, not from an obsession with death. So, at the risk of verifying what some may think, here is a new blog that describes some dark days at the old plaster mill… But let’s start on a happy note… Who doesn’t love Gerardi’s on Richmond Terrace?  I know many people who are not only glad, but who are actually thrilled to see it open each spring. Fruits, vegetables, plants, shrubs… this business is truly a Staten Island display of sunny spring and summer days. But, the buildings on the grounds where Gerardi’s is located, well they do have a history… During the 1870’s the north and...

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Sandy Ground: A Brief Look Back

Sandy Ground: A Brief Look Back

From 1985 to 1993 I worked as a naturalist at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve in Charleston. Not only was the park a nature lover’s oasis, it was a location where history was obvious at every turn of the trail. Farming, clay mining, recreation in the form of horse-back riding, rodeos, target shooting, nature studies, and more were relative subjects to the history of both Charleston and neighboring Rossville. One nearby location that bordered the Park property was Sandy Ground. This community spoke to my “small town” childhood in Bulls Head before the invasion of mother/daughter houses in the mid-1960’s. Sandy Ground of the 1980’s was truly a look back in time. Farms, a nineteenth century church and cemetery, oystermen cottages, and even the remnants of the...

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What “Happened” Aboard the Staten Island Ferry?

Interesting events have occurred on, in, and around Staten Island for the past 350+ years. In researching our island during the 1960’s, I found an event that well represented the time period. It was a called “A Happening.” On September 29, 1967, cellist Charlotte Moorman created “A Happening” onboard the Staten Island ferryboat, John F. Kennedy. It was an avant-garde festival featuring modern art forms, musical groups, poetry readings, body painting, and much more. Capacity crowds took to the ferry to experience this special event. The press exclaimed that participants were hippies, but an examination of the images that accompanied the articles showed well dressed, average-looking youth who appeared more like 1950’s teenagers than stereotypical long-haired,...

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Ten More Plans, Proposals and Projects That Just Never Happened on Staten Island!

Ten More Plans, Proposals and Projects That Just Never Happened on Staten Island!

Yes! Here is another set of plans, proposals, and projects that were called for or suggested, but never came to completion. They are presented in no specific order. Dwell on them and leave some observations of your own. Preserve and re-open the Victory Diner at Midland Beach. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy effectively demolished both a plan to re-use this antique eating establishment and this antique eating establishment itself. A hydrofoil ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan was announced in the Staten Island Advance of October 7, 1966. A “jet age hydrofoil and hover-craft vessels” would run between Great Kills and South Ferry by the close of that year. The hydrofoils would make the twelve-mile trip in only fifteen minutes, while the hovercraft would zip to its...

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