Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Staten Island, New York

Staten Island is both the name of an island on the west side of the Hudson River at the entrance of New York Harbor as well as the name of the one of the five boroughs of New York City.

As an island, it is separated from Long Island by the Narrows and from mainland New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull.

It is connected to New Jersey by the Bayonne Bridge, the Outerbridge Crossing, the Goethals Bridge, and to Brooklyn by the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

The Staten Island Ferry connects the island to lower Manhattan. The Staten Island Railway traverses the island from its northeastern tip to its southwestern tip.

As an administrative division of New York City, the borough includes the island of Staten Island, as well as several minor unpopulated islands in lower New York Harbor, Newark Bay and the Arthur Kill.

The existence of the borough dates from unification of New York City in 1898. Until 1975, however, the borough was known formally as Richmond. The borough is coterminous with Richmond County, the southernmost county of New York State.

Except for the areas along the harbor, the borough was largely rural until the building of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964, which is the considered the watershed event in the history of the borough, since it opened up the island to explosive suburban development.

In the late 1960's the island was the site of important battles of open-space preservation, resulting in the largest area of parkland in New York City and an extensive Greenbelt that laces the island with woodland trails.

For the last half of the Twentieth Century, Staten Island was arguably best known for being the site of the Fresh Kills Landfill, a primary destination for garbage from the five boroughs of New York City and the largest single source of methane pollution in the world. The landfill was closed in early 2001 but was temporarily reopened later that year to receive the ruins of the World Trade Center disaster.

As by far the least populated, most ethnically homogeneous, and most remote borough of New York City, Staten Island is commonly the butt of jokes by residents of Manhattan as being somewhat enigmatic and rustically suburban.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Law and Government
3 Geography
4 Demographics
5 References
6 External links


Archelogical finds of hunting tools indicate that the island was inhabited as far back as 12,000 BCE. Permanent American Indian settlements and agriculture date from around 3000 BCE (Jackson, 1995).

In the 1500's, the island was inhabited by Algonquin peoples, specifically the Raritans and other related peoples of the Lenape tribe. To the Alqonquins, the island was called "Aquehonga Manacknong" and "Eghquaons" (Jackson, 1995).

The first recorded European contact with the island was in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazano who sailed through the Narrows. In 1609 Henry Hudson established Dutch trade in the area and named the island Staaten Eylandt (after the Dutch parliament, Staaten Generaal der Vereenigde Nederlanden).

Althought the first Dutch settlement of the New Netherlands colony was made on Manhattan in 1620, Staten Island remained uncolonized by the Dutch for many decades. From 1639 to 1655, the Dutch made three separate attempts to establish a permanent settlment on the island, but each time the settlement was destroyed in the conflicts between the Dutch and the Indians.

In 1661, the first permanent Dutch settlement was established at Oude Dorp (Dutch for "Old Town"), just south of the Narrows near South Beach, by a small group of Dutch Walloon and Huguenot families. Three years later, in 1664, the New Netherlands colony was ceded to England. Staten Island became part of the new English colony of New York.

In 1670, the Indians ceded all claims to Staten Island to the English in a deed to Gov. Francis Lovelace. In 1671, in order to encourage an expansion of the Dutch settlements, the English resurveyed Oude Dorp (which became known as Old Town) and expanded the lots along the shore to the south. These lots were settled primarily by Dutch and became known as Nieuwe Dorp (meaning "New Town"), which later became anglicized as New Dorp.

In 1683, the colony of New York was divided into ten counties. As part of this process, Staten Island, as well as several minor neighboring islands, were designated as Richmond County. The name derives from the title of James, the Duke of Richmond, the brother of Charles II, who was king at the time.

In 1687-1688, the English divided the island into four administrative divisions based on natural features, called the North, South, and West divisions, as well as the 5100-acre manorial estate of colonial governor Thomas Dongan in the central hills known as the "Lordship or Manner of Cassiltown." These divisions would later evolve into the four townships Northfield, Southfield, Westfield, and Castleton.

Land patents in rectangular blocks of eighty acres were granted, with the most desirable lands being along the coastline and inland waterways. By 1708, the entire island had been divided up through this fashion into 166 small farms and two large manorial estates, the Dongan estate as well as a 1600-acre parcel on the southwestern tip of the island belonging to Christopher Billop (Jackson, 1995).

In 1729, a county seat was established at the village of Richmondtown, located at the headwaters of the Fresh Kills near the center of the island.

The island played a signficant role in the American Revolution. In the summer of 1776, the British forces under William Howe evacuated Boston and prepared to attack New York City. Howe used the strategic location of Staten Island as a staging ground for the attack. Howe established his headquarters in New Dorp at the Rose and Crown tavern near the junction of present New Dorp Lane and Amboy Road. It is here that the representatives of the British government reportedly received their first notification of the Declaration of Independence.

The following month, in August 1776, the British forces crossed the Narrows to Brooklyn and routed the Americans forces under George Washington at the Battle of Long Island, resulting in the British capture of New York. Three weeks later, on September 11, 1776, the British received a delegation of Americans consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Edward Rutledge, and John Adams at the Conference House on the southwestern tip of the island on the former estate of Christopher Billop. The Americans refused the peace offer from the British in exchange for the withdrawl of the Declaration of Independence, however, and the conference ended without an agreement.

British forces remained on Staten Island throughout the war. Although local sentiment was predominatly Tory, the islanders found the demands of supported the troops to be onerous. Many buildings and churches were destroyed, and the military demand for resources resulted in an extensive deforestation of the island by the end of the war. The British again the island as a staging ground for their final evacuation of New York City on December 5, 1783. After the war, the largest Tory landowners fled to Canada and their estates were subdivided and sold.

In 1860, parts of Castleton and Southfield were made into a new town, Middletown. The Village of New Brighton in the town of Castleton was incorporated in 1866, and in 1872 the Village of New Brighton annexed all the remainder of the Town of Castleton and became coterminous with the town. All these towns and the villages within them were abolished in 1898 when the five-borough New York City was created and included Staten Island.

Law and Government

Like the other counties which are contained within New York City, there is no county government, there is no County Courts as in non-New York City counties, there is a Richmond County Supreme Court (of general jurisdiction), the Surrogate's Court and the New York City Civil Court, the last having a similar jurisdiction to New York State County Courts for disputes under $25,000, small claims and housing cases. Others state agencies such as the district attorney (public prosecutor) have offices as well as other government agencies.

Mercator projection: public domain Online Map Creation


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough / county has a total area of 265.5 km² (102.5 mi²). 151.5 km² (58.5 mi²) of it is land and 114.0 km² (44.0 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 42.95% water.

The borough of Staten Island properly comprises the following islands:

The highest point on the island, the summit of Todt Hill (elevation 410 ft.), is also the highest point in the five boroughs.


As of the
census of 2000, there are 443,728 people, 156,341 households, and 114,128 families residing in the borough / county. The population density is 2,929.6/km² (7,587.9/mi²). There are 163,993 housing units at an average density of 1,082.7/km² (2,804.3/mi²). The racial makeup is 77.60% White, 9.67% African American, 0.25% Native American, 5.65% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.14% from other races, and 2.65% from two or more races. 12.07% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 156,341 households out of which 35.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.0% are married couples living together, 13.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.0% are non-families. 23.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.78 and the average family size is 3.31.

The population is spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.6 males.

The median income for a household is $55,039, and the median income for a family is $64,333. Males have a median income of $50,081 versus $35,914 for females. The per capita income for the borough is $23,905. 10.0% of the population and 7.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 13.2% are under the age of 18 and 9.9% are 65 or older.


External links