New Brighton, Staten Island

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View of Brighton, Staten Island, New York, an 1857 engraving

New Brighton, formerly an independent village, is today a neighborhood located on the North Shore of Staten Island in New York City, USA. The neighborhood comprises an older industrial and residential harbor front area along the Kill Van Kull west of St. George.

The village of New Brighton was incorporated in 1866 out of six wards of the town of Castleton. It originally stretched for four miles (6.4 km) long and was two miles (3.2 km) wide, encompassing the entire northeast tip of the island from Tompkinsville to Snug Harbor. The current neighborhood includes Hamilton Park, an enclave of Victorian homes built before the American Civil War. The neighborhood includes several older churches, including St. Peter's Church, the oldest Roman Catholic church on Staten Island. The original Village Hall, constructed in 1871 on present Fillmore Street, was demolished in 2004.

New Brighton has the Cassidy-Laffayette Houses, and public housing on Jersey Street (Richmond Terrace Houses).

Contents

History

Village Hall

Built in 1871, it was one of the few Village Halls to remain from the old village system the existed before it was considered to be a part of New York City. In 1898, the villages were incorporated into New York City and the Village Halls were no longer needed as politics became more centralized into the city and they became just one of many under the borough of Staten Island. It has since been used as a local court, a health insurance office, youth activities office, and doctor’s office. In 1965 the Landmarks Preservation Commission selected it as an official landmark. It was demolished in 2004.

Incorporation of New Brighton

A passage from an anonymous author in an Illustrated Sketch Book of Staten Island, NY: Its industries and commerce, from 1886, describes New Brighton as follows:

The village of New Brighton is unique in its attractiveness. Its public buildings, churches, hotels and institutions are all handsome and substantial, its residences the perfection of refined taste; it has fifteen miles (24 km) of streets, the principal of which are wide, well paved, and generally well shaded with ornamental trees. A complete system of sewerage has been adopted. The inhabitants are filled with a sense of local pride which is in itself most commendable and leads to the happiest results, the most noticeable of which perhaps is the great care bestowed upon their private residences. The neighbors seem to vie with each other in friendly emulation as to who shall keep the smoothest lawn, the neatest fence or the most graceful fountain.

As a whole, the effect is most pleasing, but when the eye wanders beyond the artificial beauty of its immediate surroundings and rests upon the sparkling waters of the incomparable Bay of New York, with stretches of cultivated landscape in the distance, the picture is singularly lovely and complete.

Although Staten Island as a whole remained largely residential and less densely populated and developed than the surrounding region, the inhabitants of the region favored consolidation with the greater metropolis. In 1898, Staten Island was consolidated with New York City, and this move accelerated development of the region. At this time immigrant groups settled in New Brighton in greater numbers; Italians and African-Americans along the Kill Van Kull, and Jewish communities on the eastern boundary of the village near St. George and Tompkinsville. Jackson, Kenneth T., Ed. The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995. P. 1114

20th Century

After the turn of the century, the political and economic center of the island shifted to the northern shore, including New Brighton. The construction of a new civic center and borough hall in St. George provided the impetus for improvements in infrastructure, including road construction, police and fire protection, and two commuter airports, each of which were first established in the 20th century. Navy and Coast Guard outposts could be found on the north shore of Staten Island, each employing local residents in military and civilian capacities. The Staten Island borough hall was built in 1906, while the new courthouse for Richmond county was built in 1919. Jackson, Kenneth T., Ed. The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995. P. 1114

At this time, the general community of Staten Island and New Brighton thrived due to its economy. Larger manufacturers employed many local residents; Procter & Gamble, US Gibson, and several other factories provided jobs for thousands of residents. The Procter & Gamble factory, opened in October 1907, operated for more than 80 years. At the end of the 1920s, some of the borough’s first apartment buildings and four-family dwellings were concentrated in New Brighton.

However, the livelihood of the community began to change, first after the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and compounded by the economic downturn of the 1970s. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, completed in November 1964, connected Brooklyn and Staten Island and allowed for a massive population and development boom that continues to this day. This, combined with the closing of many area factories, the construction of housing projects along Richmond Terrace and the surrounding area, and an increase in area poverty, have created an area that has changed so drastically. While crime has increased to an extent in the area, New Brighton remains a vibrant neighborhood that contains many historic attractions, as well as a place of community that is dedicated to improving and reviving the area. NYPL Timeline of Staten Island <http://www.nypl.org/branch/staten/index2.cfm?Trg=1&d1=962&template=timeline5>

Attractions

Snug Harbor

Sailor's Snug Harbor was built in 1833 by a wealthy New Yorker named Robert Richard Randall. Designed as a place for retired sailors, Snug Harbor was the first establishment of its kind in the United States. The 83-acre (340,000 m2) park-like setting is located right on the north shore of Staten Island along the Kill Van Kull.

The original buildings in Snug Harbor were built in the elegant Greek revival style, but later buildings incorporated a variety of styles: Beaux Arts, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire, and Italianate styles. Notably, Captain Thomas Melville, the brother of Hermann Melville (the author of Moby Dick), was the governor of Snug Harbor from 1867 to 1884.

Snug Harbor was very successful, and was one of the wealthiest charities. At its peak, 1,000 sailors made their home at Snug Harbor. However, there was a steep decline in funding for the retirement home in the 1930s, with the establishment of Social Security, and Snug Harbor never fully recovered, closeing in the 1960s. After the closure, there was competition for the land between developers and the locals who wanted to save the property. In the late 1960s, the newly formed New York City Landmarks Commission intervened, designating that site a Historic Landmark and laying the groundwork for converting the land into a cultural center for public usage.

The site is now called Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens and has gardens, museums, theaters, educational spaces, and special events. It works in collaboration with the Smithsonian to bring a variety of unique programming to an underappreciated spot.

George Way, a contributor to the Museum and an expert in Dutch furniture, explained that Snug Harbor is a struggling gem that should be more successful. On a visit to the site, Mr. Way was there for the day checking in on his prominent period furniture exhibit, entitled "Dutch Treats," and he described his dedication to the location. A Staten Island resident, Mr. Way saved some special pieces to be displayed at Snug Harbor—even though his pieces are in high demand at a number of city museums, given 2009's importance as the 400th anniversary of Dutch explorer Henry Hudson's discovery of New York. Mr. Way exemplified the local camaraderie seemingly felt on the island for Snug Harbor and other culturally significant sites. One of the Center’s employees also discussed her passion for Staten Island and her hope that Snug Harbor could bring more success to the Island. While proudly wearing her Staten Island shirt, she expressed disappointment in Staten Island's inability to lure people out of the Ferry terminal, despite her confidence that Snug Harbor is an extraordinary historical site.http://www.snug-harbor.org/history.html

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Peter's Cathedral

The first weekly mass of the St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church was held in 1839 in an unlikely location: a gun factory in New Brighton. The original Catholic congregation was about 100 people. Unsurprisingly, the gun factory quickly became unsuitable for services, and the New Brighton Association donated land for the church. The new church opened in 1844, not far from where it is today on St. Mark's Place.

In 1853, the Sisters of Charity arrived and established a school in the church's basement that taught both boys and girls at a primary school level, as well as girls at the high school level. These classes were the foundations of the St. Peter's schools that are still located and functioning in New Brighton.

In 1891, Reverend Terrence J. Early arrived as the pastor for St. Peter's and decided that the church needed a larger building. He wanted the layout to be reversed while also making the entire church longer and wider. Without building an entirely new structure, he moved the main entrance onto St. Mark's Place. A fire destroyed the original building in the early 1890s, allowing for the current building to be built on the same spot. The new church, designed by the firm Harding and Gooch in the neo-Romanesque style, was directly overseen during construction by Reverend Early. The cornerstone was laid in 1901, and in 1902 construction began on the upper portion. During this time, the parishioners were forced to worship in the basement until the construction was completed in 1903.

The interior of the church has influence from the French-Gothic style, visible in its vaulted ceilings that are curved and end in a point at the top. This unique arch structure enables the ceilings to be made high without needing interior supports. Today, St. Peter's Church is a gorgeous building that can be seen from almost anywhere in New Brighton, and one that stands out while approaching Staten Island on the ferry.http://www.preserve.org/stgeorge/stpeter.htm

W.S. Pendleton Houses

22 Pendleton Place

The W.S. Pendleton House at 22 Pendleton Place is a designated landmark of New York City. It was officially recognized by the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation in 1989. Built in 1855, this Gothic Revival style house is a fine example of Victorian Romanticism. The structure possesses a distinctive individuality, with its square, spire-topped tower, steeply pitched gables, pendant scrollwork, asymmetrically placed dormers, bay windows and oriel. Both houses were once owned by W.S. Pendleton, a prominent local businessman who worked in real estate and owned a local ferry boat company.

Creative Photographer's Guild

The Creative Photographer's Guild is a non-profit organization that creates beautiful and interesting photographic exhibits. It was formed in 2005 by a group of Staten Island photographers who wished to create an organization that went beyond that of the triditional camera club. Its mission is to encourage the understanding and appreciation of photography as a modern visual language and a true art form. In 2009 CPG Gallery was established. George Roos, co-founder and past president (2005–09) of the Guild, had been renting the space for use as his studio. Upon retirement he offered it to CPG for the purpose of creating the CPG Gallery. At present CPG Gallery is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 pm. The Gallery is located on Tyson St. right off Richmond Terrace, across from Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Approximately ten exhibits are held each year with openings for each exhibit.

Creative Photographers' Guild is a 501c3 non profit corporation which has received several grants and has conducted a number of outreach programs for the benefit of the Staten Island community. In addition to exhibits at the CPG Gallery the group has shown its work at other venues such as Wagner College,St John's University, The Greenbelt Nature Center, St. George Library and has participated in the annual "Art at the Ferry" event.

Atlantic Salt Company

The Atlantic Salt Company is located along Richmond Terrace and stores salt that is used to remove ice from roads in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Walking along Richmond Terrace, the many hills of white salt can be glimpsed along the side of the road. During the winter, over 350,000 tons of salt are stored at this New Brighton location. The Atlantic Salt Co. purchased its current location in 1976, a gypsum corporation plant owned and used the property. The Atlantic Salt Co. is family-run and operated by the Mahoney family; the first generation, headed by founder and former president Leo Mahoney, started the business in 1955. It has been successfully growing since then.

Atlantic Salt prides itself in taking a vested interest in improving the community. In August 2009, the company cleared out their miles of salt stockpiles in order to host a free celebration, giving back to the people of Staten Island. The company is also in the process of investing money along the shore to clean up and get rid of some of the buildings that are unable to be restored. The company has recently revealed plans to create a walking and biking path along Richmond Terrace, which would help create a path from the Staten Island Ferry to Snug Harbor, an important cultural site located right beyond the Atlantic Salt Company. http://www.silive.com/northshore/index.ssf/2009/10/atlantic_salt_co_a_successful.html

September 11 Memorial

September 11 Memorial

This large mural, painted by a local artist who paints under the name FWID, adorns the side of the warehouse on Richmond Terrace where Gerardi's Farmer Market is located. The three firefighters raising the American Flag in the center of the image strike a pose that is reminiscent of the historic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal.

Farmer's Market

Gerardi's Farmers Market

Gerardi's Farmer Market, a local market on Richmond Terrace. The market is a good place to stop by and pick up a snack on the way back to the ferry. The Farmer's Market carries fresh and local produce year-round for the residents of New Brighton.

Notable inhabitants

Transportation

New Brighton is served by the S40/90 and S44/94 along Richmond Terrace, Laffayette Avenue, and Jersey Street. It is also served by the S46, S48, S61, S62, S66 buses on Victory Boulevard. The hill on St Marks Place is served by the S52 7 days per week and the S42 during weekday rush hours and evenings. It was served by the Staten Island Railway's New Brighton station until March 31, 1953.

See also

Coordinates: 40°38′33″N 74°05′36″W / 40.6425°N 74.09333°W / 40.6425; -74.09333

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