Staten Island may not be nearly as busy as the other four boroughs of New York, but it is still a wonderful place to visit, work, and live. Staten Island is the least densely populated of all of the boroughs, because it was only directly connected to the rest of New York City upon the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964.
The highway which crosses the bridge from Staten Island into Brooklyn is known as the Staten Island Expressway. Staten Island is just over 100 square miles in area, making it the third largest borough by area, but Staten Island has nearly a million fewer people than the next-smallest borough, the Bronx.
Staten Island Demographics
Staten Island is decidedly more suburban than any other area of New York City. Before the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed, the island was still largely rural, with a population of less than 100,000. As the bridge was completed and it became much easier to travel from Staten Island to the other NYC boroughs, the population grew quite quickly.
Today, the area closest to the Verrazano Narrows bridge is markedly urban, but the further you extend away from the heart of New York City, the less densely populated the borough becomes. The western shore of Staten Island has the fewest people, and is highly industrial.
Staten Island: The Forgotten Borough
Staten Island has historically been referred to as The Forgotten Borough, because its citizens have often complained that the government of New York City has often been slow to meet the needs and demands of the residents. These sentiments reached their peak in the early 90s, when sixty five percent of the population voted to secede from New York City.
In the end, the New York State government denied Staten Island the right to home rule, but over the past twenty years, Staten Island has received a greater level of attention by city officials, especially after Rudy Giuliani won the race for New York City mayor in 1994 based largely off of his promise to listen to the needs of Staten Island Residents. Today, the desire for secession has waned tremendously.
The Beautiful Parks of Staten Island
One of the biggest advantages that Staten Island has over the rest of New York City is the large amount of park and forest land which is located throughout the borough. The largest area of these parks and forests is known as the Greenbelt.
In the 1960s, residents of Staten Island fought hard to preserve the wilderness areas of Staten Island, and successfully protected the vast green space, protecting it from development. The largest portion of the Greenbelt surrounds the neighborhood of New Springville, and the Greenbelt is also adjacent to the neighborhoods of Willowbrook and Richmondtown, among others.
The Staten Island Ferry
The most iconic feature of Staten Island is easily the Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry provides direct service from the Saint George Ferry Terminal to Manhattan, and the trip only takes around twenty five minutes.
Before the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed, this was the only way to get from Staten Island to the rest of New York.
The Staten Island Ferry has been active since 1905, and today, it ferries more than 21 million tourists and commuters from Staten Island to Manhattan every year. The Saint George Terminal was originally built in 1950. For a long time, travelers had to pay a fee to board the ferry, but since 1997, the ferry has been one hundred percent free to the public.
Points of Interest in Staten Island
St. George Theater – This ornate theater was built in 1928 by Solomon Brill, and was designed to hold 2,800 people. This beautiful theater is one of the most significant landmarks of the borough, and hosts concerts, plays, educational events, and a variety of other entertainment opportunities.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center – The neighborhood of Snug Harbor is most well-known for its large collection of large and beautiful Victorian Homes built in the 19th century. The Snug Harbor Cultural Center was designed to foster arts in the community of Staten Island, and hosts a wide variety of events for children as well as adults year-round. Snug Harbor also has a fantastic botanical garden.