Friday, November 2, 2012

Staten Island

 Staten is the borough of New York I know least.  In 20 years of living here, I've been through it maybe twice, in the back of a car heading from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and I didn't exactly stop to look around.  I've never once ridden the Staten Island Ferry.

Staten Island has always been a place apart in New York City.  It is the smallest borough in terms of population (but still bigger than Washington DC, Boston, or Miami).  Politically, it is usually the most conservative of the 5 Boroughs, though it's a nest of heathen lefties by Texas standards.  It used to be known as the "Cops and Robbers" Borough because so many NYPD cops lived out there next door to guys employed by the Mafia (sometimes the two groups were in the same family).  There are affluent suburban neighborhoods on the island, not so affluent working class neighborhoods, housing projects, and even some farms.  The southern part of the island is still very rural.

As the sun rises on New York City after Sandy, it turns out that the borough that took the biggest hit was Richmond, aka Staten Island.  At the moment, the official death toll city wide is 37.  Staten Island accounts for 19 of those dead.  The Island was completely unprepared for the unprecedented storm surge that swept through it, demolishing houses or sweeping them off of their foundations.

Usually residents of Staten Island are content to be ignored, but not now.  Spare a little thought and prayer for the Island and give generously to the Red Cross.


JCF said...

I've never once ridden the Staten Island Ferry.


Where my ex and I first kissed (Le Sigh). The best value cheap date in the Tri-State area, IMO. [OK, that and Central Park. CP was our first date, SIF our second.]

Hang in there, Staten Island. Big (Federal) Government is pretty awesome when you need it, huh? There's a Party for that.

M.McShea said...

I am sorry that you do not understand Staten Island. Few tourists have the courage to walk out of the ferry terminal in St. George to find a small town. Many who have traveled think of that tip of the island as a small version and feel of San Francisco. St. George and Borough Hall are an invention of the city union with the other four boroughs around 1905. The old center of the North Shore was Port Richmond Road and Richmond Terrace – now Mex-town.

SI is three times the size of Manhattan and almost the exact same size of Singapore. With a little wall street money and financing, SI could be another Singapore success story but as it stands, it is just a thruway from long island to jersey.

The politics are conservative. Half the income of the place may not be from the mob but maybe city pensions of cops and firemen. SI per capita lost the most firemen of any other borough in the big apple on 911.

They voted to secede from NYC in a plebiscite twenty years ago or so but the powers to be have kept us here to remain the dead end of New York City if you can’t afford the tolls out of the city. $15 round trip on the Verrazano and $13 round trip on the three ancient bridges that connect us to Jersey – an infrastructure disaster long overdue.

We on the North Shore were a lot more lucky than the South Shore (there is no east Staten Island like there is no East Philly where I was born and raised). We still paid out share of electrical failure from Sandy.

Overall, Staten island is either a hill or a swamp and is the “forgotten borough”.

Without blaming the victims who are by many verbal reports in the middle of a war zone type conditions on the south shore, you cannot built houses 100 from the ocean and expect them to stand in once in a lifetime hurricanes.

Most of the south shore on an 1890 map of staten island shows most of the south shore as a swamp. Etc.

Other than that, I love this half-burb on the Jersey side of New York Bay. The Jewel in the Crown of NYC that nobody in Manhattan cares to examine or admire.

Counterlight said...

My friend Jason Chappell in Brooklyn posted this on Facebook this morning:

"Big Hat Tip to community volunteer organizations like Red Hook Initiative and OccupyWallStreet/OccupySandy, who have done tremendous work all week down in Red Hook and throughout the city. They were out in kayaks and canoes delivering water and supplies, coordinating medical assistance with NYU Docs, running sick kids to Long Island College Hospital in cars, and offering up hot meals even before FEMA arrived. When volunteers showed up to help, they already had everything organized and moving. Tonight they had amassed more donated supplies than they could store, so they were shipping things down to the Rockaways and Staten Island. Good work."