Staten Island Travel Guide, New York City
Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Unlike the other four boroughs, Staten Island is “detached” from the rest, separated by the New York Harbor. It is closer to New Jersey than it is to the other boroughs. Staten Island covers 102.5 sq mi (265.5 sq km), although land area occupies only 58.48 sdq mi (151.5 sq km). It has the same boundaries as Richmond County of New York State.
Staten Island has a population approaching half a million people. It is the least populated of the five boroughs. However, in terms of area, it is the third biggest borough of the city.
Being an island, Staten Island is separated from New Jersey to the west by Arthur Kill, and to the north by Kill Van Kull. Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull are narrow tidal straits. In addition to the main island, Staten Island also includes a number of small, uninhabited islands including the Isle of Meadows, Prall’s Island, Shooters Island, Swinburne Island and Hoffman Island. The highest point on Staten Island is 410-foot (125-meter) Todt Hill.
Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Linking it with New Jersey are a number of bridges including Bayonne Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge. There are no bridges linking it to Manhattan. Instead, the Staten Island Ferry provides a free connection. A ride on the ferry affords marvelous views of the harbor and the New York City skyline.
Compared to the rest of New York City, Staten Island may feel quite suburban, more like the rest of New York State than New York City itself. The architecture of the houses also has a suburban feel to them which you don’t see if, say, Manhattan.
Visiting Staten Island
As mentioned, you can easily reach Staten Island by ferry from Manhattan. For tourists, this is the best option, as it offers you stunning views of the harbor. And best of all, the ferry service is free and operates round the clock.
If you are going there by car, you can enter using the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which has an expensive toll of $11 cash / $9.20 by E-Z Pass from Brooklyn, New York City. All tolls are collected one-way only, on entering the island. From New Jersey, the three crossings each have a $8.00 toll payable on entering the island. Cars with 3 or more people pay the carpool toll of only $2.00, available with E-Z Pass only.
Sights in Staten Island
- Alice Austin House Museum
- Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
- Historic Richmond Town
- Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
- National Lighthouse Museum
- New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center
- Staten Island Botanical Garden
- Staten Island Children’s Museum
- Staten Island Museum
- Staten Island Zoo
History of Staten Island
The first European to have sighted Staten Island was Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was sailing under the French flag when he arrived here in 1524. Then in 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson, sailing under the Dutch flag, arrived the same way. He named the island Staaten Eylandt, meaning “states island”, in honor of the Dutch parliament, which was called Staten-Generaal.
Staten Island remained uncolonized until 1661, when a settlement was established south of the Narrows near South Beach. It was called Oude Dorp, or “Old Village” in Dutch. When New Netherlands (which include much of present-day New York City) was ceded by the Dutch to the English in 1667, following the Second Anglo-Dutch War, Staaten Eylandt also changed hands. Under the English, it was called Staten Island for the first time. Three years later, the Native Americans were forced to relinquish all claims to Staten Island.
Staten Island became one of the boroughs of New York City in 1898. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, linking Staten Island with Brooklyn, was the world’s longest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1964. Its completion fueled development on the island, resulting in more residential and commercial development taking place on Staten Island.
Feeling neglected by New York City, there is a popular movement on Staten Island to secede. A referendum in 1993 had 65% of the residents voting to secede. However the move was blocked by the New York State Assembly.