Offbeat New York

Staten Island: Your Guide to Art, Culture, History, Offbeat Attractions and Things to Do

The Staten Island Ferry -- Offbeat, Free, and Wonderful

One of the most famous icons of New York City spends half its time on the way to Staten Island. It's the Staten Island Ferry that runs between St. George, Staten Island and Whitehall Street in Manhattan.

A piece of trivia about this most famous ferry is that it is the only non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan. According to the Staten Island Ferry website, the Staten Island Ferry is run by the City of New York for one pragmatic reason. To transport Staten Islanders to and from Manhattan. Because Staten Island is the only borough lacking any kind of subway or train connection to the other boroughs.

The short 5 mile (25 minute) ride provides a benefit over and above people-moving. As it chugs out of the harbor, voyagers are treated to one of the best views of New York Harbor, and the Great Lady known as the Statue of Liberty.

Take your cameras and snap away at skyline of Lower Manhattan

Alice Austen House Museum
2 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10305
Phone 718-816-4506

Historic home/museum of photographer Alice Austen. This 18th century cottage is surrounded by gardens and provides a view of New York harbor and Manhatten. Museum has period rooms and an exhibit of Austen's photographs of the daily lives of Staten Islanders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Located right by the water.

The Conference House
7455 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10307
Phone:718 984-0415
Built in the 17th Century and located at the southern most tip of New York State in Staten Island, The Conference House is famous for the Peace Conference held there on September 11, 1776. Today it's considered a National and New York City Landmark, the only pre-Revolutionary manor house still surviving in New York City. Tours are available April through December, and there is a calendar of special events.

Fort Wadsworth
East end of Bay Street
Phone 718/354-4500

One of the oldest military sites, this fort guarded NYC for almost 200 years. Ranger-led tours of Civil War-era gun batteries, self-guided tour, and the view are the chief attractions.

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
420 Tompkins Avenue
Phone 718 442-1608
A National Landmark the building was the home and laboratory of Antonio Meucci who is described as being the true inventor of the telephone. The building was also a refuge for Guiseppe Garibaldi who championed the cause of a unified Italian state.

Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue
Staten Island,NY 10306
Phone 718-351-1611

The original seat of Richmond (Staten Island) county government. Possibly New York City's only living history village and museum, the 100-acre complex has homes, shops, and public buildings from the 1690s to 1900s. Over 25 homes and public buildings, including the Voorlezer's House, a National Landmark building dated to the 1690s, The Third County Courthouse from 1837, and PS 28, a Public School built in 1907, representing over 300 years of Staten Island history.

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
338 Lighthouse Avenue
Phone: 718 987-3500
Described as one of only two Himalayan-style, monastery buildings in the Western world (and the only one in the United States). It has the biggest collection of Tibetan art outside Tibet itself. Even the history of the Museum is intriguing. Jacques Marchais (1887-1948) is the adopted name of Edna Coblentz, who had a passionate interest in Tibetan art and culture. Not the usual interest for an American woman in the very early 1900s. Her passion was art primarily from Tibet, Mongolia, and northern China dating from the 15th-early 20th centuries, rich in bronze and other metal statues of buddhas, arhats, and protector deities, as well as in thangka paintings, ornate ritual objects, and musical instruments. During the 1940s, Jacques Marchais designed two buildings based on architectural styles of Lhasa, Tibet, to permanently display her collection.

Located atop Lighthouse Hill the gardens are as much of an attraction as the art.

National Lighthouse Center and Museum
Phone: 718 556-1681
Located on the St. George waterfront, the Lighthouse will be reopening shortly for limited visitation while undergoing extensive renovation. Historic buildings and exhibits as well as exhibits onboard the Nantucket Lightship. The Nantucket 112 was built in 1936 and is described as the largest lightship still afloat in the US. It will be berthed at Pier One.

Sandy Ground Historical Society
1538 Woodrow Road
Phone: 718 317-5796

Described as the oldest continuously inhabitied community established by free slaves in North America. The museum and library examines the life and history of freed Blacks who settled in the area before the Civil War. Call for hours.

Sundog Theatre
P. O. Box 10183
Staten Island, NY 10301-0183
Phone: 718 816-5453

Sundog Theatre, Inc. is a resident performing arts organization in Staten Island that provides entertainment for adults and children.

St. George/New Brighton Historic District
St. Marks Place and Westervelt Avenue

Part of NYC's earliest suburban developments, with Civil War-era brick rowhouses, French-style constructions with mansard roofs, Craftsman-style homes, and Queen Anne-style houses. A total of 78 buildings, most from the late 19th century.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center
1000 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: 718-448-2500

Perhaps Staten Island's most famous attraction. This national historic district of American architecture, on 83 acres. Once a rest home for merchant seamen, the Greek Revival buildings have become home to performing arts events and art exhibitions. There's the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in the Main Hall, The Music Hall, the second oldest concert hall in NYC, The Art Lab a school for students of all ages with workshops, lectures and featured Staten Island artists, and more. Among the wealth of attractions at Snug Harbor are:

    Staten Island Children's Museum
    Phone: 718-273-2060

    A hands-on exploration of features indoor and outdoor experiences. Enjoy Great Explorations, Block Harbor, Bugs & Other Insects, Portia’s Playhouse, Body Odyssey, Walk In! Workshop, Toddler Programs, Storytelling & Animal Feeding.

    The Noble Maritime Collection
    Phone: 718 447-6490

    A maritime museum and education center in its own restored building with galleries, children's programs, library, archives and more. The collection focuses on the history of New York Harbor (particularly Snug Harbor) and maritime artist John A. Noble.

    Staten Island Botanical Garden
    Phone: 718-273-8200

    Specimen trees, ponds, natural marsh habitat, greenhouse, gardens, display plantings in 53 acres. One highlight is the Chinese Scholars Garden described as America's first classical Chinese garden, made in China, shipped to Staten Island, and installed by Chinese artisans. Also visit the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, modeled after the children's classic.

Staten Island Institute of Arts & Science
75 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: 718-727-1135

Walking distance from the Staten Island Ferry terminal the Institute presents the history of Staten Island art, natural science, and history. Guided Ferry tours.

Staten Island Zoo
614 Broadway
Staten Island, NY 10310
Phone: 718-442-3101
Small zoo known for its reptile collection, also includes an aquarium, a tropical forest, an African Savannah and farmyard.

Willowbrook Carousel
Eton Place off Richmond Avenue
Phone: 718 667-2165

The carousel is wheelchair accessible and contains fifty-two hand painted figures of traditional carousel horses, and mythical beasts in a Victorian style merry-go-round.

September 11th Memorial
Opened to the public in 2004 the Memorial is located on the esplanade next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. It's called Postcards designed by Masayuki Sono to honor the Staten Islanders who perished in the attack on September 11th, 2001.

Fresh Kills Landfill -- Truly Offbeat Attraction

Okay, this is probably not going to be a big visitor attraction, but it is considered NYC's largest landfill. Essentially decommissioned in March, 2001, plans are underway to landscape, and rebuild its 2200 acres into something beautiful. You can read more about it at Planning for Fresh Kill's Future.

Fresh Kills is also part of New York City history as a result of its role in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The remnants, debris, and objects from the site were moved to Fresh Kills. Now, for many, it is also hallowed ground.

According to Smithsonian National Museum of American history: To facilitate the search and clean-up of the World Trade Center collapse, the 1.45 million tons of debris were sent to Fresh Kills, an old landfill on Staten Island. Using rakes, sifting tables, and heavy equipment, workers spread out the debris and meticulously examined it for even the smallest pieces of evidence. The site was staffed by members of the FBI, FDNY, NYPD, and other government agencies. In all, 54,000 personal objects were recovered and 1,200 victims identified.

Eventually Fresh Kills may be a memorial as well as a nature preserve and park.

Staten Island Sports & Recreation

Staten Island Yankees
RCBK Ballpark at St. George
Staten Island,NY 10301
phone 718-720-9265
Minor league Staten Island Yankees is an affiliate of the NY Yankees. First Minor league baseball team in NYC. Games from mid-June to early September. Located next to the Staten Island Ferry this 6,500 seat-stadium also provides a view of lower Manhattan.

LaTourette Golf Course
1001 Richmond Hill Road
Phone: 718-351-1889
There are about 500 acres of hiking trails through wooded park land, an 18 hole public golf course, driving range, clubhouse with pro shop, restaurant, ski and sleigh hills and lockers. Free parking available. The clubhouse is the David LaTourette House, an 1836 federal-style mansion.

Silver Lake Park & Golf Course
915 Victory Blvd., West Brighton
Phone: 718-447-5686
There are 107 acres of park area (perfect place for a picnic), an 18-hole public golf course, tennis courts, clubhouses, pro shop, lockers, and restaurant.

South Shore Golf Course
200 Huguenot Avenue, Huguenot
Phone: 718-984-0101
18-hole public golf course equipped with driving range, lockers, and restaurant.

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