Staten Island Timeline - 1500's to 1700
Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer sailing under the Sponsorship of King Francois I
of France, becomes the first European to pass through the Narrows.
1609: September 3
Henry Hudson, an English explorer sailing under the sponsorship of Holland, enters New York
Bay in the ship Halve Maen (Half Moon). He names the island Staaten Eyelandt in honor of the Dutch Parliament -
the States General or Staaten.
1639: January 5
From the journal of Captain David Pietersen De Vries: "Anno 1639 The 5th January I sent my
people to Staten Island to begin to plant a colony there and build." This is the beginning of the first European
settlement on Staten Island. By 1641 the colony is abandoned due to conflicts with the Native Americans (The Pig
A second colony is established under the sponsorship of Cornelius Melyn. It is also abandoned
due to Native American opposition in 1643 (The Whiskey War).
Baron van der Capellan toe Ryssel makes a third attempt at colonization but only manages to
sustain his colony until 1655, again due to Native American opposition (The Peach War).
1661: August 20
Nineteen Dutch and French Huguenot colonists form the first permanent European settlement on
Staten Island at Oude Dorp, near present day South Beach.
1664: August 18
English forces capture the Dutch Blockhouse (at the present site of Fort Wadsworth) defending
Staten Island. By August 29 the Dutch surrender all of New Amsterdam.
Western organized religion debuts on Staten Island as the Reverend Samuel Drisius starts
bi-monthly visits to the Oude Dorp colonists.
1670: April 13
Native Americans give up Staten Island in an agreement with the English Colonial Governor
Francis Lovelace. Native American concepts of allowing the use of land without granting ownership (which they felt
no individual was entitled to own) cloud the validity of such land agreements.
1676: March 25
Captain Christopher Billopp granted ownership of the southern portion of Staten Island where
he builds the house that will become known as the Conference House after the Revolutionary War.
1683: November 1
King Charles II of England renames Staten Island Richmond County after James the Duke of
Voorlezer's House, thought to be the oldest existing school building in the United States, is
built by the Dutch Reformed Church. It is now part of Historic Richmond Town.
Staten Island Timeline - 1700's to 1800
Richmond Town is established as the county seat of Richmond County
First ferry established between Manhattan and the North Shore.
1774: June 21
Daniel D. Tompkins, Island resident who developed Tompkinsville, is born in what is now
Scarsdale, N.Y. New York Governor from 1807 to 1817 and Vice President of the United States under President James
Monroe. He was a leader in the fight to abolish slavery in New York State.
1776: July 2,3
9,000 Redcoats commanded by British General William Howe land on Staten Island and set up
headquarters in New Dorp. During the Revolutionary War the British presence on mainly loyalist Staten Island will
climb as high as 30,000 British troops.
1776: Sept. 11
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge hold peace talks with British commander
William Howe. Howe offers clemency in return for surrender at the home of loyalist Lt. Col. Christopher Billopp in
Tottenville now called the "Conference House". The conference fails and the American Revolution continues.
1780: January 15
2,500 American troops march across the frozen Kill Van Kull from Elizabeth, NJ to Port
Richmond and attack British positions in West Brighton and New Brighton. Loyalist spies report the movements of
the Americans allowing the British to call for reinforcements who push the American forces back across the ice to
1783: December 5
The last British troop ship departs the newly formed United States from Staten Island. Staten
Island crowds gather to jeer the departing warships as they pass through the Narrows. The last shot of the
Revolutionary War is fired from a departing British vessel at the Staten Islanders. By the end of the war Staten
Island was almost completely deforested to supply fuel for British army campfires.
Staten Island is divided into four official townships: Northfield, Southfield, Westfield and
1794: May 2
"Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt is born on Long Island and moved to Stapleton, Staten Island
as a child. He began sail-powered ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan which he expanded into a
railroad and shipping empire. At one point he was the richest man in America. Vanderbilt went to school in Port
Richmond until the age of 11. The Vanderbilts later moved to a Stapleton house that stood at the present site of
the Paramount Theater on Bay Street, Stapleton
Creation of a Quarantine station for immigrants with Yellow Fever and Small Pox is authorized
to move from Bedloe (now Liberty) Island to Tompkinsville. Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American Roman
Catholic Saint, assists her father, the New York City Health Officer, Dr. Richard Bayley.
Staten Island Timeline - 1800's to 1900
Fort Richmond (now Fort Wadsworth) protects New York City from invasion by the British during
the War of 1812. Several British ships are sighted off Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1813 but do not risk passing
under the guns of the Staten Island fort. Daniel D. Tompkins leads the effort to bolster the fort's defenses
creating Fort Tompkins which sits at the top of the hill. By 1815, when the war's end was announced in New York,
900 cannons lined the shores around Fort Richmond. The fort is currently part of the Gateway National Recreation
1816: March 31
Modern day Victory Boulevard begins existence when the Richmond Turnpike Company is
incorporated. Their coaches connected ferries from Manhattan at Tompkinsville to New Jersey bound ferries in
Travis. It is owed by Daniel D. Tompkins and promoted as the fastest route from New York to Philadelphia.
1817: November 29
The first steam ferry begins service between Manhattan and Tompkinsville. Because of the high
price of the commute (12 ½ cents each way) the ferry attracts primarily wealthy New Yorkers settle on the North
Shore of Staten Island.
Factoryville established in present day West New Brighton.
After a long struggle, lead by Staten Islander Daniel D. Tompkins, slavery is abolished in
New York State.
1827: October 17
The weekly newspaper the Richmond Republican, the first newspaper to cover Staten Island is
produced (but printed inManhattan).
1828: February 23
Capt. John Jackson buys land in Westfield (Sandy Ground), first record of a black man buying
land in Richmond County
The first Prince's Bay Lighthouse is constructed
Charles Goodyear opens a factory near his West New Brighton home to produce rubber toys, maps
and surgical bandages. Goodyear revolutionized the rubber industry when he accidentally dropped a mixture of
sulfur and rubber on a hot stove creating the process known as "vulcanization" (patented 1844) that strengthened
rubber so that it could be used in industry.
Newly freed blacks from Manhattan and free Maryland oystermen begin settling at Sandy Ground
(parts of Rossville, Woodrow, Pleasant Plains and Charleston)
Sailor's Snug Harbor opens as the nation's first home and hospital for retired seamen. Its
benefactor, Captain Robert Randall, created the institution in his will as a way to repay the sailors who had
created his family's fortune.
New Brighton, one of America's earliest suburban communities, was created. It featured a
large hotel and Greek Revival style homes facing the Kill Van Kull. The development included part of today's St.
1836: September 12
Aaron Burr, former Vice President of the United States, dies in Port Richmond.
Robbin's Reef Lighthouse, in Upper New York Bay near the St. George Ferry terminal, in
commission. In 1886 Kate Walker became the keeper upon her husband's dying words: " Mind the light, Kate". She was
one of a very small number of female lighthouse keepers in the nation. She rescued over 50 people during a career
that lasted until 1919.
St. Peter's, The Island's first Catholic parish is established in New Brighton.
Author Henry David Thoreau lives on Staten Island while tutoring the children of Ralph Waldo
Emerson's brother, William Emerson.
Italian born inventor Antonio Meucci comes to Staten Island from Cuba to develop and patent
his telephone. His experiments with medical shock treatments had revealed the possibility of transmitting the
human voice over electrical wires. Because Meucci lacked the funds to patent his invention the credit for the
invention of the telephone eventually went to Alexander Graham Bell.
African Americans from New York City and the surrounding region began to settle permanently
at Sandy Ground in the Woodrow/Rossville Area. They established the A.M.E Zion Church there. In the 1860s and
1870s free black oystermen from Snow Hill, a Maryland town on the Chesapeake Bay, greatly expand the community.
Guiseppe Garibaldi military leader of Italian unification comes to Staten Island for two
years supporting himself as a candle maker while living with Antonio Meucci in Rosebank.
Kreischerville is founded in Southwest Staten Island. It was the home of clay mining
operations (the remnants of which are still visible at Clay Pit Ponds State Park) and brick manufacture.
1856: January 21
Staten Island Historical Society is founded.
1858: September 1
Fearing the spread of contagious disease a mob of Staten Islanders burn the Quarantine
Hospital in Tompkinsville. The hospital served immigrants to the US who were thought to be too ill to enter the
1860: April 23
The first passenger train on the Staten Island Railroad begins operating between Eltingville
and Clifton (Vanderbilt's Landing)
June Staten Island gets its first magnetic telegraph line.
Richmond County Mirror, first newspaper printed on Staten Island is published.
During the Civil War Staten Island helps the Union War effort in several ways. Many Union
regiments assemble on Staten Island to train before heading to battle including the Clinton Rifles, 178th and
145th Regiments. Staten Island ferryboats were mounted with cannons and served in the Union Navy. Colonel Robert
Gould Shaw, longtime Staten Island resident, led an African American Regiment into battle.
St. George chosen as the site for a Lighthouse Depot to develop more effective lighthouses
and distribute lamps and lenses throughout the country. In 1998 the site was selected as the home of the National
1863: July 14
Civil War draft riots spread to Staten Island. Homes of African Americans in Stapleton are
burned as blacks are unfairly blamed for causing the war. At least 5 are killed on Staten Island and many others
1866: March 17
Noted Island photographer, Alice Austen, is born. The pioneering woman photographer captured
thousands of images of Staten Island and New York City life. Her Rosebank home, "Clear Comfort", overlooking the
Narrows is preserved as the Alice Austen Museum.
Anna Harriet Leonowens opens a West New Brighton School on Richmond Terrace. She is best
known for tutoring the 67 children of the King of Siam and the musical based on her experience - "The King and I".
Swinburne Island, a man-made island off of South Beach, is constructed as a Quarantine
hospital for immigrants arriving in America with contagious diseases. It replaces the quarantine ships which had
housed the sick immigrants since the burning of the Tompkinsville Quarantine Station in 1858. Originally named Dix
Island, after a former New York Governor, the name was soon changed to Swinburne after the Civil War Hero and
surgeon who headed the development of the Island: John S. Swinburne.
First defense of the America's Cup in the waters off Staten Island. The New York Yacht Club
is based in a clubhouse located next to the Alice Austen House in Rosebank. The sailing yachts Magic and the
original champion America are among the boats to defeat the British challenger Cambria.
1871: July 30
The worst accident in the history of the Staten Island ferry occurs. A boiler explosion
aboard the ferryboat Westfield II kills over 125 passengers and injures over 200 as it departs South Ferry.
Hoffman Island, a second man-made Quarantine Island, is completed off the shore of South
Beach. Conditions on the both quarantine islands were often overcrowded and unsanitary. In 1901 7,801 people were
detained on Hoffman Island. Use of the hospitals declined until they were finally closed in the 1920s. From 1931
to 1937 the island was used as a bird quarantine station for imported parrots. The island is named for John T.
Hoffman, a former New York City Mayor and New York State Governor.
1874: March 20
Mary Ewing Outerbridge brings tennis to the United States for the first time. After seeing
the game of lawn tennis played on a vacation to Bermuda Ms. Outerbridge decides to bring back the equipment and
sets up the first court in St. George.
Mary Ewing Outerbridge introduces tennis to the United States. After seeing the game played
in Bermuda she sets up the first US tennis court on Staten Island. Tennis begins to spread widely and the first
National Lawn Tennis Tournament is held at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club.
The forerunner of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences is founded by a group of
local naturalists. The group calls themselves the Natural Science Association.
The American Linoleum Manufacturing Company first introduces Electricity to Staten Island in
Travis when they install electric lighting. Telephone service is also introduced to the Island this same year.
1883: November 29
Father John Christopher Drumgoole, a Catholic Priest, founds founds St. Vincent's Home for
Homeless Newsboys at Mount Loretto on Staten Island's South shore. The facility provides care for thousands of
Tompkinsville's Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, becomes Staten Island's first Jewish
1886: March 8
The first ferry terminal at St. George opens combining a rail connection in the same building
allowing for a fast transfer to points on the south shore.
1886: March 27
Richmond County Advance begins publication.
The Metropolitan Baseball Club of the American Association begins play at their St. George
stadium. Before coming to Staten Island the team played in what many consider to be the first world series when
they lost to the National League's Providence Grays in 1884.
1888: Sept. 26
First street lights brighten Richmond Terrace
1889: June 13
The first bridge from Staten Island to New Jersey is opened. The railroad bridge connects
Howland Hook to Elizabeth New Jersey. It was later torn down to make room for the Goethals Bridge.
Staten Island Chamber of Commerce founded.
1898: January 21
Staten Island joins New York City. 73% of Staten Islanders approve the referendum that
combines the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island into a single city. Up to this point Richmond
County had been administered as five townships.
1899: Feb. 6
First library opens in Tottenville, gift of Andrew Carngie
Staten Island Timeline - 1900's to the Present
1903: Nov. 24
St. Vincent's Hospital in West Brighton opens
1904: February 9
Curtis High School opens in St. George. Named for the writer, editor, orator George William
1905: October 25
The City of New York takes control of the Staten Island Ferry due to dangerous conditions
created by private ferry operators.
1906: May 2
Borough Hall in St. George is dedicated.
Procter & Gamble Corporation opens a factory in Mariners Harbor where they produce Ivory Soap
and other products for more than 80 years.
Staten Island Lighthouse on Lighthouse Hill begins operation, guiding ships from the Atlantic
Ocean into Lower New York Bay.
1912: June 21
Abel Kiviat, a Curtis High School Track Star, wins the Olympic silver medal for the
1,500-meter run in Stockholm, Sweden. He also captures gold with the U.S. 3,000-meter relay team. He is the
cabinmate of track great Jim Thorpe on the ship to Sweden.
1913: November 12
Sea View Hospital opens to treat Tuberculosis patients, becoming a national leader in the
The New York Bay Oyster industry, long vital to Staten Island's economy, is shut down by the
New York City Health Department. Fears of Typhoid caused by the polluted water force the closure. Staten Island
Oysters had been considered great delicacies around the United States and Europe. Recent efforts have been made to
reintroduce oysters into New York Bay.
World War I. More than 5,000 Staten Islanders join the armed services, more men per capita
than any county in the United States. 160 are killed in action. 9,000 workers are employed building steel cargo
ships for the war effort at the Standard Shipbuilding Company on Shooter's Island.
Wagner College moves to Staten Island from Rochester, NY. The campus is established on the
Cunard Estate, former home of the famed British shipping line's American operations manager. The college has only
16 students at the time.
Staten Island Advance begins daily publication
The former New Dorp farm of William H. Vanderbilt is converted into a coastal air defense
station. Named Miller Field air in 1920 for Captain James E. Miller an American airman killed in France during
World War I.
The poet Langston Hughes lives and works for a season on a Staten Island farm growing
Ground is broken in St. George and Brooklyn for a subway line connecting the two boroughs. It
is never completed.
1928: June 20
The Outerbridge Crossing and the Goethals Bridge, both connecting Staten Island to New
Jersey, open on the same day.
The Staten Island Stapleton's, a long time Island semi-professional team, joins the National
1931: November 15
The Bayonne Bridge opens connecting Elm Park, Staten Island and Bayonne New Jersey. It is the
longest Steel Arch Bridge in the world when it is completed, just slightly longer than the Sydney Harbor Bridge in
1935: Nov. 19
Construction of the FDR Boardwalk in South Beach begins
1936: June 10
The Staten Island Zoo, in Barrett Park, opens.
The US Maritime Service opens a training school for merchant marines on Hoffman Island. By
1943 the school enrolled 1200 students. By 1947 the school outgrew the island and moved to Sheepshead Bay,
1939: July 4
Dedication ceremonies held for FDR Boardwalk in South Beach, including huge parade with
bathing beauties and babies. Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia cuts ribbon.
An explosion in the Unexcelled Manufacturing Company, a fireworks plant in Graniteville kills
1943: May 11
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the North Shore Branch Staten Island Railway en
route to a meet President Franklin D Roosevelt in Washington DC after his ship had landed in Tompkinsville.
Staten Island fights World War II. A submarine net stretching from Miller Field across the
Narrows prevents attacks by German submarines in New York Harbor. Troops train at Miller Field before being sent
to fight in Europe and Africa. 250 Italian Army prisoners of war are housed on Staten Island. Island Anti-aircraft
batteries defend New York City against potential air attacks.
1946: June 25
Raging fire consumes St. George ferry terminal; killing three, injuring 280 and destroying 17
Halloran General hospital is converted from military use to the Willowbrook State Hospital.
The Jacques Marchais Tibetan Museum, modeled after a Tibetan mountain temple, is constructed
on Lighthouse Hill. The museum has a large collection of Tibetan art and was visited by the Dalai Lama in 1991.
1948: April 16
Fresh Kills Landfill opens. Planned only as a "temporary" solution to New York's trash
disposal problem the landfill will grow to become the world's largest. The landfill operated for more than 50
1948: April 22
New York City's first drive-in theater opens in New Springville
The Korean War begins. Fears of an air attack on New York City bring Staten Island
anti-aircraft batteries back to full strength. The Korean War Veterans Memorial Parkway, formerly the Richmond
Parkway, now honors Staten Islanders who served in the Korean conflict.
1951: October 3
Bobby Thomson, "the Staten Island Scot", hits "the shot heard 'round the world" a homerun
giving the National League pennant to the New York Giants.
Passenger runs along the North Shore Railroad, connecting St. George and Mariner's Harbor,
"Nike" guided surface-to-air missiles are based at Fort Wadsworth continuing an active
military role for the fort which began when the Dutch constructed a block house on the spot in the 1600s.
Staten Island Community College (CUNY) opens in St. George.
Richmondtown Restoration, now called Historic Richmond Town, opens. In Staten Island's answer
to Colonial Williamsburg, costumed guides reenact historical Staten Island trades and home life in original
1960 December 16
128 people are killed in a mid-air collision between a TWA plane and a United Airlines plane
over Staten Island's Miller Field. The TWA plane rains wreckage down on Miller Field while the United plane flies
as far as Park Slope Brooklyn before crashing. It is the worst air disaster in US history to that point.
Island's last brewery, Piels' Bros. in Stapleton is closed
1963: April 20
Black Saturday: Three brush fires - one starting in Rossville, one in Tottenville and another
in Mariners Harbor - destroy 100 houses, leave more than 500 homeless. The fires cause more than $2 million in
damage and level many of the historic houses in the Sandy Ground community
1964: August 29
Mid-Island Little League defeats Monterrey Mexico 4-0 to win Little League World Series.
Islander Dan Yaccarino pitched a no-hitter.
1964: November 21
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn opens. Othmar Amman,
designer of the Bayonne Bridge, designed the bridge. Then the largest suspension bridge in the world, the design
had to incorporate the curvature of the earth and seasonal expansions and contractions which drop the roadway
twelve feet lower in the summer than the winter. The bridge began a massive building and population boom on the
Island that continues into the present day.
1964: December 18
NYC approval is given to establish a "Greenbelt" park reaching from Sea View to New Dorp.
At the first meeting of the newly created New York City Landmarks Commission 6 Sailor's
Snug Harbor buildings are designated as landmarks, saving them from demolition.
1966: Oct. 11
President Lyndon B. Johnson attends the dedication ceremony of the Verrazano-Narrows
Geraldo Rivera brings the abuse of disabled students at the Willowbrook State School to
national attention. The publicity leads to the closing of the school.
St. John's University opens an Island campus after acquiring the all women's College of
1971: May 4
Staten Islander Paul Zindel wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play "Effect of
Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds." Zindel, a former chemistry teacher at Tottenville High School, draws
inspiration for his works from local sites and personas. A prolific author of literature for adolescents,
Zindel's most popular works include "The Pigman" and "My Darling, My Hamburger."
1973: August 9
The Staten Island Mall opens. Stores in traditional shopping areas such as Port Richmond
relocate or close due as the large chain stores gather together in one location.
1973: Feb. 10
An empty 500,000 barrel liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank in Bloomfield explodes, killing
40 workers cleaning the inside. The incident, which stands as the borough's worst industrial accident ever,
energizes local opposition to filling larger tanks, in Rossville, with the gas. The tanks are never filled,
ending a 13-year battle against the plan.
The Staten Island Children's Museum opens in a storefront. In 1986 the museum moves to
its current location in Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
Thanks in part to the Clean Water Act of 1972, wading birds are first spotted returning
to the cleaner waters around Staten Island. By 1994 there were approximately 1300 pairs of wading birds on
Shooters Island (43 acres), Prall's Island (80 acres), and the Isle of Meadows (101 acres). New species
include ibis, heron, and egret.
The Staten Island Children's Museum opens in a storefront. In 1986 the museum moves to
its current location in Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
The Borough of Richmond is officially renamed the Borough of Staten Island.
The last of the retired sailors relocate from Sailor's Snug Harbor to Sea Level, North
1976: July 1
New York City takes possession of the Sailor's Snug Harbor. It begins its new life as the
Snug Harbor Cultural Center with museums, artists' studios, performance halls and botanical gardens.
1976: July 4
New York Cit celebrates the US Bicentennial with a parade of tall ships in the Narrows
Prall's Island in the Arthur Kill is acquired by the New York City Parks system as an
80-acre bird sanctuary.
1985: December 23
The Muslim Majlis Mosque, Staten Island's first Islamic house of worship, is founded in
The "Teleport" is opened by the Port Authority of NY & NJ providing satellite and
fiberoptic telecommunications to businesses.
Several oil spills in New York Harbor turn back many of the gains made by nature in
reclaiming the waterways around Staten Island. In January an Exxon pipeline spilled 567,000 gallons of fuel
oil into the Arthur Kill damaging an estimated 197 acres of salt marsh and killing about 700 birds.
Fortunately, the local herons, ibis and egrets had migrated south at the time.
The Stapleton Homeport opens providing major facilities for the docking of US Navy war
ships. It closed in 1994 due to budget cuts.
The College of Staten Island starts moving to its new campus on the grounds of the former
Willowbrook State School.
65% of Staten Island voters approve a draft charter for an independent City of Staten
Island but the charter is not adopted by the state government.
1996: Jan. 8-9
Staten Islands worst blizzard on record. 30 inches of snow falls
1996: May 23
The New York State Senate approves the closing of the Fresh Kills Landfill.
2001: September 11
Members of the Al Quaeda terrorist organization hijack and crash two passenger jets into
the World Trade Center destroying the building and killing nearly 3,000. Staten Island bears much of the loss
of life, nearly 300 residents, with a large numbers of firemen and World Trade Center workers living on Staten
Island. The Fresh Kills landfill is chosen to hold the debris from the towers and serves as a crime lab for
police investigators searching for human remains.
2003: February 21
Oil barge explodes on Staten Island
2003: August 14
All of Staten Island, New York City and seven other states across the Northeast and the
Midwest, as well as parts of Canada, go dark late in the afternoon and stay that way for at least 12 hours in
the biggest electrical blackout to affect the region in decades.
2003: October 15
In one of the bloodiest public transportation accidents in Staten Island History, the
ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi plows into a concrete pier in St. George, killing 11 and injuring 70. The
ship's pilot, Assistant Capt. Richard J. Smith, is sentenced to 18 months in prison.