Staten Island Timeline - 1500's to 1700
Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer sailing under the Sponsorship of King Francois I of France, anchors his
ship Dauphin in New York Bay. He had hoped to discover a new route to Asia.
Estevan Gomez a Portuguese explorer of African descent sailing under the sponsorship of Spain, sails the East Coast
of the United States and Canada in the ship La Anunciada passing or entering New York Bay.
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
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 War).
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 Richmond.
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
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
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 New Jersey.
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 Castleton.
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
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 Area.
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 in
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.
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
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. George.
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,
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 country.
1860: April 23
The first passenger train on the Staten Island Railroad begins operating between Eltingville and Clifton
June Staten Island gets its first magnetic telegraph line.
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 Lighthouse Museum.
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 injured.
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
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 homeless children.
Tompkinsville's Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, becomes Staten Island's first Jewish congregation.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
Staten Island Chamber of Commerce founded.
Staten Island Timeline - 1900's to the Present
1904: February 9
Curtis High School opens in St. George. Named for the writer, editor, orator George William Curtis.
1905: October 25
The City of New York takes control of the Staten Island Ferry due to dangerous conditions created by private ferry
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
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 field.
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.
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 vegetables.
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 Stapeltons, a long time Island semi-professional team, joins the National Football League.
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 Australia.
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, Brooklyn.
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
St. George Ferry Terminal is destroyed by fire. Three are dead, 280 injured.
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 years.
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, are abandoned.
"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 historic buildings.
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.
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.
Geraldo Rivera brings the abuse of disabled students at the Willowbrook State School to national attention. The publicity leads to the closing of the
St. John's University opens an Island campus after acquiring the all women's College of Notre Dame.
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.
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 Carolina.
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 and harbor.
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 Concord.
The "Teleport" is opened by the Port Authority of NY & NJ providing satellite and fiberoptic telecommunications to
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: 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.