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                  Polly Bodine
Staten Island Tragedies





Staten Island Tragedies

1858: September 1

Angry mobs from New Brighton and Edgewater (Stapleton) torch the Marine Hospital Quarantine in Tompkinsville, where immigrants with infectious diseases are held. From the outset, the community oppose establishment of a quarantine on Staten Island. But after a number of local cases of yellow fever are confirmed, citizens take action and the riot makes national headlines. Later, new quarantine stations are built on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands.


1863: July 14

Extreme mob violence, which began days earlier in Manhattan, spreads to Staten Island in what is now called the Civil War draft riots. When conscription laws are enacted with loopholes for the affluent, the actual draftees are overwhelmingly poor Irish immigrants. In protest, houses in Stapleton owned by blacks, who are widely viewed as responsible for the war, are torched and blacks hunted down and beaten. Conservative estimates include five Island deaths, but the toll is much higher in Manhattan.

1871: July 30

A boiler explodes on the Westfield II ferry on a Sunday afternoon as hundreds of beach-bound Manhattanites board. Sixty-six people are killed immediately in the blast and resulting inferno and stampede, or drown in the roiling water. More than 200 passengers are burned, scalded by steam, maimed by flying debris; more than 60 die later from their injuries. The accident stands as the Staten Island Ferry's worst disaster.

1918 - A flu epidemic claims 150 lives on Staten Island. Polio takes the lives of nearly 100 young Islanders.


A series of devastating fires - taking hundreds of concession stands and a number of popular hotels - cripple Midland Beach's reputation as a favored resort destination for city-weary Manhattanites. The beach resort era here is finally sealed by the Great Depression and encroaching water pollution.

1926: Sept. 6

Torrential rains cause Bodine Creek in West Brighton to overflow. Two dams collapse, resulting in flooding from Arlington to Clifton that causes more than $1 million in property damage. Two people are killed

1937: August 11

Heavy rains collapse a six-family tenement on New Street (now Jersey Street, site of the Richmond Terrace Houses) in New Brighton. Nineteen people, including a heroic police officer attempting to rescue a trapped child, are killed.

Photograph: Patrolman Joseph P. McBreen

Patch image: New York City Police Department, New York


Patrolman Joseph P. McBreen
New York City Police Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, August 11, 1937ot available
Badge Number: 16291
Incident Details
Cause of Death: Structure collapse
Date of Incident: Wednesday, August 11, 1937
t available
Patrolman McBreen was killed while attempting to rescue 21 people, including a child from a six-family tenement on New Street (now Jersey Street, site of the Richmond Terrace Houses, New Brighton, Staten Island) that had been flooded by heavy rain. When Patrolman McBreen entered the building from a window the building collapsed, killing Patrolman McBreen and 18 civilians.

Patrolman McBreen was a member of Emergency Services Squad #10, based on Staten Island.


1942: March 28

An explosion at the Unexcelled Manufacturing Co. fireworks plant in Graniteville kills five workers. Investigators theorize an electrical spark may have set off flammable material that the men were mixing to make Army and Navy signal flares.

1946: June 25

A nine-alarm blaze consumes the St. George Ferry Terminal, crippling Staten Island's main public transportation hub. Three people are killed, 280 are injured and 17 trains are destroyed in the inferno. There are no ferries between Manhattan and Brooklyn for two days, until a contingency plan is put into effect. A new terminal opens five years later.



GIRL DIES, 31 HURT ON S.I. SCHOOL BUS; Train Crashes into Vehicle at Condemned Crossing GIRL DIES, 31 HURT ON S.I. SCHOOL BUS


November 8, 1960

A train crashed into a crowded school bus at a Staten Island crossing yesterday afternoon, killing an 8-year-old girl and injuring thirty-one other youngsters. Grant City

FATAL CROSSING IS CLOSED ON S.I.; School Bus Crash Develops Into Political Issue


November 11, 1960

Borough President Albert V. Maniscalco of Staten Island yesterday ordered the closing of the grade crossing where a Staten Island Rapid Transit train struck a school bus Monday. An 8-year-old girl was killed and thirty other children were injurd in the accident.


1960: December 16

The worst U.S. air accident to date occurs over Staten Island when TWA Flight 266 from Dayton, Ohio, bound for La Guardia, collides in a heavy snowstorm with United Flight 825 from Chicago bound for Idlewild (now Kennedy) Airport. The TWA Constellation, with 40 passengers and a crew of five, breaks up and falls in three sections on the landing strip of Miller Field, narrowly missing houses and two schools. The United jet, with 76 passengers and a crew of seven, flies a few miles before falling into the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. All 128 people aboard the two aircraft die.

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

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.

1986: July 7

A mentally disturbed person (Juan Gonzalez) with a machete attacked passengers on a ferry. Two people were killed and nine others were wounded.


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.

1996: Jan. 8-9

Staten Islands worst blizzard on record. 30 inches of snow falls

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: 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.



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