At the southernmost part of New York City and New York State lies the borough of Staten Island. This third-largest borough covers 58 square miles of land, but has the smallest population of all five boroughs at 476,000 people. Staten Island and its surrounding waters comprise all of Richmond County, and it was previously known as the Borough of Richmond.
Staten Island lies between New Jersey and the rest of New York City. Residents can reach New Jersey via the Outerbridge, the Bayonne Bridge, and the Goethals Bridge, with an additional rail bridge crossing the Arthur Kill. Road access to New York City is done by crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which leads into Brooklyn.
There is no connection on Staten Island to the New York City subway, but the popular Staten Island Ferry provides a direct route to Manhattan. This popular ferry not only transports residents but attracts tourists from around the world due to its views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Since 1997, there has been no charge to ride the ferry.
While Staten Island was originally inhabited by the Native Americans, European settlement began in 1609 by Henry Hudson. It was at this time that it received its name from the Dutch, Staaten Eylandt, or “States Island”. Due to conflicts with the Native Americans, the island was not permanently settled until 1661. It became part of the colony of New York in 1667, and all Native American claims to the land were given up by 1670.
During the Revolutionary War, Staten Island was used as a strategic planning area for the British soldiers preparing to invade New York City. It remained under British control until 1783, when the troops left New York City for the final time.
Staten Island became part of New York City in 1868, when it was consolidated as one of the five boroughs. Once the Verranzo-Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn was created, Staten Island began to see a population boom, as people began to seek less crowded areas to live and work while staying within the city limits.
Staten Island enjoys the largest amount of parkland in New York City, due to a movement to preserve open space. There are thousands of acres devoted to parklands, allowing the island to enjoy a variety of local wildlife. Residents and tourist can enjoy walking the miles of wooded trails, managed by both federal and New York State departments.
Staten Island also has a number of museums and educational attractions including:
Staten Island has begun promoting its unique attractions, bringing visitors in off the Staten Island Ferry to enjoy all the island has to offer.
Many television shows and movies are set in, or filmed on, Staten Island, raising its popularity. Additionally, many artists and musicians have chosen to call Staten Island home, due to its easy access to Manhattan, lower population, and open spaces.
Staten Island is unique among the boroughs of New York City. With access to New York and New Jersey only via bridge or ferry, it has a lower population in a larger area, allowing residents and tourists alike to enjoy open parklands and many other attractions. With its long history, Staten Island is a fascinating part of the New York area.