Staten Island: A Look Into the Past

March 16, 2017 | Blog | Reading Time 5:00 Minutes

As the least populated of New York City’s boroughs, Staten Island is often overshadowed by its much larger neighbors of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Despite this, Staten Island’s history is long, storied and proud, rich with the history of the people who have called the island home over the centuries. To shed some light on the least well-known borough, here is a brief timeline of the important events, dates and people that have left their mark on Staten Island over the years.

Pre-1500s: Staten Island is home to thousands of years of Native American settlements.

The first signs of human activity on Staten Island appeared soon after the last Ice Age. In the early twentieth century, archeologists discovered tools that indicated members of a prehistoric Clovis culture inhabited Staten Island as far back as 14,000 years ago. By around 3,000 B.C., permanent Native American settlements and agricultural activity appeared in multiple places on the island. These ongoing settlements continued through to the European discovery of the island, which was known in the Algonquian language alternately as Eghquhous (or “the bad woods”) and Aquehonga Manacknong (or “as far as the place of the bad woods”).

1520: Europeans discover Staten Island.

The first known contact by a European explorer was made in 1520 when Italian adventurer Giovanni da Verrazzano landed on Staten Island for one night. Verrazzano was exploring North America with his ship La Dauphine on behalf of Francis I of France. At the time of Verrazzano’s arrival, Staten Island was home to the Raritan band of the Lenape tribe. Because the Lenape moved with the seasons, the Native American tribe made no fixed encampments, and there is no evidence that Verrazzano and the Lenape made contact during his short stop over on Staten Island.

1609: Staten Island gets its name.

While exploring on behalf of the Dutch Republic, English adventurer Henry Hudson became the second European to land on Staten Island during a scouting mission in Upper New York Bay with his ship, Half Moon. With Hudson’s arrival came the island’s current name; the Dutch crew bestowed the name Staaten Eylandt to honor the Dutch Parliament, which was known as Staten-Generaal. The first permanent European settlement did not occur until more than 50 years later, when the Dutch established Oude Dorp at the site of current-day Old Town.

1667: Staten Island becomes a part of England’s North American colonies.

In 1667, the Dutch ceded their new Netherlands colony as part of the treaty negotiations with England at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In the process, the English officially anglicized Staaten Eylandt to Staten Island and joined the island with their New York colony. Three years later, the Native Americans also ceded any claims over Staten Island in an agreement with New York Governor Francis Lovelace. The English resurveyed much of the current Dutch settlement to encourage the island’s development, creating a new town named Nieuwe Dorp (now known as New Dorp).

1776: Staten Island plays an important role in the Revolutionary War.

Staten Island acted as a British base during much of the American Revolutionary War, providing the British Navy with an important staging ground to launch attacks on the Continental Army’s stronghold in Manhattan. In 1777, the Battle of Staten Island occurred, leading to a stalemate as both sides took over a hundred prisoners before the Americans withdrew. Ultimately, as the tide of war turned against the British army, Staten Island became their stepping stone for a complete evacuation from New York City at the end of 1783. Most of the large Loyalist landowners left Staten Island for Canada at the end of the war.

1898: Staten Island is consolidated into New York City.

The City of Greater New York was formed on January 1, 1898 when the City of New York was consolidated with Brooklyn, the western portion of Queens County, the East Bronx and Staten Island. This consolidation was the culmination of discussions about a unified New York City that had been ongoing since at least the 1820s. As part of the consolidation process, all of Staten Island’s individual towns were dissolved.

1964: The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge joins Staten Island with the rest of New York City.

Named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge marked a new stage in Staten Island’s development as the residents of the island were connected with Brooklyn for the first time. In combination with the completion of Staten Island’s three other major bridges, commuters were now able to travel much more freely between Staten Island, New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the rest of Long Island. Staten Island’s bridge system also paved the way for the creation of a network of highways on the island, further bolstering the Staten Island’s development.

Current day: Staten Island continues its trajectory of vibrancy and growth.

Thanks to the addition of its four bridges in the 1960s, Staten Island has seen rapid growth over the last half century, more than doubling its population between 1960 and today. Hundreds of brand new residential developments have recently broken ground, drawing an influx of residents from New York City’s other boroughs. In the late 1990s, Staten Island became home to a minor-league baseball team and a music conservatory, increasing the borough’s recreational facilities. Freshkills Park was created in 2008, and when the last stage of development is completed in 2035, Staten Island’s new flagship park will be almost three times the size of Manhattan’s Central Park. In short, Staten Island’s future looks to be bright and vibrant.

Conveniently located on Staten Island, The Brielle’s park-like setting provides a beautiful and relaxing backdrop for our full-service assisted living community. Please contact us today to learn more about our services and facilities.