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STATIONS OF THE STATEN ISLAND RAILWAY, Part 6

Stone Island Cotton T-Shirt in WhiteTottenville can unofficially be referred to as New York State’s southernmost city (officially, New York Metropolis is). British naval officer captain Christopher Billopp was its first European settler in 1678, and inside a couple of years, had built a stone mansion on the foot of today’s Hylan Boulevard that may determine prominently in American historical past as the Conference House. The Billopps remained Tories, loyal to the British, all through the Revolution and so had their lands confiscated at the top of the Revolution. The story goes that Staten Island is an element of latest York State, not New Jersey, because Capt. Billopp received a guess that he might circumnavigate Staten Island in in the future.

The Totten family owned a considerable amount of property in the world in the 18th Century, and after a collection of names like Unionville, Bentley Dock, and others, the village settled on a name befitting its major property holders. It was formerly home to shipbuilding, oyster harvesting, and the manufacture of terra cotta.

Regardless of its remoteness Tottenville has been the terminus of the South Shore line of the Staten Island Railway since the 1860s, and three of the island’s major roads, Arthur Kill Road, Amboy Highway and Hylan Boulevard, also lead right here.

Staten Island’s First Families

Postcard view of Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, Amboy Highway and Bethel Avenue, constructed to change an earlier structure in-built 1841 that burned down in 1886; the substitute church was raised later that yr. There has been a congregation since 1823.

The older view is from 1925. Some of the spires have been removed since. Realms of History: The Cemeteries of Staten Island, Patricia Salmon, 2006

A listing of the interred at the cemetery behind the church reads like a Staten Island street map. Tottens, Bedells, Woods, Spragues, Manees, Sleights, Mersereaus, Androvettes, Deckers…the first burial was William Sleight, 3, who died December 3, 1841.

Nassau

Our subsequent SIRT station is a bit laborious to find. From the church and cemetery, a stroll to the top of Bethel Avenue, left at St. Andrews Place, after which we find some twisted metal with some broken sodium lamps connected. This is the entrance to our next stop.

The overhead crossover has misplaced its roof, the unique thirties railings are nonetheless in place, the staircases are unlit (learn: the lights are smashed), and the station platforms are illuminated by mercury bulbs that likely date to the early 1960s. Even the station’s identify displays a defunct enterprise:

Nassau Smelting & Refining Co.’s plant was built in 1900 on the Richmond Valley line of Tottenville. The smelting works (Tottenville Copper Firm) was bought by Western Electric in 1931, another result of Depression occasions. In 1971 it grew to become a steel recycling plant and renamed Nassau Recycling Company. It is now a part of Lucent Technologies. Angie Mangino

Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Hammerin’ Hank had been swatting ’em over the wall when these mercury lamps have been first installed at Nassau. Within the 60s, these would have made George Jetson envious. However, the MTA hasn’t touched them since, besides to perhaps replace the bulbs. Do they work?

We would imagine that the MTA has merely forgotten that Nassau exists. There’s a cause for this decrepitude, a very thin one, but a motive, which we’ll mention after we see our subsequent SIRT station. Final time I used to be here, the platform signs have been wood planks with the phrase “Nassau” stenciled on (an arrangement most SIRT stations used to have), so the MTA has installed black and white signage.

We now encounter Arthur Kill Highway, one of many longest roads in the broough, which twists and turns for mile after mile just south of Staten Island’s western shore, running by Richmond Town, Eltingville, Greenridge, Arden Heights, Rossville, Charleston, and finally tottenville, where it staggers to a close at the waterway it is named for. It’s an amalgamation of a number of roads and assumed its current title sometime in the early 20th Century.

As I’ve stated, I remember taking the S74 (then the R74) down this dusty observe in the summer time by way of acres of nothingness, just woods punctuated by a home here and there, within the 1970s. Some stretches of the highway are nonetheless like that. When the bus reached Tottenville, I’d suppose, civilization ultimately.

A road named Ellis Street runs west alongside the SIRT from Arthur Kill Street. When we take it we find…

..some seafood…

…and some very previous houses, either alongside Ellis or on the odd alley resembling Weir Lane. A weir is a gadget positioned in a stream to dam it or catch fish, so it’s possible they have been employed right here.

The remains of Tottenville’s maritime repair trade can be discovered right here.

A effectively-stored previous house is house to an art, music and dance college. Meaning, of course that there’s a SIRT station nearby.

Atlantic

Atlantic, accessible from Ellis Road or simply off Arthur Kill Highway, is in better shape than Nassau, however simply. It’s illuminated by sodium lamps on its crossover and in the battered shacks that function shelters, and a couple of lights on close by phone poles. The platform is just prolonged enough to accommodate one SIRT automotive, which is keyed open by the trainperson.

Atlantic is named after one other defunct business, the Atlantic Terra Cotta Firm, as soon as considered one of Staten Island’s largest employers, who made the decorative supplies used on skyscrapers (including the Woolworth Constructing, Coney Island’s Child’s Restaurant, and Philadelphia Museum of Art) and for fireplace-resistant cladding. The company’s smokestack was a familiar Tottenville landmark for eighty years till 1988 with the demolition of the 135 foot construction.

Each Nassau and Atlantic have had deferred maintanance, or somewhat, no maintence, for several a long time. Rumor has persisted for years that the MTA intends to demolish each and exchange with a brand new Arthur Kill station midway between the 2. The MTA should not less than shore up the 2 stations earlier than they each crumble onto the tracks.

Fosher Avenue houses. The Tottenville Historical Society has encouraged the installation of a number of signs encouraging “hometown pride” with a blank house the place homeowners can fill in the house’s date of building.

394 Causes to Adore it

All you possibly can say is wow. The house formerly belonging to Dr. Henry Litvak was in-built 1895 and, after all, once resembled the houses close to it on Lee Avenue. But in 1941 designer Eugene Megnin bought hold of it, and took issues to a different level…

…in the model, the AIA Information to New York Metropolis says, of the avant-garde French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, a pal of Le Corbusier.

The putting exterior uses 394 glass blocks (your webmaster counted them). This type of architecture, you either dig it or you don’t. It’s important to like the meticulously hand lettered signal promoting the doctors who work inside. To be honest, the building might use a reno as lots of the glass blocks look cracked.

I hadn’t known Tottenville to be a hotbed of NYC tourism but you can’t swing a useless cat without hitting a gifte shoppe. These two face each other at Amboy Street and Yetman Avenue.

When Tottenville was still a small oyster fishing village in 1904, it received its very personal world-class Classical Revival library building due to millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The Tottenville Library was designed by the prolific firm of John stone island field jacket khaki Carrere and Thomas Hastings, who also masterminded the good primary branch at 5th Avenue and West 42nd Street and the Staten Island Borough Hall.

Egger’s is the Tottenville department of a venerable Staten Island ice cream parlor in business on Forest Avenue on the north shore since 1933.

Inside Egger’s

The Scented Cottage, at Amboy Street and Johnson Avenue, overdoes it only a bit.

Tottenville is blessed with not one however two street clocks alongside Amboy Road, each of latest vintage. The first is on the Bedell-Pizzo Funeral Dwelling, the second at the SW corner of Principal Avenue, Tottenville’s most important crossroads.

The somewhat forlorn Tottenville war memorial flagpole is on the NW nook of Amboy and Major.

A short stroll on Foremost Avenue north from Tottenville’s epicenter at Predominant and Amboy reveals several historical wonders such because the outdated Stadium Theater, which is fairly obscure; it hosted rock concerts and contained a roller rink in the 1970s. this building was slated for demolition as far again as 2004 however issues go gradual in these elements.

The grand Masonic Temple, previously housing Tottenville’s post office, is at 236; its terra cotta ornamentation comes courtesy of the previous Atlantic works. A newer PO is subsequent door.

Primary Avenue. 1890s-1900s architecture will sometime be acknowledged as certainly one of the good wonders of the world. They won’t ever build like this again.

Doubling again to Amboy Highway, at Swinnerton Avenue we find…

St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church, constructed 1883 in Romanesque revival, gained, or regained, a bell tower in 1883. Once i visted tottenville as a teenager in the early 1970s, there was not much but woods south of the church. Streets have been lower through and houses constructed, and it appears as if they’ve all the time been there.

Bentley Avenue

Bentley Road, formerly Bentley Dock Road, is the road that goes to our final cease, and could also be Tottenville’s nicest residential street…

Might these houses have been built for 19th Century ship captains or shipyard owners?

I saved one of the best one for last…

And also you didn’t suppose green, gold and purple went together. That’s a wraparound porch with a water view. The water is the Arthur Kill but still.

Double death. Mighty Arthur Kill Road, which begins its march to Richmond Town here, peters out on the water’s edge, as does Bentley Avenue.

End of the road

Geographia Maps still relatively comically marks the outdated Tottenville-Perth Amboy ferry.

Through the colonial period and for a significant time thereafter, Tottenville was an important manner-station for travelers between New York Metropolis (of which Staten Island did not formally turn into an element till 1898) and Philadelphia, because it was the location of a ferry that crossed the Arthur Kill to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. This ferry turned much less necessary when the Outerbridge Crossing opened in 1928, however continued to operate until 1963. wikipedia

The only remnant of the ferry is the old piles that supported the ferry dock. On the opposite aspect, Perth Amboy has restored its ferry landing which it hopes will result in direct ferry service to Manhattan.

Till 1963 the Staten Island Rapid Transit’s Tottenville Branch began and ended with intermodal terminals, ie. you possibly can change from the train to a ferry. NY State’s southernmost rail station has lately been modestly renovated, with a new pedestrian stroll to Bentley sstreet, and a crossover at the north facet of the station. It’s about fifty five minutes from right here to St. George Terminal.

Pictures: February 24. Web page completed March thirteen.

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