I plan on spending more time in Staten Island in late fall and winter. Like the Bronx, there are unplumbed treasure troves of Forgotten-ania to be found there. Happily, the island was not lost to New Jersey by Captain Billopp in a sailing race in the 1600s, as the apocryphal story goes.
St. Peter’s Roman Catholic parish on St. Mark’s Place in St. George (there’s three saints right there) is the oldest in Staten Island, having been established in 1839. Previously, Staten Islanders had to travel across the bay by boat to Manhattan to celebrate Sunday Mass and participate in church activities. During the late 1840′s, a quarantine hospital was built in Tompkinsville to house the thousands of Irish immigrants who contracted cholera on their way to America. Father Patrick Murphy, pastor of St. Peter’s at the time, died from the same disease because he administered Last Rites to the many Catholics who died in this hospital. The original church stood from 1844 until it burned down in 1897; the present church, with its tall campanile that can be seen for miles and from across the bay, was finished in 1903.