by Kevin Walsh

STATEN ISLAND is disappearing fast. Every year more and more of Staten Island’s legacy of eclectic architecture disappears as row upon row of little boxes that all look just the same encroach upon and destroy classic stylings from the 18th and 19th Centuries. In Staten Island, old homes are thought of as impediments to the conformity of multi-family homes, in which the corner grocery and neighborhood movie palace shall fall before the awe and wonder of the Staten Island Mall.

It should be emphasized that few of the buildings depicted here are in immediate danger of demolition. But the trends toward utter faceless suburbanization in Staten Island are unquestionable…


In Pleasant Plains, some of the older buildings gamely hang on against the onslaught. The “1914” building is on Amboy Road near the Staten Island Rapid Transit overpass; 6475 Amboy, at right, dates to about 1820.


The grand World War I monument depicting “Winged Victory” by Tottenville sculptor George Brewster seems out-of-place on the mall bisecting Pleasant Plains Avenue. The original was placed here in 1918, but merciless traffic took its toll and after several accidents, it was removed for repairs in 1974, placed in storage on Randalls Island and promptly stolen. In 1991, funds were obtained for a faithful reproduction of the original, and the plaza welcomed “Winged Victory,” which doesn’t resemble its cousin in the Louvre, back in 1996. The statue bears a plaque containing the names of 493 WWI veterans from Staten Island’s south shore.

Pleasant Plains Avenue was apparently widened so it could be a feeder route to the West Shore expressway extension, Shore Front Drive, which would swing south and west along the southern edge of Richmond Valley and Tottenville. It didn’t happen, and Pleasant Plains Avenue is a wide boulevard that doesn’t go very far, extending only to an expressway service road.

This saltbox palace at 4746 Amboy Road near Arden Avenue in Eltingville is called Brougham Cottage, and according to sources, was built in 1720.

Most of Staten Island’s 17th and 18th Century buildings were removed to the Richmondtown Reservation in the mid-20th Century, but not this one.


This is the smallest Roman Catholic church I’ve ever seen, on Northern Blvd. in Sunnyside near Clove Lakes Park.


A Sanitation building on Brook Street in New Brighton, three mayors later.

Three scenes from Stapleton, one of Staten Island’s oldest communities and a hotbed of the brewing trade since its inception in 1833, anchored by Bechtel’s, Hohrmann’s and Piel’s, now long-lost. The community was named for William Staples, who purchased its acreage from Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Much of its old architecture is intact, like the early 19th Century houses on Thompson Street (top left) and the now-shuttered 1935 Paramount Theater on Bay Street.

Staten Island is the hilliest of the 5 boroughs, and is the only borough that provides views of moderately high mountains. Grymes Hill can be seen when you look west along Boyd Street.

The abandoned, burnt-out hulk of the Augustinian Academy, a former Catholic boys’ school, shambles on Campus Road near Howard Avenue in Grymes Hill. The property is now owned by nearby Wagner College. The academy has been in this condition for decades, and has been thoroughly chronicled by urban explorers for years: visits St. Aug’s

Your webmaster attended a few classes in this very building in the fall of 1974; I never dreamed it would attain this level of decrepitude.


Scattered around the city are more reminders of horse and buggy days than you may think. The brass hitching post and curb block, to which passengers alit in the days before paved streets, can be found on Longview Road in Park Hill.


The Abraham Wood House, 5910 Amboy Road near Seguine Avenue, was built in 1840 by the oysterman and farmer. An artificial pond can be seen directly across the street.

Jean Siegel, our gal in Staten Island, tipped off Forgotten NY that Sweetbrook Road in Eltingville isn’t just a name… it’s by a real brook, with a series of wooden and stone bridges crossing it. One is marked “1996” so it must be relatively new. Didn’t try crossing any of the bridges though, since the watchdogs in Richmond County are the biggest and meanest on the East Coast. It’s a fact.


Richmond Terrace has a wealth of ancient buildings clanking about its 3-mile length along the Kill Van Kull on the island’s north shore. The Tysen-Neville House (or the Neville-Tysen House) at 806 Richmond Terrace near Tysen Street was built about 1800. It acquired its porches and hexagonal cupola around 1910.

In the 1800s, retired sailors from nearby Sailor’s Snug Harbor frequented a tavern located in this building called The Old Stone Jug. It was saved from demolition in 1991 by a coalition including the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and Housing Services of NY, which provided a loan of $91,000 for repairs. The house is currently privately owned.


Richmond Terrace has, so far, been able to avoid the overbuilding epidemic plaguing so much of Staten Island and looks much the way it must have decades ago. Ancient houses, mansions, factories and plants have survived.


Staten Island, like the other four boroughs, was crisscrossed with trolleys that took power from overhead wires. One of the trolley yards was at Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue in Eltingville, and the old-time trolley poles have been kept as stanchions for high-intesnity lighting as the trolley space is now used to turn buses around.

These are, perhaps, the last photos ever taken of New Brighton Village Hall at Fillmore and Lafayette Avenues, by our own Jean Siegel in January 2004. Soon after, the building had been razed. It had stood there since 1871. Its third floor and mansard roof had already been shaved off.


You’ll be forgiven if you miss the Woods of Arden House at 45-15 Hylan Boulevard near Woods of Arden Road… it’s set well back from the street, and you’ll pass it by if you don’t look carefully. It was built in 1720 and was owned by Jacques Poillon (his family owned a lot of property in Eltingville in the colonial era) and from 1846-1853 byFrederick Law Olmstead, the co-creator of Central and Prospect Parks, who remodeled the house and planted two cedars of Lebanon on the grounds that still stand. It’s so surrounded by vegetation that it’s hard to see even in winter.


South Avenue in Mariners Harbor is succumbing rapidly to urban “development” but a small cluster of 1880s-era homes remain. They will likely fall soon.


Time to get the ferry back to town, but not before observing the decades-only SIRT signal at St. George. There are some express trains that skip stations during rush hours. [By 2005 the terminal had been renovated and the signals removed]

Holden’s Staten Island, Richard Dickinson, Central Migration Studies 2003
BUY this book at Amazon.COM

These images were photographed at various times between 1999 and 2004 and your webmaster completed this page’s composition November 24, 2004.


Stryder Douglas Mastrandrea August 22, 2012 - 8:29 pm

Very cool. I saw many of these mostly on the south shore. Hylan Blvd. etc. I would love to see some of them restored.

Bob January 8, 2013 - 11:38 pm

Does anyone have photos of any of the taverns/bars like the Hitching Post that was near the Outerbridge Crossing?
I’m about to have my 70th b’day, but have many pleasant memories of driving over the Outerbridge Crossing from Perth Amboy between the ages of 18 – 21 with my buddies to enjoy beer and Slim Jims at the Hitching Post – there was a horse statue by the front door.

We also took the ferry boat from Perth Amboy (did this more often than using the bridge, more fun!) to Staten Island (25 cents each way), As soon as we drove off the ferry just a little bit up the hilly rd (anyone know the name of that road?), there was a small tavern on the left called “Blind Johns”. We would drink beers and shoot pool, was easy to see the ferry crossing the river, so we knew when to get ready for the ride back to Perth Amboy.

Two other bars that were not too far from Blind Johns were Doobies and the Aquahunda (both probably misspelled). The former had a large refrigerator in the shape of a beer bottle close to the bar.

If anyone reading this has any photos of any of these bars, please share them with me.

Sharing your stories about these hallowed watering holes would be cool as well.

Thank you,


Linda clark December 27, 2013 - 5:28 pm

The tavern that you are referencing as “Blind John’s” belonged to my great uncle AC Andersen though I don’t think it was called BJ’s in the 50s. I think I might have a photo of it somewhere. If you are interested, I’ll see if I can find it.

john o'connor July 25, 2014 - 1:31 am

linda, my great great grandfather was john o’connor and he owned the building in the photo above with the castoria ad painted on the side.he purchased it around 1885 and i think he may have run the saloon on the street level. he died young in 1893 and was largely forgotten even by his own family. if you have any pictures or information on the surrounding area i would love to hear it. i’m at johnoinny at mac (dot) com



Bob December 4, 2020 - 1:05 am

Linda Clark,
I would greatly appreciate any photo of the Blind John’s Tavern.
Please look for it and let me know either way.
Many thanks,

Sarah October 27, 2014 - 1:58 pm

The Staten Island Historical Society / Historic Richmond Town has photos of the Hitching Post Restaurant in its collection. Please see the web site at and get in touch if you are still interested.

Gary Thurston March 29, 2018 - 1:51 pm

Just found your post, and it brought back many fond memories. I was a big fight fan, and used to go there when I was 18 to watch “Friday Night at the Fights from Gillette”!
I remember the Hitching Post, but don’t recall the other two you mentioned.

Thanks for the memory,


Bob January 8, 2013 - 11:45 pm

Adding to my former note regarding old “watering holes” we also enjoyed the occasional drive to more “upscale” night spots like PBI (Princess Bay Inn) and the Christmas Tree, both off Hylan Blvd I think.

I saw my first really good rock ‘n roll band at the Christmas Tree – they were performing the Beatles birthday song as I walked in, sounded just like the record, I was awestruck!

Photos and stories definitely appreciated!

Thanks again,


Nick November 12, 2015 - 7:27 pm

Had many a great Friday nights in those places. How about the Standard Club? Best pickled eggs going! Little Shoals, Big Shoals, the Beachcomber! On a very lucky night if you know what I mean, drinking out on the point of Tottenville beach. There used to be a big piece of tree type drift wood. If you saw a beer can on top you knew there were no vacancys.

Nick November 12, 2015 - 7:35 pm

Oh yea! Almost forgot The Driftwood! One of the most crowded bars in 67 – 68.

Emily S Bell May 4, 2016 - 6:43 pm

What a joy to your website is. I grew up on Staten Island in Arrochar. I have a feeling that the house I grew up in was pretty old–40 Columbia Ave, Arrochar. I think it was part of an estate. My mother is buried in Moravian Cemetery.. It was such a perfect place to grow up; rural in some places with the City a stone’s throw away. It was a time (I was born in 1940) that it was considered safe to go to the City alone–I was maybe 9 at the time-my mother would give me a errand like buy a handkerchief at Kleins. Clipped to my coat was my name and address and telephone number. She was helping me feel confident about traveling. I spent lots of time riding on buses around the island. Can you imagine this happening today? No way! Some of my favorite memories are wandering around Times Square at night when I was a teenager. The usual Damon Runyon characters were hanging around and if a man swore in front me, a prostitute would yell at him, “hey, watch your mouth, there is a young lady present!” Again can you imagine that happening today?
It greatly saddens me that greed and short sightedness are determining the Islands future. Thank you for reminding us of its rich heritage.

Edward John Jeske November 20, 2018 - 7:26 pm

You need to stop living in the past only and start to get active in saving land and buildings. I have cried to get help to get some land and buildings to do real life but everyone wants to be a cheap ass, an arm chair professional, living in dream land tge equivalent of being induced in a dreaming coma, but not of anyone has gotten off their ass to help me get anything donated to save let alone lifting a finger to do real work themselves. You should be all ashamed of yourselves compared to our ancesstors but that is how you can defined not only as foreign but alien. Just think that you wouldnt even have had the opportunity that you had had our anscestors not fought against the tyranny of social. I challenge just one of you to come off the ass and do a real days worth of work compared to the spoiled, foreign, wall street, drugged out, brain dead soziallizing kids you all became. I guarantee without somehow to incite you not a Goddamned one of you will stop your incessant whining let alone come off the ass and help to save Fairview Park, the last high-ground unbuilt land on Staten Island something of REAL importance that provides life not just buildings of ILL REPUTE and A TESTIMONY TO ALL OF YOUR INSANE SOCIALIZED ACTIVITIES and THE VERY NECROTIZING SOCIETY YOU ALL PUSHED TO KILL THE REAL PEOPLE THAT USED TO EXIST BEFORE YOUR INVASIONS. The sad part is most of you are such sozial droans you can’t even conceive that the falling of those buildings is just another era in the societie’s plans to kill off REAL LIFE not just by short term destruction of ecology, but by slowly having conditioned wave after wave of socializers dealer into dependency on an artificial reality which is more deadly now then in the past. Kids come out the womb with 200+ toxic chemicals that the body cannot detoxify and you whine and snivel over the remnants of an earlier destruction phase. Until you step out back to before 1500 and develop REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE, you will never have a clue how screwed- up you are.

Terry McCarthy January 6, 2019 - 8:06 pm

Just learned that my great grandfather, James McCarthy, owned a bar and small farm near the entrance to the Bayonne Bridge is now located, in the late 1800s to early 1900’s. I’d appreciate any info on this.

sheila langilotti May 16, 2019 - 11:53 am

i grew up in Princes Bay. on a side street down seguine ave by the beach stands an old building we called the Christmas tree inn. I don’t think this is the right name. anyway it housed people who were disabled. I passed by today, saw it was boarded up. im looking for the correct name and who might own it. anybody know anything about it?

James Whelan February 6, 2020 - 3:29 pm

Does anyone recall…”CLUB BRAZIL” at 86 Mills Avenue in South Beach in the 70’s and 80’s ? It was a gay bar,on the ground floor of a white and blue wooden-framed house.Tucked-away on a totally residential street,in far less visible and tolerant times for gays. It was very popular during the disco craze; (1976-82).Sadly in those days,gays had to hide and live secret,double lives.This small bar with dance floor brought people together in the days long before cell phones,home-computers,social-media and wireless technology.

LEIA October 20, 2020 - 4:07 pm

I’m looking for a location of “Clar, Clare, or Clark Manor” in Arrochar Staten Island. Any ideas?


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