PORT RICHMOND, Staten Island

by Kevin Walsh

The title is a little misleading; I’m here to praise Port Richmond, not to eulogize it. It’s just that rapid change seems to be coming to this former ferry and commuter town on Staten Island’s north shore and most of it isn’t good, if you like finely detailed, meticulously crafted architectural highlights.

I discovered Port Richmond…briefly…as early as the mid-1960s, when buses from Bay Ridge over the Verrazano Bridge extended their run from Clove Lakes Park to Richmond Terrace and Richmond Avenue. (Most of the major roads in Staten Island, Richmond County, are named Richmond.)

I seem to remember a bustling shopping district on Richmond Avenue and, unusually, a shopping stretch; in the 60s, it was one of Staten Island’s foremost.


Port Richmond has its beginnings in the 1690s and early 1700s when Dutch and French colonists settled here. After the landowning Haughwout family laid out the town’s tight street grid system in the 1830s the town became a commercial and industrial hub, and many of the buildings from Port Richmond’s “golden age” can still be found here. The Bayonne Bridge to New Jersey, the longest steel arch bridge in the world when it was completed, has provided a beautiful backdrop here since 1931.

Port Richmond has remained a commercial hub to the present, although the opening of the Staten Island Mall in the 1970s definitely put a dent in its fortunes. It remains the terminus of Staten Island’s main bus route from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the S53.

Port Richmond is an anachronism in more ways than one. It’s been passed by in the mall-ization of the island, as first Forest Avenue Shoppers Town, an early prototype mall, and then the mega-sized Staten Island Mall in New Springville siphoned away shoppers heretofore attracted to the main drag, Richmond Avenue. The island’s new building boom, located in Staten Island’s western and southern stretches, has also largely not included Port Richmond, so that its buildings are all fairly aged and in some cases rather forlorn-looking, though the de rigueur Fedders Specials are beginning to appear, as they are in most NYC neighborhoods.

One of the oldest structures in Port Richmond is the Reformed Church on Staten Island. The present church, which was built in 1844, is the third on the site. The first was built in 1715 and known as the Dutch Reformed Church; it was destroyed by fire during the Revolutionary War. The second was built in 1787. But the original church built in 1715 paled in age to the original “burying ground” it was constructed alongside, since the ancient cemetery dates to the late 1600s. The church and cemetery can be found at Port Richmond Avenue and Church Street. (The stretch of Richmond Avenue between Richmond Terrace and Forest Avenue was renamed Port Richmond Avenue in the late 1970s.)

Dead Railroad

ABOVE: Port Richmond Avenue from RR overpass; right: Tower Hill station at Sharpe Avenue. (May 2000 photos)

The north shore of Staten Island had passenger railroad service until 1953 when the Staten Island Rapid Transit‘s owner, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, closed it down for lack of patronage as the automobile continued to increase its dominance. Unusually, the old railroad infrastructure has been left in place in many spots, especially where it runs in an open cut or on a concrete elevated structure, and can be reactivated if it could be deemed feasible; while a return to passenger service is unfortunately unlikely, freight service to New Jersey may be in the cards as the Arthur Kill Bridge has recently undergone repairs and been reopened. The line, built in the 1880s, ran at grade until 1935 when it was raised above the street.

The lengthy brick building on the east side of Port Richmond Avenue between Richmond Terrace and Church Street was built in 1874 for Charles Griffith, a boot and shoe dealer, and is known as the Griffith Block. Directly abutting it on Richmond Terrace until 1945 was the St. James Hotel, known to be the last home of Aaron Burr, the third Vice President.

The Ritz Theatre, Port Richmond Avenue and Anderson Street, was built in 1924 with more than 2100 seats. Believe it or not, it was a prime rock venue in the 60s and 70s; the Kinks and Jethro Tull have played here. Since 1985 it has been the showroom for a tile company.

This massive building at Anderson Street and Park Avenue with six Ionic columns was once a Masonic temple, but it serves now as a community center and HQ for the local Catholic Youth Organization, ironic since the Masons and the Catholic Church have been traditional opponents.

A pair of sign designs from what appear to be the 1940s and 1970s on Port Richmond Avenue (photographed in 2005)

The Staten Island Advance spoke to the owners of the New Dinette in early 2006 about Port Richmond’s nascent revival:

If you ask Pete and Dora Skokos about Port Richmond Avenue, they’ll tell you it’s never been better. That’s their view from behind the counter of the New Dinette Restaurant at 187 Richmond Ave.

Don’t let the name fool you — there’s nothing “new” about this eatery. It still has the long diner-type counter with 10 stools and eight booths. It’s been in existence for decades, but under the operation of the Skokoses for the past 25 years.

“We’ve gone through several periods of changes in this community and, frankly, I think it’s improving,” explained Pete, who jokes he works “eight days a week.”

The New Dinette sits just opposite Harrison Avenue and smack in the middle of the once-famous Richmond Avenue shopping strip that extends from Beekman Street to Richmond Terrace. It featured businesses of all kinds from Loft’s where you could buy a box of candy for your sweetie or, if you were really crazy for her, a Cadillac at Crest Cadillac without ever leaving the “avenue.”
Sure, a lot of the changes resulted in the vanishing of once-popular stores like Lobels, Paul’s Men’s Shop, Garber Brothers, Archie Jacobson, jewelry stores like Reed’s and Goldwyn, bakeries, dress shops, record shops and meeting places like Stechman’s, the Ritz Tavern and theaters like the Palace, the Ritz and even the Empire down on the Terrace. The 5- and 10-cent stores included Fischer Beer, Woolworth and Kresge’s, Richmond Dry Goods, and so much more.” read the whole thing

Architecture buffs, help me out here. What are these items called? Port Richmond Avenue first, and then Richmond Terrace.

I can’t say for sure but this Port Richmond Ave. baker might be a Star Trek: Voyager fan, since the artwork bears some resemblance to Mr. Neelix, or maybe I’m being overimaginative.

Two generations of bank construction on Port Richmond Avenue.

The Leo Building, and one of the aforementioned former Port Richmond Avenue businesses, Lobels.


Richmond Terrace south of Port Richmond Avenue: Now the headquarters of Farrell Lumber, Port Richmond’s Empire Theater, with its two castle spires, was built in 1916 and closed for good, following a run as a porno palace, in 1978. It was designed by Port Richmond resident James Whitford.

Revealed Toscana Food Market sign, Port Richmond Avenue.

Port Richmond’s crosswalks and lampposts were installed in 1983, the result of a $1.2 million commercial revitalization project paid for by Federal Community Development block grants and planned by the Northfield Community Local Development Corporation, a private, nonprofit organization.

By 2006 they look very much of their time, when minimalist street sign and lamppost designs were the rage.

Behind the crosswalk, at Port Richmond Avenue and Post Avenue, is an incredible wall mural marking the site of an old theatre. Strangely I did not snap it on the day in 2005 I was there (if any Forgotten Fans can help me out with this it’d be appreciated).

Two blocks east of Port Richmond Avenue, its namesake neighborhood’s main shopping street, you find Heberton Avenue, one of New York’s hidden gems of preserved late 19th century architecture. The gems here reflect Port Richmond’s former status of commercial pre-eminence. Veterans Park, a town green between Park and Heberton Avenues and Bennett Street, overlooks a Carnegie Library and an A-framed house best described as a fantasy. Intriguingly, until the mid-20th Century Heberton was Herberton, with an extra “r.”

Port Richmond was a transportation hub for decades; horsecar, trolley and bus lines fed traffic to Bergen’s Ferry Landing, where boats crossed the Kill Van Kull to Bayonne. Manufacturing centered along Richmond Terrace, then as now, an industrial strip.

LEFT: 121 Heberton Avenue: This residence, constructed by carpenter-builder James G. Burger around 1859-61, is a rare surviving example in New York City of a picturesque villa in Rustic style. Notable features include the handsome bracketed door and window surrounds and the cross-gabled roof with overhanging eaves enriched with unusual braces. soon after its completion, this house passed to Captain John J. Housman,a prosperous oysterman and noted abolitionist. The house was leased to tenants until 1892 when it was acquired by Robert Brown, the owner of a neighboring saloon who held a number of offices in the Port Richmond government. The house remained in the ownership of the Brown family until the 1940s. info: nyc.gov

RIGHT: cottage from the same era at Ann Street and Park Avenue.

Old Public School 20 at Heberton and New Street was built in 1891 with an addition in 1898. It is the last clock-towered school building in Staten Island and is now a senior center.

Port Richmond’s library, here in 1905 view just after it opened, is at Bennett and Heberton Avenues opposite Veterans Park. Funds from industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie were emloyed to fund it; Carrere and Hastings, builders of Staten Island’s Borough Hall, were the architects. Other Carnegie libraries can be found throughout the city.

The stretch of Heberton Avenue between Ann Street and Post Avenue rivals St. Mark’s Place in St. George, Wards Hill and St. Paul’s Avenue in Stapleton for the variety and beauty of the dwellings you will find there. Too often, though, I found “for sale” signs on the front lawn. How many of these buildings will survive? Can any of them last beyond our era of cheap, multi-family houses?

Grace Methodist Church (now Faith United) at Heberton and Castleton Avenues, built 1897.

Heberton east of Castleton. This house belonged to one of the Deckers, a prominent Staten Island family.

Attached brick houses, Heberton Avenue near Ann Street. Right: bluestone sidewalks and white picket fences. The streets of heaven are lined with them.

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church stands at a bend in Jewett Avenue north of Post. The church was established in 1852 with the present building erected in 1901; note the accompanying churchyard. Jewett Avenue is named for early 19th Century whaler John Jewett, who became a wealthy linseed oil manufacturer.

Future Star Studios, Post Avenue near Jewett, and (left) unusual pizzeria sign.

A newish Heberton Avenue building has a plaque recognizing the founder of the resident treatment facility.

 Is the party over…for aficionados of decent architecture in Port Richmond? Anonymous brick objects are appearing here, as well as in every other non-landmarked part of town.

Photographed in 2000, 2003 and 2005


©2006 Midnight Fish






dm funk November 2, 2011 - 12:01 am

this is a great site that i was not aware until i happened upon it via facebook (secret staten island). i thank those who have made this possible – nyc is old and ever changing but nopt all change is good. thank you for taking the time out to make sure us old cobwebs stay as sharp as we’d like. bravo!

Forgotten Staten Island: A Photo Essay | This Big City February 13, 2013 - 6:17 am

[…] “The north shore of Staten Island is a fairly Godforsaken place. There, I have said it.” Another post on Forgotten NY refers to Port Richmond as a “Fading […]

Toscana Food Market – Port Richmond, SI – Fading Ad Blog November 15, 2013 - 7:51 pm

[…] out Kevin Walsh’s Forgotten posting on Port Richmond! […]

ana September 9, 2014 - 2:04 pm

in the last photo of attached homes, there used to be ONE large, beautiful brick home with decent size property.

Rob Weingartner March 14, 2016 - 5:40 pm

Do you happen to have any photos of the old Cuff’s Restaurant on Richmond Terrace, right near the bottom of Port Richmond Ave? It was there in the 1940’s.

Jorge Aviles February 26, 2017 - 12:38 pm

Are they building a park. Near Nicholas ave and slaights st. Port richmond 10302

Lois Perry Lynn July 30, 2017 - 5:15 pm

Thanks so much for these photos! Loved seeing the places I remember as a kid. The Ritz Theater building, PS 20 where my mother (Lillian Aagre Perry) went to school, the Dutch Reformed Church where my Dad (Walter Perry) was a scoutmaster for about 20 years, elevated and ground level train tracks, the library on Bennett Street that I walked to from my home on Dickie Avenue in Westerleigh, and many others. My paternal grandfather (Charles “Duke” Perry) was an engineer on the Staten Island RR, and my maternal grandfather (Jorgen Aagre) helped build and was a member of Zion Lutheran Church (now St. Philip’s Baptist Church) next to the library on Bennett Street.

Really enjoyed your site. Now I’m older than dirt (88) and living in Las Vegas.y

Michael Kirkman August 19, 2017 - 7:03 am

I’m on a genealogical mission and found this site with great stuff on Richmond Avenue and surrounds. It’s a long shot but I am looking for help finding anything about Abram (Abraham) Pearson Longbottom, a fascinating (to me) relative from the 1880’s. He was an English Civil Engineer and Businessman who I last find living with his family on Richmond Avenue in the 1880 U.S. Census. The enumerator of the census has either forgotten to include house numbers or number 34 Richmond Avenue was a large building housing many tenants. On the census forms there are 3 or 4 pages after number 34 is listed, before it lists residents of Herberton Ave.
I have put 5 years into researching Longbottom but can find no trace of him after the 1880 census and I believe he died between June 1880 and 1885, and is buried on Staten Island. I’ve checked the usual sources of genealogical web sites and the U.S. Newspaper archive.

Can anyone suggest an historian or Port Richmond specialist I can discuss my quest with?

Thank You

John_Dillinga August 26, 2017 - 6:17 am

The painting of the baker has been there for as long as I can remember growing up in Port Richmond in the 80’s and 90’s. I do know that shop has been there a long time, so… I’m assuming the painting has been there a long before any of the modern Star Trek series where aired.

John_Dillinga August 26, 2017 - 6:26 am

Also there are currently plans on the table to rebuild the old North Shore Railroad Right Of Way into a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit line, which could also be converted into a Light Rail format if passenger use exceeded the BRT’s capacity. There are a growing group of residents pushing for the Project to be started as mainline Bus service is struggling to keep up with Passenger demands on the North Shore and fears that lack of service increases along the Richmond Terrace corridor for when the Outlet Mall opens next year will make commuting by Bus to the Ferry a Nightmare for residents.

Brian Post April 8, 2018 - 5:08 pm

Trying to locate the Post Family home. I was told Post Avenue was named after them.

Mary Louise Bullock April 20, 2018 - 6:57 am

Posts were congregants of the Reformed Church at 54 Port Richmond Ave. Street is named after them

Mary Louise Bullock April 20, 2018 - 6:57 am

I love this site. Thanks so much for all your posts.

Laura May 8, 2018 - 8:20 pm

In agreement with Mary Louise! Your site is fantastic. I’m in Atlanta and have only been to NYC for shows, but finding my ancestors all over the place in NY, Long Island, Staten Island, Mohawk Valley, New Palz. Your site’s historic perspectives combined with today’s architecture is so much fun.

Brian Mc Donnell July 18, 2018 - 10:21 am

Anyone remembers Pappy`s Restaurant on Richmond Ave. Great jewish food. Im looking for a picture of the store front.

colleen Murtha December 30, 2018 - 5:40 pm

I was just looking for that Brian.

Nancy rehorn March 3, 2019 - 2:27 pm

Nancy Barbara Rehorn In port Richmond near the movie theatre – what was the name of the restaurant with a piano in the middle of the tables?

Anonymous March 20, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Thanks so much for this site. My great great grandfather John Davis raised a family in Brooklyn, then lived in Port Richmond at 83 Harrison St. and from an obit I just learned he was active in the Port Richmond Masonic Lodge (and in Brooklyn Lodges) and the Richmond Park Avenue Church. He died in 1906 and the church held services for him as well as the Lodge.

Deecee June 13, 2019 - 4:44 pm

Love all these pics, brings back a lot of memories. I lived in PR during the 80s. BTW, it’s Anderson Avenue not Anderson Street-that’s where we lived at the end of the block, a few houses away from Simonson Place.

MJ O'Keeffe June 13, 2019 - 5:54 pm

Its Anderson AVENUE….not Anderson St. I grew up in 11 Anderson Ave. Thanks for the memories those. I teared up looking at the pics of PS 20, where i attended, and Faith United Methodist, where i was enrolled in preschool. I remember roller skating at the Ritz and going to the CYO after school.

RAM August 6, 2019 - 1:13 pm

The big annual Curtis – New Dorp HS football game was played in PR on Thanksgiving. I went to these at Weissglass Stadium and later the PRHS field.
See https://expo.silive.com/sports/g66l-2019/01/238588f6763795/greatest-rivalries-remember-when-curtisnew-dorp-football-was-like-armynavy.html
and Jay Price’s book.

phyllis demartinis September 9, 2019 - 9:08 am

I have lived in the same house on Park Ave for 65 years and remember most of the old stores on The Avenue, but can’t remember who was at the corner of Richmond & Vreeland before Goldwyns Jewelers..

Diane January 12, 2020 - 8:30 pm

What was the name of the Chinese restaurant that was on Forest Avenue (near Jewett but not on the corner) that was “in front” of PathMark supermarket? This was in the 1990’s


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