by Kevin Walsh

Forgotten NY correspondent

WITH more than two decades of travels around the city, what hasn’t Kevin Walsh already seen? In the Staten Island neighborhood of Eltingville, Kevin documented the southern tip of Richmond Avenue, which runs from the north shore to its southern end here. On my visit to this location in winter, there was an unusual structure behind the bus turnaround at Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue whose use was unclear from its appearance.

During the warm months it is obscured by trees and nearly impossible to see, but in winter I was not sure if it was a roundhouse, carousel, or a chapel. Next to the round structure is a building with a pediment, which could be anything from industrial to religious.

On a closer look, next to the round building is a ramp and a semicircular building with arches in an arrangement that resembles a train shed. A sign behind the fence on the corner of Richmond Avenue and Prol Place identifies the two structures as the Richmond Avenue Pumping Station. Constructed in 1990, it carries 10 million gallons of sewage per day to the Oakwood Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant. Like the more famous North River Sewage Treatment Plant in Manhattan that has a state park on its roof, this humble pumping station was designed to fit into the neighborhood, because most of us would not want to live next to such a facility.

Richmond Avenue has its southern end at Tennyson Drive, a lovely name likely inspired by the Victorian poet Lord Alfred Tennyson. Trees obscure the view of Raritan Bay. They are part of Crescent Beach, a collection of undeveloped waterfront lots designated by the city as parkland in 1995.

Some of the lots were snapped up and developed before the city had the opportunity to preserve them, resulting in a couple of dozen homes with yards on the water’s edge. There are more homes with oceanfront views in Huguenot and Annadale, and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn.

Considering the distance of the bus routes and few amenities for drivers at this terminal, I felt pity that their only option when nature calls is a porta-potty at this turnaround loop. As it is next to a sewage pumping station, it would be easy to construct a permanent restroom here to serve the drivers and the public.

What are likely the only trolley poles (now carrying electric wires) remaining on Staten Island mark a former trolley turnaround. Staten Island did have a number of trolley lines, but all had shut down by 1933. Here, the Richmond Light and Railroad Company ran a line on Richmond Avenue all the way to Richmond Terrace in Port Richmond that is duplicated by today’s S59 bus, which turns here. This stop also serves several express bus lines to Manhattan.

There is doubt that this was ever a trolley turnaround; see Comments below

Sergey Kadinsky is the author of Hidden Waters of New York City: A History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs (2016, Countryman Press), adjunct history professor at Touro University and the webmaster of Hidden Waters Blog

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Peter January 7, 2023 - 8:44 pm

“As it is next to a sewage pumping station, it would be easy to construct a permanent restroom here to serve the drivers and the public.”


Robert Lund January 9, 2023 - 11:52 pm

Both here and on Kevin’s Richmond Avenue post this bus turnaround is described as an old streetcar turnaround. But according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_streetcar_lines_in_Staten_Island the Richmond Ave streetcar terminated up at Bulls Head. Richmond Ave wasn’t fully connected to Hylan when there were trolleys. And this 1924 overhead view of Richmond Ave and Hylan shows no sign of tracks or a turnaround. http://maps.nyc.gov/doitt/nycitymap/?z=10&p=941614,134089&c=GIS1924

Kevin Walsh January 9, 2023 - 11:56 pm

What would the trolley poles be doing there?

Edward January 10, 2023 - 12:29 am

The NYPL digital collection has a Staten Island trolley map which bears out Robert’s post, with no trolley service on Richmond Ave south of Bulls Head. As far as I know, trolley service never reached this far south on Richmond Ave or Hylan Blvd as it was extremely rural at that time. The turnaround is not seen in a 1951 aerial map of that location either. I suspect the poles were moved to this location from somewhere else on the island when the bus turnaround was created, likely sometime in the 1960s as bus service was increasing after the VZ Bridge opened. Knowing SI, the poles probably sat on some corner for 30 years before the city tore them up and reused them.


Peter January 10, 2023 - 12:52 pm

Also, if this were the original arrangement of the poles the wires would have crossed the turnaround loop rather than run along along it. Not much use to the trolley cars.

Ken January 15, 2023 - 9:14 am

It was probably a cost saving measure by the NYCTA to use excess streetcar posts for outdoor lighting on their properties around town (bus depots, parking areas). I’d guess they were inherited from the City B of T mass abandonment/bustitution of the streetcar lines in Brooklyn and Queens from 1945-53. Compared to wooden or aluminum lighting standards, they’re ultra-study.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.