Staten Island, New York

Living in Staten Island, New York

Iyna Bort Caruso

Greenbelts of forests and meadows. Bluebelts of wetlands and waterways. Welcome to Staten Island, New York City’s least urbanized and least populated borough with fewer than a half-million people.

Staten Island is connected to the mainland by four bridges. Free ferry service whisks commuters to Manhattan’s Financial District in 25 minutes.

It is the city’s greenest borough. More than a third of Staten Island consists of protected parklands, a boon for birdwatchers and hikers. Freshkills Park was once the world’s largest landfill. It’s now being ambitiously re-engineered in phases with the goal of becoming the largest park developed New York in over a century--three times the size of Central Park.

Staten Island has a maritime heritage, the legacy of which can be experienced in several museums and a national lighthouse. A National Historic Landmark called Sailors’ Snug Harbor was the country’s first home for retired merchant seamen when it opened in 1833. It is now a cultural center.

In more recent history, the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, at the time the longest suspension bridge in the world was considered character-changing. Connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn, the span transformed the landscape of many communities from rural enclaves into bedroom communities.

These days, Staten Island has a growing artist colony attracted by affordable rents, one of America’s largest Sri Lankan communities and, arguably, the best pizza in the city.

The architecture of Staten Island features many examples of Greek Revival and Victorian. There’s even a Frank Lloyd Wright house, The Crimson Beech. The residence was the only private Wright designed in New York City. He died just before it was completed in 1959.

The North Shore of Staten Island is the most urban with lovely homes in historic districts. Todt Hill is a quiet, affluent neighborhood of sprawling mansions on one of the highest points on the East Coast. Nearby West Brighton features vintage homes on shady streets and a waterfront area. Property turnover is traditionally low.