Stories and links about Staten Island – its unusual histories and uniqueness – plus articles on creative ways to present culture.
Thoreau on Staten Island
In 1843, Ralph Waldo Emerson secured his friend, the 25-year old Henry David Thoreau, a tutoring position for his brother’s children on Staten Island.
“Thoreau was particularly struck by the beauty of the island’s many giant tulip trees, which were not found in New England. He also had the luck to encounter the 17-year locusts, whose appearance and sounds he vividly described in a letter home to his mother.”
He also delights in the surprise vistas, unique to Staten Island still to this day: “When walking in the interior there, in the midst of rural scenery, … I have suddenly, through a gap, a cleft, or a ‘clove road’ as the Dutch settlers called it, caught sight of a ship under full sail, over a field of corn, twenty or thirty miles at sea.”
– Literary Traveler by Patrick Raftery
“A Transcendentalist in New York: Thoreau’s Staten Island Experience”
Using homes as public venues to share culture
Welcome to India’s first Book Village – strawberry farmers open homes for country’s sole village of books.
“Each home is allotted books pertaining to one genre and identified with street signs and wall paintings.”
An interview with Wu-Tang’s RZA
on the Mysterious Land of Shaolin: Staten Island
“One thing about Staten Island that was different from Brooklyn was the ability to walk from one neighborhood to another, to actually have a break from project life. … I saw what we’d consider mansions then, big homes. And I think seeing another side of life, that wasn’t ghetto life — I think there was something healthy about that.”
– Via Lithub
Interview originally appears in Nonstop Metropolis,
by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
Louise Bourgeois & Staten Island
Did you know Louise Bourgeois bought a house on Staten Island?
Originally intended for her son, who never lived there, she treated the house as a sculptural environment and named it “Maison Vide.” It is still owned by her foundation.
A single-edition drypoint sketch she made of her property, titled “Mud Land” c. 1989, is in the collection of MoMA.
This is Staten Island
Staten Island is an urban town that defies the label of suburbia and all that that implies. Neighborhoods resemble small towns but with an abundance of intermixed zoning.
NYC MTA buses stop every few blocks 24-7. There are high walkability scores and a plethora of parks and green spaces.
The borough is roughly 3-times the geographic size of Manhattan and has a population of half a million – larger than many American metro areas.