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Map of Staten Island

Staten Island

Bet you didn't know there's a Colonial Williamsburg-like living history restoration, complete with colonial buildings including a general store and America's oldest elementary school called Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island.
Did You Know?
The 212 mile boardwalk at Staten Island's South Beach is the fourth longest in the world.
Or that NYC has its own South Beach here. Or that Staten Island has the biggest collection of Tibetan art outside Tibet itself at the cliff-hanging Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, which is one of only two Himalayan-style, monastery buildings in the Western world, and the only one in the United States. Or that the Chinese Scholar's Garden at the Staten Island Botanical Garden is the only authentic one of its kind in the country.

Staten Island Ferry The excursion from the tip of Manhattan to the edge of Staten Island cruises through New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Governors Island (sigh-inspiring views, to be sure), and allows an unobstructed view of lower Manhattan. The adventure doesn't cost a thing aboard the free Staten Island Ferry.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center
A short bus ride from the ferry terminal is the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, an 83-acre National Historic District with 28 historic buildings set among gardens and a museum performing arts complex. Once a refuge for retired merchant seaman, Snug Harbor's unique historic buildings are now home to art galleries, performance spaces, and museums amongst natural wetlands, woods, and botanical gardens. Included in the complex are: The Noble Maritime Collection, a museum focusing on the history of Snug Harbor and Staten Island maritime artist John A. Noble; Staten Island Botanical Garden, with numerous formal gardens including the internationally renowned Chinese Scholars Garden and the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, modeled after the children's classic; Staten Island Children's Museum, a museum for young people and school groups with interactive hands on fun for the whole family; Fort Wadsworth, one of the oldest military installations in the United States, now a national park.

Other Great Attractions The Staten Island Zoo has a celebrated collections of reptiles, as well as an aquarium, a tropical forest, an African Savannah and popular children's farmyard. You might not have heard of her until now, but photography buffs will thrill to the sweeping views of the harbor from native S.I. photographer Alice Austen's Victorian cottage (now the Alice Austen House Museum), and remember long after being moved by the displays of her superb work documenting Staten Island life at the turn of the 20th century. Sandy Ground Historical Society was the oldest community established by free slaves in North America. The museum and library examines the life and history of freed Blacks who settled in the area before the Civil War.

Take a Walk
This 13.9-by-7.5 mile island feels more suburban than the other boroughs. Among the hilly streets of the Hamilton Park neighborhood, with its rows of gingerbread-trimmed Victorian mansions and shingle-style homes erected during the Civil War era, are two huge Tudoresque homes that appeared on screen as Casa Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's 1971 classic, The Godfather (look for Longfellow Street). On the other side of the island is Todt Hill, at 409 feet, the highest point along the Atlantic seaboard south of Maine.

South Beach
(718/816-6804), a beach with a beautiful view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, has a 7,500-foot-long boardwalk - the fourth largest in the world - as well as a playground, bocce courts, roller hockey rink, shuffleboard, ballfields, and picnic areas.

Gateway National Recreation Area
, part of the National Park Service, includes several recreation areas. Great Kills Park & Beach (718/980-6130, 718/987-6790) has a beautiful swimming beach, nature trails, fishing, and a marina. Miller Field (718/351-6970), once an active airfield in the early days of aviation, is now a park that includes two post-World War I military aircraft hangers, 64 acres of athletic fields, picnic areas, a community garden, and a white oak forest. Fort Wadsworth (718/354-4500) was a linchpin to the defense of New York Harbor for nearly two centuries. Park Rangers lead walks and tours highlighting both the history and the protected natural plant and animal communities at these sites.

The 147-acre Blue Heron Park (718/390-8000) is home to the blue heron bird, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The 260-plus-acre Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve (718/967-1976) includes hiking paths and horse trails. The Greenbelt (718/667-2165), a 2,800-acres nature preserve, includes High Rock Park and the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge.

More information on Staten Island:

www.statenislandusa.com; Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island: 718/447-3329.

Map David Lindroth Inc., dlindmap@bellatlantic.net.
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