Staten Island

Staten Island Ferry with Staten Island in the background

Staten Island is New York City's "Forgotten Borough". Situated across New York Harbor from Manhattan, Staten Island may seem like it's in an entirely different world than the hustle and bustle one expects in New York City. However, it still has some of the features you've come to expect from the city. This combination of city influences and its rural origins have created a unique borough that is a great place to visit.

Districts

The locations of Staten Island's three main regions, within New York City.

Staten Island has numerous neighborhoods, each with a distinct feel and different attractions.

These neighborhoods can be grouped into three regions: North Shore, Mid-Island, and South Shore. The North Shore includes the area north of the Staten Island Expressway. The South Shore generally includes the area south of the Fresh Kills. The Mid-Island takes up the area in-between.

North Shore

The North Shore is full of older neighborhoods, which were fully developed long before the rest of Staten Island. Thanks to this, many examples of old architecture can be found here. Its neighborhoods include:

Mid-Island

The Mid-Island section was largely undeveloped until 1964, the opening of the Verrazano Bridge. The resulting economic boom means that most of the Mid-Island's architecture is from the late 1960s and 1970s. Some of its main neighborhoods are:

Welcome to Old Town!
New Dorp on the Staten Island Railway.

South Shore

The South Shore experienced a similar economic boom to the Mid-Island when the Verrazano Bridge opened. However, there are still many parts of the South Shore that are undeveloped, at least compared to the rest of the borough. Some of its neighborhoods are:

Understand

Staten Island is a borough of about 500,000 people. While that's not even half of the population of any of the other boroughs, it's still respectable for a U.S. city. Staten Island is located in New York Harbor, and is the southernmost point in New York State. It's practically in New Jersey!

Orientation

Staten Island is New York City's only borough that lacks a predominant numbered street grid. It is important to remember that you can not depend on the numbers of the streets to tell you where you are.

Staten Island has four main highways: the Staten Island Expressway (I-278), the West Shore Expressway (NY-440), the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway (also NY-440), and the Korean War Veterans Parkway (unofficially known as the Richmond Parkway). The Staten Island Expressway runs east-west, from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the Goethals Bridge. The West Shore expressway runs south from the Staten Island Expressway in the northwest portion of the island to the Outerbridge Crossing in Tottenville. The Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway runs north from just east of the SIE's junction with the West Shore to the Bayonne Bridge. The Korean War Veterans Expressway branches off from the West Shore Expressway just north of the Outerbridge and runs northeast all the way to Eltingville.

Compared to the neatly-organized grid of Manhattan, the layout of Staten Island's streets may seem like a child's drawings. On the contrary, most streets run in a simple pattern. The biggest streets run east-west (parallel to the northern shore), north-south (parallel to the western shore), and northeast-southwest (parallel to the eastern and southern shores). This creates the effect of a triangle. If you know the main roads that form each side of the triangle, you won't get lost.

Get in

By ferry

Staten Island can be reached by passenger ferry from Manhattan. The ferry is the most visually pleasing option for arriving on the island, as it passes by Liberty Island and offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and New York Harbor. The ferry is free and operates 24 hours a day out of Battery Park in Manhattan and St. George Terminal in Staten Island; even during the early morning hours, it never runs less than once every half hour at the half hour. You can see a current schedule on this page. The 25-hour ferry ride is also sometimes a faster trip from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island than a corresponding trip by car or bus. The ferry allows bicycles on the lower decks, where there are usually bike racks.

The St. George Ferry Terminal is also a terminal for the Staten Island Railway and many of Staten Island's local buses.

By car

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at night with Staten Island in the background

Staten Island can be reached by bridge from Brooklyn and New Jersey.

These last 3 bridges have a $12.00 toll payable only when entering Staten Island, not leaving it. The carpool toll is $2.00 with 3 or more people in a car, payable only with E-Z Pass.

By bus

Express bus

A moderately priced option is to take an express bus from Manhattan to Staten Island. The express buses are especially handy when you are traveling to places on the South Shore, which is the furthest section of Staten Island from the ferry, and has fewer local routes running than the more densely populated North Shore. The $6.50 fare is payable with MetroCard (pay-per-ride only), Express Bus Plus MetroCards or coin change. Dollar bills are not accepted.

Most express buses run solely on weekdays. The X1, X10, and X17 run 7 days a week X17. The X1 runs 24/7.

The wait times for an express bus are about 4–10 minutes during rush hours, 15–30 minutes other times. The Staten Island bus map (service descriptions) covers the routes on the island.

Local bus

  • The S53 serves the North Shore and goes through Port Richmond and West New Brighton
  • The S79 serves the Mid-Island region and the South Shore. It goes along Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue to get to the Staten Island Mall.
  • The S93 runs rush hours only and goes to the College of Staten Island, serving the neighborhoods near the Staten Island Expressway and Victory Boulevard.

Get around

By rail

A Staten Island Railway train.

The Staten Island Railway is a hybrid of a railroad and a subway line. Fares are the same as a subway ride (US$2.75), and it runs 24 hours, at intervals from 15 minutes during weekdays to hourly overnight, synchronized to the ferry schedule. Fares are collected only at St. George Ferry Terminal and Tompkinsville, and include a free transfer to or from the buses or subway in Manhattan. During rush hours, express service is provided and the locals terminate at Great Kills.

By bus

A S76 bus stopped on New Dorp Lane in New Dorp

Bus routes cover the island pretty thoroughly. There are two types of buses:

Many local buses terminate at the St. George Ferry Terminal. These can be grouped according to their service area:
  • North Shore: S40 series (S40, S42, S44, S46, S48)
  • East Shore: S50s series (S51, S52)
  • Victory Boulevard: S60s series (S61, S62, S66)
  • South Shore: S70s series (S74, S76, S78)
  • Limited routes: S80s and S90s series (S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96, S98)
However, other routes on Staten Island that do not depart from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal do not necessarily follow the same rule. These are the S53, S54, S55, S56, S57, S59, S79, S89, and S93.

Most bus routes on the island meet up at the St. George Ferry Terminal. Other major transfer points include Port Richmond, with some buses terminating at Richmond Terrace at Port Richmond Avenue; the Staten Island Mall; and the Eltingville Transit Center on the South Shore.

Fares can be paid in quarters or dollar coins (if you can find them). You can also use a MetroCard (good for all public transportation in NYC), purchasable at some delis or at the machines located at the ferry terminal. Buses run close to schedule, but service on Staten Island is sparse outside of rush hours, and even during peak hours, the most frequent headway is 10 minutes. Because of this, it helps to be prepared: either pick up a schedule for routes that you'll plan to take, check the Guide-A-Ride boxes at bus stops for exact times or use the MTA's BusTime system to track buses. Although BusTime only works on routes dispatched from Staten Island at the moment, you can track express bus service in Manhattan.

A Staten Island bus map is available on this page.

See

Parks

As the official "Borough of Parks", Staten Island has a large collection of parks. They range from modest playgrounds to immense expanses of raw nature.

All parks operated by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation are open 6AM–1AM (Note that The Greenbelt is operated by the Greenbelt Conservancy and Gateway is operated by the National Park Service). Parks affiliated with schools are the only exception. These are open from dawn to dusk, and it is generally considered good etiquette to stay out of the park if schoolchildren are playing in it.

Some parks in Staten Island are:

Lemon Creek Park
A view of South Beach, with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background.

Museums

The Conference House at 298 Satterlee St., near the southern tip of Staten Island.

Other

Do

Richmond County Bank Ballpark and a view of Upper New York Bay

Buy

The shopping in Staten Island is weirdly unique, combining aspects of suburban shopping with things only found in New York City. A number of shopping malls are on Staten Island, including:

A shopping area clearly influenced by Staten Island's location in New York City is New Dorp Lane, located in, you guessed it, New Dorp. New Dorp Lane has the feel of a commercial street in Brooklyn or parts of Manhattan; however, it is far less busy than either of the two. You can walk down one of the wide sidewalks and pass a variety of small businesses. The New Dorp Lane commercial district is best experienced by walking, as New Dorp Lane is notorious for frustratingly bad traffic.

A type of business that is becoming increasingly common on Staten Island is the farmers' market. A number of markets can be found on Staten Island, including the following:

Eat

Sailors Snug Harbor

While the vast majority of Staten Island eateries are Italian, there are some gems of ethnic cuisine in the St. George and Tompkinsville neighborhoods. Mostly within a mile of each other on Victory Blvd (and in walking distance from the ferry terminal), the authentic and inexpensive restaurants serve up flavorful South Asian cuisine well worth the trip.

American

Italian

Asian

Mexican

Spanish

Sri Lankan

Drink

Staten Island Borough Hall, in the St. George neighborhood, not far from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal

St. George has a few bars located south of the ferry terminal. Make a left when you leave the boat. Look for live music at the Cargo Cafe or Karl's Klipper, both located on Bay Street with phenomenal views of the Verrazano Bridge.

Sleep

Staten Island is the closest borough to New Jersey's Newark International Airport. This results in lower taxi fares and shorter travel times as opposed to Manhattan (the taxi fare is $45 to any point in Staten Island plus up to $10 in tolls). You may want to consider sleeping in a hotel here for this reason.

Stay safe

When discussing crime in Staten Island, it first must be established that Staten Island is not a crime-ridden mob haven, as it is portrayed in movies and "reality" TV. Staten Island is no more dangerous than any of the other boroughs of New York City. However, it does have some crime.

The northern and southern portions of Staten Island are pretty different in the amount of crime and the type of crime found there.

The North Shore has a somewhat elevated crime rate compared to the rest of the Island. It is home to large low-income housing projects. This attracts a lot of both petty crime and more serious crimes. Be careful when walking alone at night.

Once you get below the Staten Island Expressway, however, the situation changes. The South Shore has a relatively low crime rate. Residents often joke about it, saying that the local burglars are nice enough to wait until you car is unlocked to rob it. In fact, burglars and pickpockets are nothing compared to the South Shore's most notorious villains - trees.

No, the trees will not come alive and attack you like in your favorite sci-fi movie. Nor will they fall on you and crush your bones. The real irritating thing about the trees is Staten Island's No. 1 mood killer, pollen. There are dozens of trees on most South Shore streets (so many you may not believe you're still in New York City). This results in the pollen count being astronomically high on spring days. If you have severe allergies, consider addressing the problem before coming to Staten Island in April or May.

In addition to pollen, trees also bring pesky critters. Please take necessary precautions if you have severe allergies or a strong aversion to any of the following:

Connect

The New York Public Library offers free wi-fi. In addition, it offers many free programs to help people learn English. This makes it the best place to go if you need a refresher or need to contact someone who speaks a language other than English. These are the Staten Island locations:

Port Richmond Branch.
Tottenville Branch.

Go next

Let's be honest: the majority of travellers don't travel great distances to go to Staten Island (good for you if you do, but you're in the minority). While the Island is a hidden gem, many of the main tourist attractions are around it, and you will want to check them out.

The first order of business is to make sure you've gone completely through New York City. Each of the four other boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx) have their own attractions and features you'll want to see.

If you're done in New York, Staten Island is a great launching pad for a trip in New Jersey. Some places to go are:

Routes through Staten Island

Linden Elizabeth  W  E  Brooklyn Queens
Edison Perth Amboy ← becomes  S  N  becomes Bayonne Jersey City


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, February 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.