Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Five - north side of Richmond Terrace btw York Avenue and Jersey Street

The destruction carried out in the name of urban renewal in order to build the Richmond Terrace housing projects was significant. As you saw last time, not only was a long stretch of Jersey Street and some of the streets between Jersey and Westervelt cleared, but a two blocks of Richmond Terrace's north side were demolished as well.

The Star Theater was a place my grandmother would go regularly in order to get  a free piece of dishware. It was a thing theaters did back then to draw customers in.

If you can't make out the word on the marquee, have no fear, I was able to figure out what movies were playing. The top billed is The Light That Failed, an adaptation of a Kipling novel and starring Ronald Colman. Below it is Kid Nightingale, a musical boxing movie starring John Payne and Jane Wyman. The last picture listed is The Man Who Wouldn't Talk, a mystery starring Lloyd Nolan. The first two were released in late 1939 and the last in January, 1940.

I found an article from the July 30, 1926 Ocean Grove Times listing Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Semons of West New Brighton arriving in Ocean Grove.

In case you can't make it out, the building house a United Cigar store. Apparently, at one time, it was the largest cigar store chain in the country, with 3,000 stores before the Depression.

"Eat Home Cooking" proclaims the lunch room's sign. I'm going to make a guess that the owner's name was Antone Pappas.

The Liberty Grill, a name that came up in the comments on the Facebook posting of one of the Jersey Street Projects Project articles. They had wines, liquor, and beer.

A shack, probably part of the Gypsum Plant.

I was pointed to some interesting reading from the Staten Island Advance from 1959. Borough President Maniscalco discusses the demolition of the above buildings for the extension of the Richmond Terrace Promenade and its widening. It was supposed to have been the same length as the portion east of Westervelt and have a "central mall separating the traffic lanes." Whelp, like with so many projects on Staten Island it never really worked out the way its proponents claimed. That stretch of the Terrace in front of the Jersey Street Projects remains a bottle-neck almost 60 years later.

 Sixty years later and this is what Staten Island has to show for urban renewal.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Four - north side of Richmond Terrace btw Westervelt and Jersey Street

   I don't do a lot of these post. I should - I've got loads of pictures copied and saved - but I don't. The primary reason is laziness. There, I've admitted it. It's true, I'm a lazy, lazy man. In my defense, however, putting these posts together is time consuming and tedious. The 18 old pictures below are composed of 69 separate images that I had to put together like puzzles. I love getting these posts together and I love the feedback they get and conversations they start, but man, it's annoying. That said, here you go, one of the most interesting streetside recreations to date: the waterside of Richmond Terrace opposite the Jersey Street Projects, between Westervelt and Jersey. Enjoy!

These particular buildings appear to have come down in 1959 or thereabouts, specifically to help widen the Terrace and extend the Promenade down to the foot of Westervelt. Considering it's an overgrown mess today, was an overgrown mess when I was a kid forty-five years ago, and was probably an overgrown mess within months of demolition, I think it's clear the City did its usual bang-up job of urban renewal.

I look at these buildings and I imagine the people who owned the businesses - Chen Hing's Hand Laundry, Burns Coal, the Pan-American Bar & Grill - raised families, sent their kids to school, buried their parents, and now all the memories that remain are these old photos and family memories. I know it's not really important, but for some reason, I feel like it is. I know, it's weird, but I can't help it. I feel driven to recreate these lost street vistas of places that were demolished half a decade or more before I was born.

NOTE: I think it's safe to assume Chen Hing was Chinese. From things I've red and seen, I know there were more Chinese laundries along Jersey Street. Does anyone know anything about the history of Chinese living on Staten Island before the sixties?

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Three - east side, running north from the corner of Cleveland Street

Sorry I've taken so long to get another post up. So here's a quick glimpse of the east side of Jersey Street starting at the corner of Cleveland Street and running north.

 The corner of Cleveland and Jersey Streets. With a name like White Eagle, I'd guess it was a Polish bar. To the left is a building I don't have a better picture of. It reappears in the next shot, but on the right.

   The same corner today.

 A house. One of the interesting things about Jersey Street is the large number of individual houses right in the middle of largely commercial blocks. That's not the case in Stapleton and West New Brighton.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Two - west side between Crescent and Carlyle

I've held off on the Jersey Street Project for so long (a year and a half), because, compared to Stapleton and West New Brighton, it's huge and unwieldy. It covers way more ground, making it more like Port Richmond than the other areas I've covered. So, without more jib jab, here's another round. Sadly, it's not connected directly to the last batch  - cause I still need to get more photos.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Jersey Street: Part One Northwest side between Richmond Terrace and Pauw Street

When I was a kid, Jersey Street had a reputation as a dangerous place. Much of that was overblown and attributable to racism. It wasn't the safest place on the Island, though. Once it had been a heavily trafficked commercial and residential strip, but my childhood, the projects and changing demographics had dimmed Jersey Street considerably.

Once upon a time it was a street lined by shops with apartments over head and even a synagogue. Just off it were detached houses and a church. By the early eighties, a large stretch of the old buildings were demolished and replaced with attached townhouses. Today, Jersey Street is a little better than it was in the eighties and recently a few new businesses have opened. No matter what happens, Jersey Street will never be the mighty commercial strip it once was. As usual, the removal of mixed-use building and their replacement with purely residential housing projects utterly changed the fundamentals of the area. A ton more people were packed into the area, but a great number of stores were eliminated, limiting the choices residents would have.