Tuesday, July 15, 2014

P.S. 17 Hamilton Park - Burned and Gone

PS 17, a fairly standard looking school once stood on the heights overlooking York and Jersey Streets. The bit of woods visible in the right of the picture, behind the school, represent the edge of The Cedars, businessman Shipley Jones' estate.

The school burned down in 1977 and Parks began the process of acquiring the land from the Board of Education in order to build what's now called Skyline Park. It's a great place and every time our nephews visit we try to get there at least once.

1874 Map - a school existed on the site but it's footprint differs from the photo/post card, implying it was a different, older facility.

1917 Map - That's the building in the pictures. The entrance faced Fairview Avenue (now Harvard). I wish there was a photo from a further away location so there'd be a sense of how the school sat on the land.

The streets today - Here's a shot up the little piece of Arnold off York. The school was on the rise to the right.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bay Street - Looking west toward Hylan Boulevard

To look at the buildings on Bay Street in the past and then today, it's as if they've melted. The intricate details that were just bits and pieces of the original construction but gave the buildings character have been stuccoed or covered with sidings. Attractive canvas awnings have given way to vinyl or plastic ones. I appreciate these are old buildings that need alterations if they're to survive as actual working buildings but it's a little sad.

But then, hey, it's why when a building gets landmarked it can bankrupt the owner. Too keep a building even looking like it used to, forget about using "period" repair items, tends to drive out owners without lots of extra cash on hand. Too many folks don't really care much about what happens to the owners of such properties, just that their perfectly imagined bits of history are preserved in amber.

Here's a great little detail for the transportationally minded: horse, cars, and trolleys, all living together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Richmond Terrace and Heberton Avenue - March, 1927

One of the things I can never quite wrap my head around as I do my excavation of the history of Staten Island's North Shore is the amount of destruction that's taken place over the years. Now, I that word as a negative term, simply a descriptive one. Whole blocks of buildings have come and gone over the past centuries. Some commercial buildings have been demolished and replaced with apartments. Others have been torn down and the lots remain vacant decades later.

It's a little discombobulating to realize streets I have grown up on and lived on for nearly fifty years were drastically different once. Nothing in a city stays the same for long. Populations change and grow. Technologies advance and require different infrastructures. I used to get upset about the physical changes on the Island, but now I've come to understand they've always happened and will continue to forever.

So...Richmond Terrace and Heberton Avenue, 1927. First, looking toward (Port) Richmond Avenue. The changes here are the most extreme. I'm not sure any of the buildings in the old photo are still standing. Nothing of the buildings on the right (the waterside) remains at all.

Richmond Terrace and Heberton Avenue - looking west

The next picture is the same intersection (natch), facing toward Jewett Avenue. Here, the changes are as severe and you can even spot some of the same buildings today as in the 1927 shot.  The building that housed the Willy's-Knight Overland dealership on the right is still there being used for an auto repair shop. Several other buildings on both sides of the Terrace can be seen as well.

Richmond Terrace and Heberton Avenue - looking east

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Moving Right Along - Van Duzer Trolley Tracks Again

Looking north on Van Duzer Street from corner of Beach Street - 1926 vs. today

The building on the right side was still standing when I was a kid. On the Beach Street side (unseen) was a dry cleaners and a pet store. We'd always stop and look in the window on the way up from shopping in Stapleton.

northeast corner of Van Duzer and Beach Streets 1926 vs. today 
Roulston's was a Brooklyn based grocery store chain that collapsed when the owner died.

looking north along Van Duzer from the corner of Prospect Street
1923 vs. today
That large building on the right is indeed the long gone German Club (along with the Germans of Staten Island). I was told that the large hall was where the giant painting of Christ's ascension behind the altar at Trinity Lutheran was prepared there as it was the only available place big enough at the time.

Close up detail and 1917 map.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Midland Railroad Company Trolley Tracks - Van Duzer Street - part 1

I haven't posted much on this site over the past few years because it's become hard to find the sorts of things that interest me. I've used up most of the decent pictures on the NYPL site pertaining to the North Shore, and I'm too lazy busy to spend time going through the microfiche at the St. George Library of the WPA pictures.

That said, I've become invigorated lately to try and do more (thanks, Mr. Cancemi!). I don't want this site and it's attendant facebook group to die, so I was hit by a strong urge to do some research today.

I've discovered that entering a street name into the NYC Archives can lead to some exciting things. Today, I uncovered a huge cache of pictures showing the track of the Midland Railroad Company's Midland Beach Line along Van Duzer Street. They're from between 1921 and 1925 and show some remarkable stuff.

I'm going to put up the first batch today and the rest over the next few weeks. Zoomed in, there's some incredible detail and I want highlight that. I think one of them shows the German Club that I've read about but never actually seen before. Another has the original Staten Island Academy/Elk's Club. This is some great stuff.

Looking at Water Street from the foot of Wright Street

In the 1926 photo on the left you can see the bulk of the original PS 14 rising up above the library. It's interesting how much remains. In the contemporary picture you can't seen the abomination wrought on the Stapleton Library. Forget the hideous glass extension. The beautiful columned entrance with its heavy wooden door has been closed off. The disregard for the original structure is astonishing.

Looking up Wright Street 1. 1926   r. 2014

This is one of my favorite discoveries today. I had no idea what Wright Street looked like whatsoever. Even when I was a kid none of these buildings in the foreground existed. The left corner was occupied by an ugly box of a building that upstairs housed, first, the Golden Cue pool hall, and second, Wright Toy & Hobby. Later Ross Cosmetics used the space.

Van Duzer Street 
looking north from the top of Wright Street. l. 1926 r. 2014

The mansion on the left and many of the storefronts on the right still exist nearly unchanged. I wish the block didn't look quite as shabby as it does, but it's still one of my favorite. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the trolley tracks visible in the roadbed in each of the old timey photos. 

So that's part one. The next posts will take us north along Van Duzer with stops at most of the cross streets along the way. I hope you enjoy the trip.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Daniel Low Terrace Beauties

I've seen this post card for years now but I never took the ten minutes or so to figure out exactly where these two house were. I just did and happily learned they're still there and in pretty good shape. 

The house on the left appears to have been very well preserved and kept looking very close to how it appeared when it was first built.

The house on the right, while still very nice, has been changed a lot. The central tower has been chopped down and the front exterior staircase removed. The two porches have been enclosed and covered with inappropriate looking tile roofing. It's also been covered with terrible mark of modernity, siding. 

On the other hand, the simple wooden fence in the postcard has been replaced with a very attractive stone wall. So it's got that going for it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Snug Harbor Randall Memorial Church

   Many readers of this site (or group) know that Snug Harbor used to have a beautiful church standing next to the theater: the Randall Memorial Church. As the number of sailors resident declined the church fell into disuse. Unused, it also fell into disrepair. According to Wikipedia, after a plan to turn it into a community center fell through, in 1952, the building was torn down. Today, it's the crappy parking lot next to the theater.

interior images showing the apse and altar

the church was located in the bottom left of the lower picture, around where the cars are parked.

One of the things I only really thought about a few years ago was that I never really understood what Snug Harbor is supposed to look like. The location of the trees were deliberately planned and not just scattered around randomly. All the forested section along Henderson Avenue?  All just new growth following the end of farming at the Harbor.