Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Belair Road - Hidden Jewel in the Crown

Some might argue that Belair Road is really part of Shore Acres. Feh. For me, Shore Acres only includes that area between Bay Street and the water. I place this little traveled street squarely in the neighborhood of Rosebank.

Winter - looking southward from in front of 37 Belair Road - 1934

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25 Belair Road - 1934

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While the decorative supports for the porch roof have been lost a zoom in on it will show the beautiful scrollwork eaves have survived.

18 Belair Road - 1934

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Today the hedges have been allowed to grow over the columns standing astride the entrance walk and the tree in the front yard towers high above the roof of this quaint Mediterranean style house.

59 Belair Road - 1934

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Oddly unpainted but largely intact - sorry about the telephone pole

I'm finding I'm having a much tougher time creating posts about Rosebank that I thought I would. Most of my work is predicated on what I can find digging through NYPL's digital collection. While I'm finding numerous good shots of Rosebank's beautiful and often stately homes, I'm finding few images of the neighborhood's commercial structures.

Oh, there are a few specific shots, but most are like the stores I put up that were essentially background images on Rosebank's Tangled Backstreets. So far I'm having little luck with pictures showing Bay Street in its past glory which seems odd. I mean we're talking about a stretch of major road from Vanderbilt Avenue to at least Hylan Boulevard and I'm getting next to nothing. So there's a bunch of work I need to do and it means getting up off my rump and going to the St. George Library. Oh, well.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NY Daily News - Stapleton Article

Yesterday, the NY Daily News ran a nice article highlighting the best of Stapleton's beautiful homes. There were good pictures and information on Harrison Street and St. Paul's Avenue (the usual suspects). I can't find the link for it so if you want to see it you need to find your old copy.

There was also a mention of the city backed disaster about to start at the Homeport . Of all the things I dislike about the Napoleon of City Hall, regarding Staten Island, it's his killing of the movie studio planned for the Homeport that angers me the most. It was frowned on by the Giuliani people in EDC but it was the present mayor that murdered it for good.

Let's see, we have an already operating business that will employ people at high salaries who'll spend money in the area. But wait, it'll compete with studios in other boroughs. And the local developers want to get their hands on the land. What to do?

Instead we'll build an pointless mixed-use complex. When they can't fill or finish apartments or storefronts in St. George and Tompkinsville (where people really might want to live) do they really think this will succeed? That it will become a destination shopping district? It leaves me all very annoyed.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Rosebank's Tangled Backstreets

Reynolds Street, 1934 - looking east from Bell Street to St. Mary's Avenue

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To the southeast of the intersection of Tompkins Avenus and Hylan Boulevard is a near maze of narrow streets and old houses. It's a physically fascinating remnant of the sorts of old working class neighborhoods that have been vanishing since at least before I was born. Witness the disappearing bungalows of Midland Beach or the neighborhoods that once existed where the Stapleton or West Brighton Projects are today.

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White Plains Avenue from Bell Street, 1934

I first encountered this little section during a low speed chase between friends back in the mid-eighties. The car I was in quickly became lost but the Rosebank's labyrinth remains etched in my mind to this day.

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Pigeon Coops at the Northeast corner of Oak and Bell Streets, 1934

One of the things you find doing this is that once there were stores sprinkled throughout residential areas away from the more developed commercial areas. I can't tell what the store in the below picture's right is but the one on the left's awning appears to read "Italian Deli"

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Till next time, same Rosebank Time, same Rosebank Channel

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rosebank - A Place I Don't Know

When I was young, every Thursday night, my grandfather would take my mom and my aunt grocery shopping at the A&P in Rosebank. It was one of the biggest supermarkets on the North Shore at the time and my grandfather knew people working in the butcher shop. And that was about the extent of my interaction with the neighborhood.

The only other thing I knew was that it was Italian, and pre-bridge non-Brooklyn Italian at that. Giuseppe Garibaldi had lived there in 1850-1851 and his house was preserved as a museum.

Rosebank had a bad reputation as being a very insular and somewhat racist neighborhood. In 1988 a young black man named Derek A. Tyrus was hit and killed by a car while being chased by a gang of white guys. But that's 23 years ago.

It wasn't until I went to work for the Police Athletic League in 1995 and started driving all over the Island that I started becoming familiar with Rosebank. When I went to work for City Hall in the late 90's I really got to discover the neighborhood in greater detail and it's an easy place to love. There are quiet, tree lined streets, odd, little twisting back streets and large, commercial strips. Many beautiful older homes survive and their are three churches, elevated train tracks and old factory complexes, all side by side.

Today it's a much more integrated place. There has been a lot of commercial development along Bay Street and many of the beautiful older homes on Rosebank's sidestreets have been demolished and filled with the usual array of Staten Island attached nightmares.

So, here goes. In an effort to learn a little more about the place myself and for your edification I'm dedicating the next series of posts to Rosebank