Saturday, March 03, 2018

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Seven - west side of Jersey Street between Crescent Avenue and Cleveland Street

This is my favorite stretch of recreated Jersey Street I've done to date. The reason is the looming presence of St. Stanislaus looking down from York Avenue in many of the shots. Today, blocked by the line of trees and brush that fills the lots these buildings once occupied, the church is barely visible from Jersey Street level. Once, though, it was a major element of the local skyline and a reminded of the Church as part of everyday life.


When I first copied and pieced together this shot I wasn't completely sure it was the right one. As you can see, it isn't labeled like the rest. I don't know why, but many of the photos are in a general sort of catch-all file. There's a code on the master list telling which picture is supposed to be which, but still, this didn't look right. I had collected this shot first so I didn't recognize the structure in the upper right corner for what it is, St. Stanislaus.

It seems funny to find detached homes in what seems like such a urban area as Jersey Street, but I think I understand what was going on. I think Jersey Street was originally lined with such buildings on decent-sized lots. As the years went on and the development accelerated, several would be torn down and replaced with the multi-story mixed residential and commercial buildings featured in most of these pictures. This particular house appears on the 1874 map.

1917 street map

         1924 aerial map           present day street map    present day aerial map

Regular readers have read me gripe about what I consider the heartlessness of the city planners who ripped down neighborhoods like this part of New Brighton in order to replace it with overcrowded housing projects in the name of urban renewal. I believe this shot, better than many others I've presented, prove my case. All those buildings above were destroyed sixty years ago and since then all that's there is a garbage-strewned and fenced off lot. It's both ugly and cut off from public access. What was the point of that? I'd be surprised to hear a good one suggested.

Jersey Street - winter 2013

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

West Brighton Projects Project Part 7: southwest corner of Market and Richmond

Quick addition to the ongoing recreation of the neighborhood demolished to clear way for the construction of the West Brighton Houses. I still need to get a few more house pictures to show the rest of the block, but I've got these, so why not just put them up?

Unlike some of the other blocks, this appears to be all residential. It's the usual Staten Island mix of wooden and stucco buildings, some 
single-family, others multi-. I still cannot believe that once upon a time there were urban planners who believed massive towers packed with people and devastated commercial centers was an improvement for the lives of the poor and working class.

1917 Map

1924 Aerial Map

2012 Aerial Map

Thursday, February 15, 2018

West Brighton Projects Project Part 6: West side of Broadway, between West Union and Henderson

I remembered that I hadn't finished recreating the neighborhood wiped out to build the West Brighton Houses. Some of it's because I've had a little trouble pulling all the pictures together. In others, like with today's post, it's because I've forgotten to do it. So, without further ado, Broadway between the no-longer-extant West Union Street and Henderson Avenue.

As usual, I'm somewhat fascinated by the closeness of significant commercial buildings to actual houses. Modern building doesn't seem to do this in any way. I guess the goal of suburban development is to keep the two at more of an arm's length, save for the deli or drycleaner you can walk to. It's also, obviously, a result of carcentric planning. Cars allow you to build the something like the old Penney's Plaza on Forest and Barrett and assume the people from West New Brighton will go there. They don't need a major shopping and dining area outside their door. I'm surprised no one seems to be suggesting this sort of old fashioned building as an antidote to heavy traffic. I would much rather walk to a store than have to take the bus or ride a bike any day of the week. Is this sort of pedestrian friendly development even allowed anymore? Seriously, does anyone know?

1917 Map

NYC 1924 Aerial Map

2012 Google Maps

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Six - east side of Henry Street

Recently, I've become interested in the infamous tenement collapse on New Street in the summer of 1937. This New Street wasn't the one in Port Richmond, instead it was a little dead end street off of Jersey Street roughly where the entrance to 81 Jersey Street is today. It was a horrible disaster, killing 19 people, and I'll write more about it in the future.

Right now, I'm putting together pictures of the buildings that were down in the valley between Jersey Street and Westervelt Avenue. New Street, Henry Street, and James Street, all no longer in existence, were situated below the level of Jersey Street. That was part of the reason the tenement collapsed, their basements having filled up with over ten feet of water during a torrential downpour.

Henry Street ran north from Cleveland Street to James Street, behind 131 and 151 Jersey Street. Between the maps and the photos are 23 years. In that time, several of these buildings were constructed and several more vanished - whether from demolition or fire, I have no way of telling. There's a little more of a ramshackle quality to a few of these buildings than the vanished streets of Stapleton and West New Brighton. As I've written before, I think it's due to the greater age of the neighborhood, but I'm only guessing.

this building is actually 51-61

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.