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CELEBRATE THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY AND DISCOVER ITS NAMESAKE BOROUGH
– Take the World Famous Ferry to Staten Island and Explore Many Cultural Treasures, Parks and Gardens –
Today marks the 100th anniversary of ferry service between lower Manhattan and Staten Island. A popular visitor attraction, the Staten Island Ferry serves more than 70,000 passengers a day and offers breathtaking views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. There’s more to explore in this unique borough including a New York Yankees minor league team, Chinese garden, Tibetan Museum and colonial village restoration.
A series of exhibits and events will commemorate the ferry centennial starting today the kick-off of Ferry Fest 100 (718-440-5833, www.ferryfest.com ), a week-long celebration of the past, present and future of the Staten Island-Manhattan connection. Special Ferry Fest galleries at the terminals in both Staten Island and Manhattan will be unveiled today featuring an exhibit of art and information about the ferry’s history. Ferry Fest continues on October 27 and 28 with the Ferry Fest Expo, an exhibition of sponsors and community groups offering information and products. The ferryboats and terminals will be jumping October 29 and 30 with live music, comedy, poetry and dance performances throughout the day on Ferry Fest Stages.
The Staten Island Museum of the Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences (718-727-1135, www.statenislandmuseum.com , 75 Stuyvesant Pl. at Wall St.) unveils a new permanent exhibit on October 27 in salute to the ferry centennial. The exhibit, Staten Island Ferry: The First 100 Years of Municipal Service, will feature a wealth of photographs, art works, ship models and artifacts from past ferries. This museum is conveniently located just two blocks west of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
“New Yorkers and visitors alike should celebrate the Staten Island Ferry centennial by taking a free ferry ride and enjoying the day in Staten Island,” said Cristyne L. Nicholas, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “This borough has many treasures to explore including world-class cultural sites and beautiful parks and gardens.”
“More than a million tourists ride the Staten Island Ferry each year because it’s the best bargain in town. However, relatively few tourists come off the Ferry to visit Staten Island,” said Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro. “I am working with NYC & Company to encourage tourists to discover Staten Island’s 9,872 acres of parks and more than two dozen cultural and recreational attractions that make our Borough one of the best-kept secrets among tourist destinations in New York City.”
Celebrate the centennial with a ride on the world-famous ferry and spend the day exploring the hidden treasures of this borough. One of the island’s true gems is the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (1000 Richmond Ave., 718-448-2500, www.snugharbor.org ), which has one of the finest collections of Greek Revival buildings in the country, is in the middle of an 83-acre National Historic Landmark district. Once a refuge for retired merchant seamen, Snug Harbor is now home to art galleries, performance spaces, and museums set amongst natural wetlands, woods, and botanical gardens. Included in the complex are: the Noble Maritime Collection, a museum focusing on the history of Snug Harbor and Staten Island maritime artist John A. Noble; the Staten Island Botanical Garden (718-273-8200, www.sibg.org ), with numerous formal gardens including the internationally renowned Chinese Scholars Garden and the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, modeled after the one in children's classic book; and the Staten Island Children's Museum (718-273-2060), with interactive hands on fun for the whole family.
Every Saturday in October visitors can catch a free shuttle from the Staten Island Ferry terminal to Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The shuttle van will run every half hour, coinciding with ferry schedules, from 12pm until 5:30pm with return trips starting at 3pm.
Another top Staten Island attraction is Historic Richmond Town (441 Clarke Ave., 718-351-1611, www.historicrichmondtown.org ), New York City’s own Colonial Williamsburg. This 25-acre historic restoration includes a museum, homes, a general store, and America's oldest elementary school. Activities at Historic Richmond Town include traditional dinners, where guests observe the preparation of their meal over open fires, and the annual Richmond County Fair.
Escape from the bustle of the city to Staten Island’s green spaces. In the 2,800 acres known as the Greenbelt (718-667-2165, www.sigreenbelt.org ), you can enjoy golf, archery, baseball, hiking, and bird watching. There’s an enchanting carousel with 51 hand-carved animals and 40 hand-painted murals depicting Staten Island landmarks. The Greenbelt has recently opened a new nature center, which will be the hub for recreational activities and educational programs.
Gateway National Recreation Area (www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm ), part of the National Park Service, covers 26,000 acres in three NYC boroughs (and New Jersey). Activities here include swimming, sailing, surfing, fishing, soccer, football, baseball, tennis, cricket, bird watching, camping, and cycling. Great Kills Park & Beach (Hylan Blvd., 718-987-6790) has a beautiful swimming beach, nature trails, fishing, and a marina. Miller Field (718-351-6970), once an active airfield in the early days of aviation, is now a park that includes two post-World War I military aircraft hangers, 64 acres of athletic fields, picnic areas, a community garden, and a white oak forest. Fort Wadsworth (718-354-4500), one of the oldest military installations in the United States, was a linchpin to the defense of New York Harbor for nearly two centuries.
Keep your eyes peeled for the eponymous bird at Blue Heron Park (48 Poillon Ave., 718-390-8000), which has a new visitor center, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve (83 Nielsen Ave., 718-967-1976) has a mix of swamps, bogs, ponds, sand barrens, mature woodlands, and spring-fed streams.
Fascinated by reptiles? The Staten Island Zoo (614 Broadway, 718-442-3100, www.statenislandzoo.org ) has a celebrated collection, as well as an aquarium, a tropical forest, an African Savannah, and popular children's farmyard. Special programs include Breakfast with the Beasts in which visitors can make food for the animals, enjoy a wildlife art exhibition, and learn about the different kinds of armor that animals have.
The Alice Austen House Museum (2 Hylan Blvd., 718-856-4106, www.aliceausten.org ) celebrates the life of native Staten Island photographer Alice Austen. The museum, in what used to be her Victorian cottage, is filled with examples of Austen’s superb work documenting life on the island at the turn of the 20th century. On July 17, come for Family Fun Nautical Day, a day filled with fun activities that capitalize on the cottage’s proximity to the harbor. The sweeping harbor views have long been a magnet for photographers looking to follow in Austen’s footsteps.
Sandy Ground Historical Society (1538 Woodrow Rd., 718-317-5796) was the first community established by freed slaves in North America. The museum and library examine the life and history of the people who settled here before the Civil War. Staten Island has the biggest collection of Tibetan art outside Tibet at the cliff-hanging Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (338 Lighthouse Ave., 718-987-3500, www.tibetanmuseum.com ), housed in two Himalayan-style monastery buildings.
While the New York Yankees may be in the Bronx, Staten Island has its own Yankees baseball team, the Staten Island Yankees (75 Richmond Terr., 718/-20-9265, www.siyanks.com ). This Single-A Minor League affiliate of the New York Yankees play at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George from June through September.
Staten Island feels more suburban than the other boroughs and it’s been featured in movies including Working Girl and The Godfather. Among the hilly streets of the Hamilton Park neighborhood, with its rows of gingerbread-trimmed Victorian mansions and shingle-style homes erected during the Civil War era, are two huge Tudor-esque homes that appeared as Casa Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's 1971 classic, The Godfather (look for Longfellow St.).
Lodging options in Staten Island include the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island (1100 South Ave., 718-477-2400, www.hiltongardeninn.com ), which has 148 rooms, indoor pool, and complimentary parking; the Staten Island Hotel (1415 Richmond Ave., 718-698-5000, www.statenislandhotel.com ), with close to 200 rooms and suites; and the Harbor House Bed & Breakfast (1 Hylan Blvd., 718-876-0056, www.nyharborhouse.com ), which has panoramic city and harbor views.
Dining choices include the romantic Angelina’s Ristorante (26 Jefferson Blvd., 718-227-7100, www.angelinasristorante.com ) for southern Italian cuisine and live nightly entertainment.
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