Everyone knows that Staten Island is the richest and least populated borough, but few know the more bizarre and disturbing facts associated with the city’s greenest borough. That ends here. Here are the six best-kept secrets of Staten Island:
1. Why Staten Island isn’t part of New Jersey.
Legend has it that when the British took control of New Amsterdam in 1664, the Duke of York commanded that the Hudson river would form the border between New York and New Jersey. The “but” here is that the Duke also stated that any island that could be circumnavigated in under 24 hours would belong to New York. Christopher Billopp, a British naval captain, in what I imagine was the original NYC “Challenge accepted” managed to do it in 23. This IS a legend though, and can’t be confirmed, still, it’s a nice story.
2. Why Staten Island is called “Staten Island”.
No, it’s not named after a person, rather a governing body. When Dutch settlers purchased Staten Island from the Munsee tribe (in 1630) they named it after the highest governing body in the Netherlands, the Staten-Generaal.
3. Staten Island wanted to leave New York City.
Staten Island actually voted to secede from New York city in 1993. If it were the age of soundbites we live in now they would have probably called it “Statxit.” Thanks to the Mayor of the time, Rudy Giuliani, it never happened, but the “Forgotten Borough” as it was known, was almost not a borough of NYC at all.
4. The Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) map of Westeros is based on Staten Island.
George R.R. Martin grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey. Back in 2013, in an interview with Conan O’Brien, he said that when he was young he’d look out at the island and wondered:
“…what exotic mysteries and wonders lurked on Staten Island“
When he eventually started writing his epic he used Staten Island’s shape as inspiration for Westeros.
5. Staten Island once held the record for the world’s largest landfill
Before it closed in back in 2001, the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island was once the worlds largest measuring 2,200 acres. The city is still in the process of converting the area into a park but it won’t fully complete until 2036.
6. There’s an abandoned farm colony straight out of a horror movie in the Staten Island Greenbelt.
Covered in vines and graffiti, the ruins of a 19th-century farming colony stand in Staten Island’s greenbelt. Originally a refuge for the poor, living there for free in exchange for labor, the farm was abandoned in the 70s. The site has also been connected with at least two murders, and a serial killer allegedly lived in tunnels underneath the property.
Featured image source [Wikimedia Commons] Our Lady of Carmel Grotto 36 Amity Street, Staten Island