Staten Island Obscura Day

2015-05-14_13-30-03Obscura Day 2015 is almost here, with 160+ curious and awe-inspiring events taking place around the world on Saturday, May 30.

Obscura Day is the real-world manifestation of Atlas Obscura – a day of expeditions, back-room tours, unusual access and discovery in your hometown. More than just cataloging the curious, wondrous and overlooked places of the world, we’d like to encourage you to actually go out and explore them. Special events will be taking place at unusual locations across the globe as we highlight obscure collections, eclectic museums, hidden wonders and curiosities near and afar to show that the same sense of wonder invoked by exotic travels can be found close to home if you know where to look.

Check out just some of the cool sites Staten Island offers:

The New York City Farm Colony – Built in 1898 as a self-preserving housing community for the impoverished or otherwise socially outcast, its beginnings were utopic in essence; 2,000 residents would produce over 3,000 vegetables, more than enough to sustain themselves. Due to the advent of Social Security and drugs like Thorazine in the 1950s, however, the community was stripped of most of its able-bodied workers and essentially became a geriatric center. And so, like many other farm colonies, the colony could no longer sustain itself and was sealed and abandoned in 1975. But this only marked the beginning of a far more sinister period of its existence.

Fort Wadsworth – The first fortification on the site was a small Dutch fort built in 1663. The fort passed into English hands in 1776, when the British took control of New York during the Revolutionary War, then reverted to New York’s control at the war’s end. The city expanded a bit, starting work on three more forts, but none of them were finished by the beginning of the War of 1812, and the new Federal government had to step in and rush the job. Only 15 years later, the government declared the slapdash forts “unfit” and decided to start over, knocking down all four and replacing them with a pair of much larger forts — Fort Richmond, on the beach, and Fort Tompkins, on the hill just above. They completed both structures in 1861, shortly after the onset of the Civil War.

Historic Richmond Town – What do you do when you lose your county seat? Stop Time!

What to do when you lose your county seat? Stop time. At least, that’s how Historic Richmond Town dealt with the end of their hey day as Staten Island’s commercial and civic center. Originally a crossroads settlement, Richmond Town became the center for business and government on Staten Island in the 1700s, bustling with blacksmiths and shoemakers and court sessions. But by the time SI became a part of the five New York City boroughs in 1898, the once happening town found itself in a gradual decline. So they stopped moving forward!

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Learn More About the Underground Railroad in Staten Island

2015-05-20_13-35-03WHEN: Fri, May 22, 7pm – 9pm

WHERE: Unitarian Church of Staten Island, 312 Fillmore Street, Staten Island, NY 10301

The Sandy Ground Historical Society in partnership with theUnitarian Church of Staten Islandwill host a lecture and book signing on May 22nd. Authors Tom Calarco and Don Papson will present from their book, “Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City.”

Underground Railroad activities on Staten Island will be included in the presentation.

Light refreshments will be served. Suggested donation of $10.

RSVP (718) 317-5796 or (917) 992-8652


Don Papson was awarded the 2012 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize in Leadership for co-founding the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association and establishing the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. He lives in Plattsburgh, New York.

Tom Calarco is a professional writer whose antislavery research is widely recognized. He was awarded the 2008 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize for advancing the knowledge and study of the Underground Railroad. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the fourteen years Sydney Howard Gay edited the American Anti-Slavery Society’s National Anti-Slavery Standard in New York City, he worked with some of the most important Underground agents in the eastern United States, including Thomas Garrett, William Still and James Miller McKim. Gay’s closest associate was Louis Napoleon, a free black man who played a major role in the James Kirk and Lemmon cases. For more than two years, Gay kept a record of the fugitives he and Napoleon aided. These never before published records are annotated in this book. Revealing how Gay was drawn into the bitter division between Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, the work exposes the private opinions that divided abolitionists. It describes the network of black and white men and women who were vital links in the extensive Underground Railroad, conclusively confirming a daily reality.

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CBCF’s 8th Annual Golf Classic to Tee Off June 22nd at Mountain Ridge Country Club

2015-05-01_14-35-28The 8th annual Cure Breast Cancer Foundation’s Golf Classic is set to take place on Monday, June 22nd at the Mountain Ridge Country Club, site of the USGA 2012 Men’s Senior Amateur Championship, the 2014 MGA Mid-Amateur Championship and one of Golf Week’s “Top 100 Classic Courses in America.”

The daylong event – which is one of the most successful fundraising efforts sponsored by CBCF throughout the year– will tee off with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. at the West Caldwell golf course.  Registration and breakfast will begin at 10 a.m.  A $1 Million Hole-In-One Shootout and raffle drawing for a 2015 Ford Mustang convertible will also take place.

The festivities will conclude with a dinner reception where Dr. Larry Norton, the Foundation’s Scientific Advisor, will address guests.  CBCF’s fundraising efforts support breast cancer research efforts under the direction of Dr. Norton, who is the Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs and the Medical Director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, at Sloan-Kettering and other national and international research facilities.

“The Golf Classic is our most popular event and has been the centerpiece of our fundraising campaign,” says Andrew Abramson, Treasurer and Co-Founder of CBCF, which is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization.  “Every year the total raised grows and allows us to advance the important work of Dr. Norton and his colleagues.  We are incredibly grateful to all the participants and sponsors who show their support for our efforts during a fun-filled day at one of New Jersey’s premier golf facilities.”

Those interested in participating in the 8th Annual Golf Classic can call (973) 471-CBCF (2223) or email

CBCF has raised in excess of $5 million to assist the dedicated team of physicians and scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and New Jersey and their national and international collaborators.  Fully 100% of the net fundraising proceeds received by the foundation are donated towards research projects coordinated by Dr. Norton who is leading the fight against breast cancer with groundbreaking work and have discovered that cancer cell mobility and the interactions between the cancer cell and its microscopic environment are the key pathways to understanding and eventually eradicating breast cancer.

CBCF hosts a number of fundraising events and informative seminars throughout the New York metropolitan area and is aggressively expanding its outreach throughout the United States and beyond.

For more information on the CBCF and a full schedule of events, please call (973) 471-CBCF (2223) or visit

Cure Breast Cancer Foundation

The Cure Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is a Clifton, N.J. – based not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charity devoted to fund research on the growth and spreading of breast cancer cells, also known as the Self-Seeding Theory, at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan and other national and international cancer research facilities under the direction of Dr. Larry Norton, who serves as the Foundation’s Scientific Advisor.  The founder and president is Carly Abramson.  Her father, Andrew Abramson, is Treasurer.  For more information, call (973) 471-CBCF (2223), e-mail or visit

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Visit the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden This Spring

2015-05-06_12-56-01The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is truly unique attraction that adds new dimension to our understanding of life in ancient China and serves as the perfect setting for a host of multi-cultural events. It features magnificent rockery that resemble mountains that inspired the poetry and paintings of Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist monks and other scholars.

Visitors can explore eight pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a Koi-filled pond, Chinese calligraphy, and a variety of Gongshi scholar’s rocks including a 15-foot formation that towers over the central courtyard.

The Garden is a compilation of different gardens in China. It is based on Ming Dynasty Gardens (1368-1644). The New York Scholar’s garden is the one of two authentic scholar’s gardens in the United States. A team of 40 Chinese artists and craftsmen spent a year in China creating the Garden’s components and another six months in Staten Island as craftsmen-in-residence at Snug Harbor to complete the construction.

Snug Harbor partnered with the City of New York, the Landscape Architecture Company of China, the Metropolitan Chinese American Community and hundreds of volunteers to build the Garden, which opened in 1999.

The Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm


$5 Adults, $4 Seniors/Students and free for kids 12 and under

Support the Chinese Scholar’s Garden

For twelve years, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden has been one of the most popular attractions at Snug Harbor. Tens of thousands of visitors have enjoyed the beauty of the architecture, plantings and ponds. However, climatic conditions andbut budget cuts have made maintenance a challenge. You can help to keep the garden beautiful for future generations by giving to the campaign to support maintenance and restoration of  in the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden.

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St. George Greenmarket Set to Open


St. George’s Greenmarket will be open at St. Mark’s Place and Hyatt St, Staten Island
Open Saturdays, 5/2 – 12/26
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Set on a hill overlooking New York Harbor and the downtown Manhattan skyline, this market draws a dedicated following of neighborhood shoppers who line up each Saturday to get first dibs on the freshest seasonal fruit, produce, cheese, meat, seafood and baked goods. An array of plants, berries picked just as they have ripened, juice pressed from upstate orchard fruit, heirloom tomatoes and much more will entice you to keep checking back in on the market to see what’s new each week, and experience the change of the seasons through the food made available by these regional farmers.

Community activities, cooking demonstrations, and recipes exchanges all add to the diverse nature of this particular market.

A sampling of this year’s farmers:

American Seafood – Wild caught seafood from Suffolk County, NY
Apple State Hill Top Family Farm – Honey from Sullivan County, NY
DiPaola Turkeys –  Turkey from Mercer County, NJ
Francesca’s Bakery –  Breads and baked goods from Middlesex County, NJ
Jersey Farm Produce –  Vegetables, herbs, and small fruit from Hunterdon County, New Jersey, a New Farmer Development Project participant
Mi Ranchito Farm –  Vegetables, Mexican specialty produce, and herbs from Monmouth County, NJ. A New Farmer Development Project participant.
Millport Dairy –  Cheddar cheese, pickles and baked goods from Lancaster County, PA
Rabbit Run Farm –  Certified Organic vegetables, goat cheese and meats from Bucks County, PA
R & G Produce LLC –  Vegetables from Orange County, NY
Staten Island Family Farm –  Vegetables, Mexican specialty produce from Richmond County, NY. A New Farmer Development Project participant.
Stony Mountain Ranch –  Grass-fed Piedmontese beef from Schuylkill County, PA
Troncillito Farm –  Orchard fruit from Ulster County, NY

The manager of the market is Nan Smith.  A native Staten Islander, Nan Smith’s love for the country took her to the Blue Ridge Mts. of Virginia where growing food is a way of life.  Although back in NY for many years, her attention focused on local environmental concerns while working as the office manager for design firms. She shifted interests toward the “environment within” when she graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2011. Now she shops, chops, cooks and blends up nutritious dishes made with local nourishing food and teaches others to do the same.  Passionate about teaching children, their parents and all who want to learn, Nan shows how to support their health by eating real food. As a master composter she maintains a small garden in the back yard. When not playing with food, you find her sewing sock monkeys or knitting plastic yarn and teaching sewing for all ages at the Staten Island MakerSpace.

2015-04-30_13-46-02About GrowNYC

GrowNYC is the sustainability resource for New Yorkers: providing free tools and services anyone can use in order to improve our City and environment.
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Staten Island’s Turning Point?

A view of URL Staten Island, a new residential and retail complex rising in the Stapleton neighborhood, from the Stapleton platform of the Staten Island Railway. URL overlooks Upper New York Bay. Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

A view of URL Staten Island, a new residential and retail complex rising in the Stapleton neighborhood, from the Stapleton platform of the Staten Island Railway. URL overlooks Upper New York Bay. Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

C.J. Hughes features Staten Island development in this week’s The New York Times.

From the article:

A wide bay may separate Staten Island from the rest of the city. But in terms of real estate, differences between the borough and other enclaves seem to be lifting like a morning fog.

New rentals and condominiums, some with perks like a pet spa or rooftop beehives, are rewriting the island’s skyline. Big-city cool is popping up in a place not always noted for it: Small-batch espresso will soon flow at a coffee shop; a jug band played kazoos at a recently opened brewery; and stores selling brand-name skinny-leg pants are on their way. And a fresh crop of renters and buyers, unable to afford pricier precincts and unfazed by stereotypes about how the place can seem insular, bland or run-down, are setting sail for the island.

 Rising on a desolate stretch of waterfront is URL Staten Island, short for “Urban Ready Life,” a $250 million mixed-use project with about 900 rental apartments in a series of buildings resembling factories, with bands of windows and flat roofs, the better to house bee hives.

The first phase, with 571 studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, will open this fall. Interiors will feature stone counters and bamboo floors, plus stacked washers and dryers. Studios will likely start around $1,600 a month, and two-bedrooms at $2,800, said David Barry, the president of Ironstate Development, the developer.

The site will contain 35,000 square feet of retail space, more than half of which is now leased. Among the future tenants are a pizzeria, a store dedicated to specialty olive oils and Lola Star, a Coney Island clothing shop that is soon to open a branch in that other rising outpost, the Rockaways. Coffeed, a chain that brewed its first cup in Long Island City, Queens, will also be there.

National chain stores, such as those that dot Staten Island’s strip malls, are not welcome at URL. “This place has its own special character,” Mr. Barry said. “The stores should reflect that.”

URL will also have a 5,000-square-foot plot planted with vegetables that can be purchased from an on-site farm stand. Or, for a fee, residents will be able to request that its kale, spinach, rainbow chard and mizuna be prepared by a chef who will do double duty as the head farmer, said Mr. Barry, who was sifting through résumés for the post as he spoke.


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Check out Beyond Borders this Saturday

A celebration of Puerto Rican heritage with music and dance, featuring Plena Dura y Bomba Group and Jose & Nydia Ocasio, at Tappen Park in Staten Island, NY.

A celebration of Puerto Rican heritage with music and dance, featuring Plena Dura y Bomba Group and Jose & Nydia Ocasio, at Tappen Park in Staten Island, NY.

Saturday April 18
Location: Gazebo @ South Beach Boardwalk

Ed Morales of the Village Voice once wrote that “life [in immigrant NYC] is tolerance for ambiguity.” This “tolerance for ambiguity,” he speaks of, is not only the tolerance for, but the ability to see the inherent strength in, living in-between: languages, cultures, perspectives, and approaches to daily life. Such a lifestyle requires constant improvisation on the part of the individual as they move between the myriad of cultural worlds they inhabit.

In honor of immigrant heritage celebrations in NYC, Beyond Borders-A Meeting of Cross-Cultural Improvisations seeks to explore this very concept through the medium of music. The three hour open-air concert brings musicians from varying cultural traditions present on Staten Island, together on the same stage to explore cross-cultural approaches to musical improvisation. The concert will be presented at the gazebo on the iconic Staten Island Boardwalk as part of SIA’s collaboration with the Boardwalk Events Initiative Group programming from (April) May-June.This boardwalk initiative is led by Mark Tranchina at the Vanderbilt/South Fin Grill and NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation. Curated around themes of improvisation and cultural heritage the line-up will feature Sri Lankan Hevisi drumming, Afro-Puerto Rican bomba y plena, Ghanaian percussion, Middle Eastern folk musics (North African, Turkish, Arab and Jewish), and American Jazz. The program will combine individual performances with a jam and artist talkback/Q&A session.

This “encuentro,” to borrow the spanish term, or impromptu meeting between musicians from diverse backgrounds and traditions, will showcase several distinct approaches to time and improvisation in music. As the performers will elucidate however, the cultural significance of such methods and techniques reaches far beyond the bandstand and can also be used to find points of connection and inter-cultural collaboration.

Event sponsored Staten Island Arts

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Tiny Houses BIG on Staten Island?

The Salsa Box Tiny House by Shelter Wise is a cozy, compact cabin with a queen-sized bed and lots of creative nooks and crannies for storage. (Michael Lloyd for

The Salsa Box Tiny House by Shelter Wise is a cozy, compact cabin with a queen-sized bed and lots of creative nooks and crannies for storage. (Michael Lloyd for

Tracey Porpora at The Staten Island Advance tackles this very question:

In the 1980s John Mellencamp sang about the American heartland where little pink houses exist.

Some decades later, builders are trying to make home ownership affordable by building “tiny houses” across the county — particularly in the Midwest.

Albeit not pink, these apartment-size houses are actually becoming a trend.

For example, the Portland, Or.-based Shelter Wise, has designed a compact 96-square-foot home, reports Though tiny by all standards, the design boasts all the amenities a homeowner needs: queen-size bed, bookshelves, bath and kitchen.

The best part: it costs only $22,500.

With the struggle for many middle- and low-income wage earners to be able to afford home ownership on Staten Island, some people are wondering if the tiny house could be the answer. 




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Support Project Hospitality’s “Dine Out Against Hunger”



Dine Out Against Hunger is a restaurant-based fundraiser to help fight hunger on Staten Island. Over 125 participating Staten Island restaurants pledge to give 20% of their food bill (excluding the bar bill) to Project Hospitality, an interfaith effort sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, and caring for people with HIV/AIDS.


This one-day event is set for:
Thursday, April 23, 2015


People of the community can support this effort simply by going out to eat at a participating restaurant on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Co-workers can dine out at breakfast, lunch and/or dinner together; friends and families can dine out in the evening.


At participating restaurants throughout Staten Island. FULL LIST


Project Hospitality helps the homeless, who struggle daily to find enough to eat, and the working poor, struggling to meet both rent and food costs. Project Hospitality is able to offer food, shelter, and hope during these challenging times with generous contributions from caring individuals, community organizations and businesses.


The co-chairs are Claire Regan, Associate Managing Editor of the Staten Island Advance and Frank Lombardi, Executive Chef of the Hilton Garden Inn. The Founding Community Sponsor is The Honorable James Oddo, President of the Borough of Staten Island. The founding Corporate Sponsor is the Staten Island Advance. The lead sponsor is Catering by Framboise. The Placemat Sponsors are Driscoll Foods, Northfield Bank, Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn and SYSCO Food Services of Metro NY and New York State Restaurant Association. A Poster Sponsor is Ashkar Corporation. Bronze sponsors are Victory State Bank, Rogers Surveying, NYC Hospitality Alliance and Richmond County Savings Foundation. Media sponsor is Mindsaw Web Development. The printing underwriter is R&L Press.

For more information

If you want to know more about Dine Out Against Hunger 2015, please call Project Hospitality at (718) 448-1544, ext. 163 or use the link to the left.

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SI Arts Scene to Draw on Ferris Wheel Visitors

Snug Harbor's Gabri Christa and Lynn Kelly are bringing more original programming to the center. Photo: Buck Ennis

Snug Harbor’s Gabri Christa and Lynn Kelly are bringing more original programming to the center.
Photo: Buck Ennis

Museums spruce up and expand to lure visitors from outlet center and the New York Wheel.

The fruits of Staten Island’s cultural renaissance are hard to miss these days. Visitors to the borough get their first glimpse upon landing in the ferry terminal, where a gallery that opened last summer features handmade jewelry and other crafts by local artisans in shows that change every seven weeks.

The 2,500-square-foot space is run by the nonprofit Staten Island Arts. Islanders hope it will help pique visitors’ interest in the borough and possibly persuade them to sample some of its growing number of attractions.

Last summer, the National Lighthouse Museum debuted with a few exhibits in a building a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal. A formal opening is slated for August. A month later, the Staten Island Museum will open a building with 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than double what it has now. Meanwhile, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden hired an artistic director last December—its first in more than 15 years—to bring more original programming to the 83-acre campus as part of a campaign to draw more visitors.

“There is so much to do on Staten Island,” said Lynn Kelly, president and chief executive of Snug Harbor, which is just a short bus ride from the ferry terminal. “We are really starting to get more traction.”

Read Full Story at Crain’s NY Business

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