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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