Saturday, October 28, 2006

One day while at home in our little castle on Staten Island I heard a ding dong sound similar to an icecream truck. I looked out my window and I saw a bright, lipstick red, truck with knives and blades carefully painted on it. I thought, "What the hell is this??!!" I tried to get a photo but the truck took off around the corner. The next time it came by my husband went out to investigate. It was a knife sharpening truck. How many neighborhoods can boast having one of these? Recently, I spoke to the truck owner, an elderly Italian fellow, and told him that my husband surely had some knives to be sharpened if he came by on the weekend. He promised to come by on a Saturday sometime before Thanksgiving. Keep your ears peeled!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Our Lovely, Livable Island

Photo: Victorian Mansion on St. Pauls Ave.

It seems like the New York press are starting to recognize our lovely little island. First, last week New York Magazine (October 2, 2006 issue, page 46 and 47) listed Staten Island as a "Neighborhood Value" in their cover feature "How To Navigate The Finally Turning, But Wacky & Confusing, (Upside Down) Real-Estate Market". Our stomping ground, the North Shore, is finally getting its due. This week New York Magazine asks why there are no plans for a first-class museum going up in Staten Island (see the blog post below this one). Today, Time Out NY, ranks two of our favorite Staten Island blocks as "The Top 50 Best Blocks in New York." Stapleton received the same score as St. George in the transportation category which we disagree with. St. George is closer to the ferry terminal and that was the clincher for us in choosing St. George over Stapleton, but we love both neighborhoods.
New York Magazine:
Staten Island
First-time homebuyers have helped to keep the low end active, while the recent end of tax abatements has made buying new high-end construction a less attractive option than it was a year ago. As a result, the borough's more suburban South Shore - where the bulk of pricey houses have gone up - is due for a slump. The island's North Shore, with its more diverse, urban stock, is better suited to weather the storm. Best Buy: The St. George neighborhood around the ferry terminal is just starting to be discovered. you can even find artist lofts, and we'll take the S.I. Yankees' waterfront stadium over the Cyclones' any day.
Time Out NY:
#17, St. Pauls Avenue between Beach and Clinton Streets, Stapleton, Staten Island
Those rambling Victorian homes definitely give St. Pauls Avenue and this historic district a lot of style. And when you want some decent alternatives to the tranquility, nearby Van Duzer Street offers plenty of good food, drink and live music.
Time Out NY:
#41, St. Marks Place between Hyatt Street and Victory Boulevard, St. George, Staten Island
St. Marks Place is conviently close to the ferry, but a farmers' market on your doorstep and a fabulous array of perfectly kept homes make for pristine departure from downtown Staten Island.
Photo: Victorian House on St. Marks Ave.

At Least They're Thinking of Us...

New York Magazine asks the question nobody else would: Why no big budget museum expension for Staten Island? It's so audacious I wouldn't even think of asking it myself. Somehow, SI has added itself to the real estate zeitgeist (to the extent one can argue New York is a reflection of reality). We were already shocked when the mag recently listed St. George as one of the last places in NYC to find a real estate deal. Wait a minute, could it be that New York's publisher Larry Burstein now owns some property here or something?

The fact that they used the words "Forgotten" and "Staten Island" in the same sentence tells me that Kevin Walsh's top-secret subliminal messaging plan to make everyone aware of the forgotten borough (NY's words, not mine) may actually be working. It's worked on us, at any rate.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

openhousenewyork: This Weekend

Photo: Seguine Mansion

openhousenewyork hosts year-round educational programs celebrating New York City’s built-environment, culminating in America’s largest architecture and design event, the Annual openhousenewyork Weekend. Check out their website to see what is still available to view today. Some of Prodigal Borough's picks are the cellphone tour of the High Line in the Meatpacking District, Seguine Mansion, Gowanus Canal Canoe Tour, Horse Trails to Subway Rails, Ellis Island's South Side, Governor's Island, Last Exit to Brooklyn: Red Hook, and Tom Otterness's art studio.
Photo: Alice Austen House

On Staten Island you can visit:

The Attic at the Staten Island Museum, which boasts one of the largest collection of cicadas in North America, artifacts of the first Staten Islanders, birds, preserved frogs and more.

The Alice Austen House Museum, where visitors can see an exhibit of more than 40 Dutch 17th-century paintings, furniture and household objects, in addition to the biographical artifacts of Alice Austen.

Jacob Crocheron House, considered the finest Federal-period architecture of the lower Hudson Valley, in prototypical American "Dutch Colonial" form incorporating precise Georgian symmetry. The house was moved to Historic Richmond Town in 1987 and is being restored.

Moravian Cemetery, which was founded in 1740. It has two freshwater lakes on 114 acres, and serves as an outdoor museum for sculpture.

The Noble Maritime Collection, a maritime museum focusing on the work of American lithographer John A. Noble, featuring his houseboat studio and the history of Sailor's Snug Harbor, with re-creations of the original features of the sailors' retirement home.

St. George Theatre, which originally opened in 1929 as a showcase for vaudeville and motion pictures. The interior of the theater is a combination of Spanish and Italian baroque design and features ornate windows, grand staircases and oversized paintings.

The Seguine Mansion, a Greek Revival structure that faces Prince's Bay. It was built in 1838 by Joseph H. Seguine.

For more information on OHNY, visit or call 212-991-OHNY.

History + Architecture = Staten Island

Photo: New York Magazine

Especially now that the temperature is dropping and the leaves are falling from the numerous trees around town, we've started to see some architecture we'd forgotten about over the summer. Our friend Kevin Walsh, of Forgotten New York fame pointed out this rustic and beautiful 18th century home to me the other day -- you can read all about it in this recent New York Magazine article. We've seen this house a hundred times while going past on a somewhat industrial part of Richmond Terrace, and had no idea it was such a gem.
Photo: New York Magazine

And speaking of Kevin Walsh, I was thrilled to finally get my pre-ordered Amazon copy of Kevin's book, Forgotten New York: Views of a Lost Metropolis in the mail the other day. It's a beautiful book, and the ultimate guide for tourists of history. Since meeting Kevin, I've already witnessed the destruction of a few of my favorite New York places -- most recently a row of beautiful but neglected townhouses on 45th Street that used to house my favorite lunch place. Three were flattened this week to make room for a eurochic super-hotel, surely the answer to a question that nobody asked.