OUR STATEN ISLAND was the working and eventual title of this book – and appropriately so. Being fourth-generation-born Staten Islanders, my brother and I had a special sense of being native early on. Our family laid down the bare roots that made us realize that our story here began, in what seemed to us “olden times.”
Along with their stories was a simple book of our grandfather’s relating the history of Staten Island. Its photos – many of ancient structures from the 1700’s – were powerful images that made “the old” come to life. They gave us an idea of how our family’s lives fit into the context of times and events on a still rural Island. Once we latched on to our budding interest in history, we never let go, and it eventually demanded that we follow through; not only to learn the history of our family, but of Staten Island as well.
Unwittingly, the journey began by collecting newspaper stories and images over time. Eventually we made our way to the reference section of our libraries and museum archives where we came to know who the really good borough historians were, and their works.
Eventually we gave motion to what we had learned and collected over the years by taking this legacy “on the road” – by car and eventually on foot – to visit the subject matter “in person.” We created our own tours and saw a certain value in walking the old native Indian trails that became the Island’s first roads, so they could fully speak their history to us. In doing so, we literally covered hundreds of miles paying homage to the place we live and love!
This passionate pursuit, in retrospect, became an excellent journey that needed to be shared. No other writer has offered up a history of Staten Island in this unique way of taking the reader on that journey of discovery to experience it just as we did: through woods, along old roads; through centuries of change, people and events along the way as we learned the history of “Our Staten Island.”