On the Staten Island Ferry’s 115th birthday, we take a tour of the island’s North Shore waterfront. Seen by Staten Islanders as culturally distinct from the neighborhoods south of the expressway, the North Shore is home to the borough’s cultural and industrial centers, interspersed with forgotten villages and dilapidated mansions. But even here, gentrification and transit investments aim to remake the waterfront just as climate change increases its vulnerability.>> Continue reading
In the second installment of this series on the history and ecology of Staten Island’s North Shore, we are joined by Karen Imas, Senior Director of Programs at the Waterfront Alliance to discuss the organization’s recent study of island’s northeast shore, stretching from the Verrazzano Bridge to Stapleton. This study takes a community-centered approach to dealing with issues of waterfront access, resiliency, preparing for climate change, and the working waterfront using the organization’s Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG).>> Continue reading
Join Turnstile Tours and the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a virtual panel discussion to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Frederick Law Olmsted’s report for the Staten Island Improvement Commission, a comprehensive plan for the island’s growth and development. We will hear unique perspectives about Staten Island in the late 1800s, Olmsted’s public health recommendations, and his legacy in the greenest borough of New York City. The panel will include Prof. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Director of Graduate Landscape Architecture Program at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture; Jessica Kratz of the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center; naturalist Ed Johnson, emeritus curator of science at the Staten Island Museum; and moderated by Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours.>> Continue reading
In colonial New York, reliable power came from muscles (human and animal), firewood, and tides. From Spuyten Duyvil to Marine Park, Wallabout Bay to Flushing Bay, settlers turned many tidal marshes across New York’s vast estuary into millponds to run machinery as the water ebbed. In this virtual program, Brad Vogel of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club and the Tide Mill Institute will share examples of this green energy from the past.
- Sergey Kadinsky’s Hidden Waters Blog
- Verdant Power
- Pliant Energy Systems
- PortSide NY’s Red Hook WaterStories
- Marine Park Alliance
- New York Preservation Archive Project
The fastest way to the beach is on the NYC Ferry, so join us for another virtual boat tour as we cruise the Lower New York Bay. We will pick up the ferry in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, then make our way under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, past Coney Island, and down to the Rockaways. Along the way, we will discuss the forts and islands that used to protect the harbor, the history of recreation along the city’s Atlantic seaboard, and the rich aquatic life of Jamaica Bay and the New York Bight. At the end of the tour, we’ll take a walk across the Rockaway Peninsula and virtually stroll along the beach.
- New York Seascape map
- Coney Island History Project
- “A Subway to Staten Island?” (New York Times)
- “The 1858 Quarantine Fires in Staten Island” (NYPL)
- “Cherishing Life’s Ferris Wheel Ride” (New York Times)
- “Wonder Wheel Park Matriarch Dies, But Dream Will Keep Spinning” (NY1)
- “The Golden Venture: 25 Years Later” (Rockaway Times)
Join us for a special panel discussion and virtual tour of Staten Island’s landmark Olmsted-Beil House, an historic farmhouse and museum where landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted began his monumental career. While Central Park, Prospect Park, and countless other parks across America display Olmsted’s genius, beginning in 1848, this farmstead is where he developed his professional interest in landscape design. Here he learned horticulture, experimented with different plants and landscape forms, and wrote about his travels to public parks in Europe. On this program, we will explore the property grounds with historian and Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House board member Patricia Salmon, and we will be joined by Justin Martin, author of Olmsted biography Genius of Place.
Because New York City lacks any freight rail crossing of the Hudson River, Staten Island is the lone borough with direct access to ports and rail lines west of the Hudson. Today the rail and container facilities there are vital to the port’s operations, but in the 1990s, this link was lost. Don Lotz, retired Manager of Intermodal Development for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (and long-time Turnstile Member), will join us to share his experience with this vital project. He will dig into the design and construction required to restore rail freight service to Staten Island, including rehabilitation of the Arthur Kill Vertical-Lift Bridge, which has the longest lift-span of any vertical lift bridge in the world, and the challenges this corner of the port – and all of New York City’s waterfront – faced due to massive changes to the manufacturing and shipping industries.
- NYCEDC Freight NYC
- Port Authority ExpressRail
- Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
- WATCH By Land or By Sea: The Port of New York Paradox
- WATCH Exploring the Erie Canal with Will Van Dorp
From the Civil War through the 1960’s, a site next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal served as the central depot supplying America’s lighthouses and Aids to Navigation. Join us for a virtual visit with historian Wade Goria to the National Lighthouse Museum, which tells the story of this essential service and the people, equipment, and structures that have kept America’s shipping channels safe.
- National Lighthouse Museum • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram
- Upcoming tours and events
- WATCH Lilac Preservation Project virtual program
- WATCH Coast Guard History virtual program
- WATCH Kate Walker virtual program
To mark the 230th birthday of the United States Coast Guard, we’re looking back at the history of the “always ready” service. Due to New York’s position as one of the country’s largest ports, the Coast Guard has ensured its safety and security for more than two centuries, and today they have the largest presence of any military service branch in New York City. We will share stories of the Coast Guard fighting U-boats in both World Wars, hunting bootleggers during Prohibition, and ensuring the safe navigation of the harbor for everybody from container ships to kayakers. We will also be joined by Coast Guard veteran Ramon Ortiz, who served aboard the icebreaking tug USCGC Sturgeon Bay and in Coast Guard Sector New York.
- History of the Coast Guard
- Lilac Preservation Project
- PortSide New York Red Hook WaterStories
- National Lighthouse Museum
- Jack Dempsey and the Manhattan Beach Coast Guard Training Center
- Naval History, “The Coast Guard’s World War II Crucible”
By the time he published Moby-Dick in 1851, Herman Melville’s career as a popular prose writer was almost over. While Melville was working on the docks as a customs inspector to support his family, his younger brother Thomas was across the harbor with one of the best jobs in New York City: governor of Staten Island’s Sailors’ Snug Harbor. Join this virtual program to celebrate Herman’s 201st birthday with John Rocco, a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Coordinator of the Maritime and Naval Studies (MNST) Master’s program at SUNY Maritime College, who will introduce us to the Melville brothers’ relationship and its impact on Melville’s “lost” years and final work, Billy Budd, Sailor.
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanic Garden
- SUNY Maritime College
- Stephen B. Luce Library Maritime Digital Collections
- The Melville Society
- Noble Maritime Collection