Charleston, Staten Island, New York City
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Charleston is the name of a neighborhood, or section, of New York City's borough of Staten Island. It is located on the island's South Shore, immediately to the north of Tottenville.
The community's original name was Kreischerville, named after Balthasar Kreischer (1813-1886), a Bavarian immigrant who opened a brick factory there in 1854 (it was rebuilt after an 1877 fire) and erected an elaborate mansion for his family located at 4500 Arthur Kill Road. The mansion, also built in 1854, still stands, and was renovated by the Staten Island Land Development LLC. The mansion has a certificate of occupancy for a 70 seat restaurant that will operate at night. When the brick factory closed in 1927, the neighborhood became known, quasi-officially, as Charleston (informal use of the latter name actually began during World War I as a consequence of the anti-German sentiment fanned by the entry of the United States into that conflict in 1917; "Charleston" appears to have been chosen so as to name the village after Charles Kreischer, one of Balthasar Kreischer's sons).
Charleston once had its own United States Post Office branch, and mail sent there bore the postal code "Staten Island 13, New York." The post office, located at 28 Androvette Street, was closed in 1949. While neighborhoods on Staten Island do not have universally agreed-upon boundaries, most observers today reckon Charleston as consisting of a triangle-shaped territory enclosed by Bloomingdale Road, the Richmond Parkway, and the Arthur Kill; this gives Charleston a slightly larger area than that which the former post office served - and by the current prevailing definition Charleston includes Sandy Ground, settled in 1833 by African-Americans who had achieved freedom from slavery, most of whom came to the area from Maryland; remnants of the original settlement still exist. development of an approximately 210,300 square foot, 120 unit adult community development is scheduled to break ground Summer 2007.Kresicherville active Adult community is slated to cost $25 million dollars and will preserve the Kreischer mansion as a central landmark for the development.
Charleston is one of the most remote and sparsely-populated areas on Staten Island, and for that matter, within all of New York City. In addition to the Kreischer mansion and Sandy Ground, the neighborhood is also home to the Clay Pit Pond State Park Preserve, and the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison which was originally opened as a residential drug rehabilitation center. Even today many Charleston residents still keep horses on their property, and it is not unusual for a motorist driving along Sharrotts Road, one of the community's principal thoroughfares, to be stopped by a horse crossing the road.
Despite having a very low crime rate along with the rest of the South Shore, Charleston was nonetheless home to two crime-related figures, one a perpetrator and the other a victim, as "thrill killer" Richard Biegenwald (who committed a 1958 murder and was subsequently convicted of another killing that took place in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1983) was born and raised there; and in 1990, the neighborhood attracted more media attention when an anti-gay hate crime was committed there: James Zappalorti, a 45-year-old disabled veteran of the Vietnam War, was stabbed to death by two assailants, one of whom also resided in Charleston at the time. The Zappalorti murder sparked renewed calls for New York State to adopt enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by bias.
Recent development in the area has spawned a new shopping center called the Bricktown Center, housing Staten Island's first and only Target and third Home Depot. Also currently under construction is The Tides at Charleston, a senior living community, and a second shopping center along Veterans Road West.
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