Stapleton, Staten Island, New York City
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Stapleton is a neighborhood in northeastern Staten Island in New York City in the United States. It is located along the waterfront of Upper New York Bay, bounded on the north by Tompkinsville at Grant Street, on the south by Clifton at Vanderbilt Avenue, and on the west by St. Paul's Avenue and Van Duzer Street, which form the border with the community of Grymes Hill. Stapleton is one of the older waterfront neighborhoods of the borough, built in the 1830s on land once owned by the Vanderbilt family. It was a long-time commercial center of the island, but has struggled to revive after several decades of neglect following the building in 1964 of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which shifted the commercial development of the island to its interior.
The neighborhood was the site of the farm where Cornelius Vanderbilt grew up, at the location of the present-day Paramount Theater building on Bay Street (the theater itself having closed in the eartly 1980s). In the early 19th century it became the commercial center of Southfield Township. In 1832 William J. Staples, a merchant from Manhattan for whom the neighborhood is named, as well as Minthorne Tompkins, the son of Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins, acquired land from the Vanderbilts and laid out the streets. Staples and Tompkins started a ferry service from the neighborhood waterfront to Manhattan and began advertising their new village in 1836.
Seaman's Retreat, a hospital for sailors entering New York Harbor, opened in 1832 and later became Bayley Seton Hospital, the largest employer in the neighborhood until the Sisters of Charity, an order of Roman Catholic nuns which operated the facility, closed it in 2004 (the property is sometimes reckoned as belonging to Clifton, Stapleton's neighbor to the south). It was also for many years the site of a United States Public Health Service Hospital.
The neighborhood was the location of several springs which led to the establishment of several German-American breweries in the middle 19th century. The last brewery closed in 1963. Stapleton's town hall still stands, located in Tappen Park. The Staten Island Rapid Transit railway has a stop in Stapleton.
In 1884, it was incorporated as the village of Edgewater. In 1884, the Staten Island Railway extended its track from the neighborhood northward to St. George. Direct ferry service from the neighborhood to Manhattan was halted two years later in 1886.
The city built piers in 1920, but they were never fully exploited. From 1937 to 1942 several of the piers were used as the first Foreign Trade Zone in the United States. From 1942 to 1945, they became the New York Port of Embarkation for the United States Army. After World War II, the piers once again became a foreign trade zone, but their use declined and most of the piers were demolished by the 1970s. The last, used for fishing, was removed when the U.S. Navy proposed to build a base in Stapleton in the 1980s.
In 1983, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman selected Stapleton to be the Homeport for a naval unit headed by the Battleship Iowa, as part of the dispersal of the Navy during a military build up ordered by President Ronald Reagan. This proposal became highly controversial throughout Staten Island when analysis of the proposal showed a net loss of civilian jobs on Staten Island (mainly due to expected job-seekers among naval dependents, but also due to a loss of businesses forced out by the naval presence), as well as the expectation that the Tomahawk cruise missiles aboard the Iowa and an accompanying Aegis cruiser would in at least some cases be carrying nuclear war heads. Following years of debate, which slowed development of the base, the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union led to a major cutback in military spending, and the still incomplete base was cancelled in 1993. Shortly thereafter, a plan was floated to build a race-track on the site, to be primarily used by NASCAR. The plan was quickly forgotten. Also headquarted at the site is one of three fireboats, FDNY Marine company 9.
After sitting empty for a couple years, the base site was used by a bagel manufacturer briefly. Then a proposal was made to have a movie studio occupy the six acre site. For never explained reasons the city administration opposed this, and finally some of the civil courts took over a small part of the site, leaving most unused while various proposals were made for housing, parkland, and an educational complex, among others.
On October 26th, 2006, the New York City council approved a massive redevolpment plan for the site. It will be transformed into a new community with 350 housing units, restaurants, parks, a recreation center and farmers' market.The City Council pushed the project through its final regulatory hurdle when it approved the $66 million blueprint for the former Navy base.
The city will use the money and an additional $1.1 million state grant to create streets, utilities and a mile-long waterfront esplanade while soliciting proposals from private developers to build on six sites -- three residential and three commercial -- across the 36-acre base. City officials have said infrastructure work could begin in early 2007 with a projected completion date of 2009.
The neighborhood is also the home of I.S.49. This school now sits across from the Stapleton Houses. The school was opened around 1963. Many adults in the area have attended this school and remember it. The school is currently having a renovation project as of 2005.
The Stapleton Houses, a housing project sponsored by the State of New York, opened in 1962. At eight stories high, its buildings are the tallest to be found within any such project on the island. It is the largest New York City Housing Authority project on Staten Island.
Between the time of 1929 to 1931 Stapleton had their own NFL Pro Football Team, the Staten Island Stapletons.
A famous resident of Stapleton: Dennis Coles, a.k.a Ghostface Killah (rapper of the Wu-Tang Clan), and Tristan Wilds.
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