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City Living: Exploring St. George/Stapleton

History and a growing arts community converge in

History and a growing arts community converge in St. George/Stapleton. (Anthony Lanzilote) Credit: History and a growing arts community converge in St. George/Stapleton. (Anthony Lanzilote)

For those New Yorkers who never step foot in Staten Island, there’s a lot more to the borough than parks and the Wu Tang Clan. St. George and Stapleton, the borough’s most ethnically diverse areas, have become go-to spots for young homebuyers along with being cultural and historic hubs.

In the 2000s, the area was promoted as the borough’s downtown. Immigrants and young home buyers relocated to these neighborhoods for affordability, space and access to Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry.

The future of Staten Island’s arts, culture and business center is in the ongoing development of a long-ignored stretch of waterfront with stellar views of Manhattan.

“You have all the ingredients for something special and dynamic to take place down there,” said Frank Rizzo, the CEO of Cornerstone Realty Partners.

Meanwhile, Staten Island’s Sri Lankan and Hispanic populations have put the North Shore on the map for authentic ethnic cuisines.

“It’s undergoing a renaissance. It’s evolving,” said Holly Wiesner Olivieri, a real estate agent who specializes in the North Shore.

Buyers can find historic Victorian and colonial homes from the early 20th and late 19th centuries alongside newer construction.

Olivieri said the North Shore could shake the stigma that Staten Island is a boring place to live.

“I would encourage them to spend a day here,” she said of the borough’s detractors.

Mark Davis, a Hunter College student from Westchester County, decided to buy a two-family colonial home after moving to Staten Island for the cheap rent and a low-cost commute.

“It’s very easy being right by the ferry. It makes a huge difference,” he said.

“I like the amount of space I get here too.”

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THE BASICS

TRANSPORTATION
There are no transit lines on Staten Island, except for a railroad that runs along the east shore.

Commuters must rely on a public bus system and the Staten Island Ferry.
Trains
Staten Island Rail Road
Buses
S61/91, S62/92, S66, S51/81, S74/84, S76/86, S46/96, S48/98, S78, S40/90, S42, S44/94, S52.

LIBRARY
New York Public Library-Stapleton, 132 Canal St.
St. George Library Center, Central Ave.

Post Office
Ferry Terminal 5 Bay St.
160 Tompkins Ave.

SCHOOLS
Curtis High School, 105 Hamilton Ave.
P.S. 31, 55 Layton Ave.
P.S. 14, 100 Tompkins Ave.
P.S. 74, 211 Daniel Low Terr.

CRIME
The neighborhoods are within the 120th Precinct and generally have a higher crime rate than the rest of Staten Island. Last year, the precinct saw seven murders, 289 robberies and 400 burglaries.

TO EAT
San Rasa, 226 Bay St.

When Sri Lankans moved to Staten Island’s North Shore, their restaurants followed. The Sunday buffet is an all-you-can-eat special for $11. 718-420-0027

Ruddy and Dean’s, 44 Richmond Terr.
Located within minutes from the Staten Island Ferry, Ruddy and Dean’s is a classic steakhouse with an outdoor dining terrace that provides a Manhattan view. 718-816-4400

Rick’s Café, 695 Bay St.
Named after Humphrey Bogart’s character in “Casablanca,” Rick’s Café is a restaurant and wine bar that attempts to recreate a stylish Manhattan atmosphere with a mahogany bar, exposed brick walls and a fireplace. 718-727-FOOD

Vida, 381 Van Duzer St.
This eatery has an eclectic menu that ranges from gumbo with smoked sausage and chicken to seafood linguine. 718-720-1501

TO PARTY
Jimmie Steiny’s, 3 Hyatt St.

This bar features standard pub fare and a beer list, but also has a martini and specialty cocktail menu. When local musicians aren’t playing, find out if its jukebox is, as its website says, the best in New York. 718-442-9526

120 Bay Café, 120 Bay St.
Known for years as the Cargo Café, new management kept the qualities that made the bar and restaurant a Staten Island favorite: eccentric local art, live music and a good beer selection. 718-273-7770

Full Cup, 388 Van Duzer St.
This coffee shop is best known as a venue for emerging Staten Island musical talent and open-mic enthusiasts. 718-442-4224

Dock Street Underground,691 Bay St.
This is Staten Island’s legendary rock club for local icons and high school garage bands alike. Bands that play at Dock Street Underground range from metal and hardcore to jazz and blues rock. 347-723-1825

TO DO
Tour historic district

Late 19th-century Queen Anne and colonial revivals are clustered throughout St. George. The official historic district in the neighborhood contains about 78 buildings.

St. George Theater, 35 Hyatt St.
This 1929 theater survived decades of disrepair and neglect before it was fully restored in 2004. Now the theater hosts stars such as the New York City Opera, Blondie and Jerry Seinfeld. 718-442-2900

Staten Island Yankees at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, 75 Richmond Terr.
Catch a baseball game and maybe a foul ball at the home of the Staten Island Yankees, the Bronx Bombers’ minor league team. 718-720-9265

Staten Island Museum, 5 Stuyvesant Place.
Learn Staten Island’s history at the borough’s museum, which first opened in 1881 by early environmentalists. In addition to art and history, the museum also features a natural science collection. 718-727-1135

Go to Manhattan
The retail expansion has yet to hit Staten Island’s North Shore, so shopping on the island is done in plazas and the Staten Island Mall. But Manhattan is just a 25-minute ferry ride away.

TO SHOP

Every Thing Goes Thrift and Vintage, 140 Bay St.
Vintage and consignment shops elsewhere in the city are either picked clean or pricey, but Every Thing Goes thrift store has unique gems at bargain costs. 718-273-7139

Every Thing Goes Furniture, 17 Brook St.
Members of the collective-living community who run the clothing shop also operate a 10,000-square-foot antique furniture store. 718-273-0568

St. George Greenmarket
From May to the end of November, the St. George Greenmarket provides Staten Islanders with farm-fresh food, as well as seafood and specialty Mexican produce. GrowNYC.org

THE BUZZ
Change is coming to the North Shore after decades of being in the “forgotten borough.”

St. George will soon be home to the world’s largest Ferris wheel, a $250 million project that will start in 2014. In Stapleton, a former U.S. naval base will become a retail center and residential community close to the Staten Island Ferry.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited dream of retail inside the Staten Island Ferry terminal has come true, with the addition of fast-food chains such as Au Bon Pain and a post office.

The first sit-down restaurant, River Dock Café, is expected to open there later this year.

Tariq Zaid is proud of Stapleton and Staten Island.

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Biz owner Tariq Zaid on why the area rocks

The 36-year-old owns Richmond Hood Co., a five-year-old streetwear store in nearby West Brighton that sells sneakers, hats and T-shirts with Staten Island-themed designs. Zaid was a part of the first wave of businesses on the North Shore when he first opened in Stapleton. He had to move from the neighborhood to get more foot traffic, but once a month, Zaid can be found in Stapleton at Full Cup café hosting a monthly open mic and poetry show he calls “Eargasms”.

Has Stapleton changed since you opened your business there?
Stapleton is still an awesome place for the artists’ community. … We did the [prescription] “Pillz Killz” wall on the side of the building — you don’t see too many walls in Staten Island that are made available to street art and to artists to provide a beautiful landscape for the neighborhood. … We push the culture, man. We’re artists, we love music, we appreciate the talent that comes from Staten Island. We want to support it, we want to perpetuate it to our friends who don’t know about it.

In what ways do you promote Staten Island to visitors?
We’re still New York City. … There are pros and there are cons but we have more park land than any other borough on Staten Island. We have the best hills for bombing on skateboards and trails for riding your bike. We have an awesome beachfront. It’s an awesome borough and it’s very community knit.

What do you think is in the future for the area?
Bloomberg calls the North Shore of Staten Island, in one of his city addresses ... one of New York City’s last golden coasts. So there was lots of real estate interest when he recognized that. ... The economy sank and it changed the interest of the area. Maybe, hey this isn’t the smartest place to invest, but Domino’s Pizza came to town. … These [chain] businesses start to look at the area and say, “There’s something there.” They’re early. But the way I see it, we’re earlier than them
 

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