Tuesday, August 07, 2007

daytrippers 1: staten island

[basilio’s, jacques marchais tibetan museum, conference house, view of narrows, alice austen house, garibaldi-meucci museum, snug harbor, staten island railway (sir)]

from end to end, this borough is a great place to explore. daytrippers can only skim its “surface.” other amazing spots on staten island include the national lighthouse museum (http://www.lighthousemuseum.org/), the davis wildlife refuge (www.sigreenbelt.org/About/WTDavis/wtdavis.htm), sandy ground historical museum (statenislandusa.com/pages/sandy_ground.html), and the staten island zoo (http://www.statenislandzoo.org/) at which is found one of the most amazing and complete collections of reptiles—especially rattlesnakes and other poisonous reptiles. birthplace of joan baez, emilio estevez, and mother bloor, as well as the former home of paul and jane bowles, there is much to discover here.

staten island museum (http://www.statenislandmuseum.org/), where my mother once exhibited one of her paintings in the mid-1960s, is just two blocks away from the staten island ferry terminal. also known as the staten island institute of arts & sciences), it is new york city’s only general interest museum—exploring the arts, natural science, and local history through permanent and changing exhibitions.

jacques marchais tibetan museum (www.tibetanmuseum.org) near historic richmond town is an amazing collection 1,200 objects of tibetan buddhist art--from tibet, mongolia, and northern china—dating from the 15th to early 20th century. nestled in a most contemplative place on lighthouse hill and resembling a small himalayan monastery, this architectural gem is surrounded by meditation gardens and its collection is especially rich in statues of buddhas, lamas, arhats, protector deities, thangka paintings and 18th century qianlong cloisonné. do check out its 60th anniversary exhibition, “from staten island to shangri la: the collecting life of jacques marchais,” which runs until december 31, 2008.

historic richmond town (http://www.historicrichmondtown.org/) occupies 25 acres of a 100-acre site with about 15 restored buildings, including homes, commercial and civic buildings, and a museum. historically furnished interiors and museum exhibits are but a segment of its resources. of special note are the “open village,” bluegrass festival, and richmond county fair. nearby one can find st. andrew’s episcopal church, the cemetery of which contains the grave of elizabeth ann bayley seton (1744-1821) , the first american-born roman catholic saint (as opposed to mother cabrini who was the first american saint). her grandfather was rector of the church.

alice austen house (http://www.aliceausten.org/) is a national historic landmark at which are presented exhibitions of the work of alice austen and other photographers. austen's work is significant because of its high quality, range, and level of expression that together form a view of 19th century america. the site itself—with its history, architecture, landscape, and waterfront location at the foot of hylan boulevard with a great view of the narrows—is of note.

garibaldi-meucci museum (http://www.garibaldimeuccimuseum.org/), owned and operated by the sons of italy, is located in rosebank. historic home of antonio meucci (the actual inventor of the telephone) and legendary italian patriot giuseppe garibaldi, this building was erected in the 1840s in gothic-revival style. seeking refuge in new york in 1850, garibaldi lived here until 1854 when he returned to italy to lead its victorious unification.

conference house (www.historichousetrust.org/item.php?i_id=33) is surrounded by the conference house park at the very tip of staten island in tottenville. here, in september 1776—at this house built in 1680—john adams, edward rutledge, and benjamin franklin represented the continental congress in negotiations with britain’s admiral lord richard howe. while the group put forth options for a peaceful end to the revolutionary war, ultimately no agreement was reached and hostilities continued another seven years. tours of this restored house provide a glimpse of what life was like at the time.

snug harbor cultural center (http://www.snug-harbor.org/), now affiliated with the smithsonian, is a cultural center set within an 83-acre national historic landmark on staten island’s north shore not far from the staten island ferry. containing the finest collection of greek revival buildings in the united states, plus beaux arts, italianate and victorian style architecture set in lush parkland this gem exists today only because citizens fought tirelessly to save it from destruction. the deteriorated buildings of a seamen's retirement home have been transformed into a center for the arts. found here are the newhouse center for contemporary art, the actors harbor theater, the staten island children’s museum, art lab art school, the staten island botanical garden, and the noble maritime collection.

staten island railway runs from the ferry terminal in st. george to tottenville and is the surviving—though thriving—segment of a system that once had south beach and north shore lines. in 1953, the b&o railroad, the private owner of staten island passenger train service threatened to end that service. new york city agreed to subsidize the tottenville line. the south beach and north shore lines then became defunct. in 1971, new york city bought staten island rapid transit from b&o at a cost of $3.5 million.

for staten island ferry departures and connections to mta and new york city transit:

for the mta staten island railway timetable:

a great overall source for happenings, events, and cultural resources on staten island is the council on the arts and humanities for staten island (coahsi) and its very thorough newsletter at:

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