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In 1687 Captain Christopher Billop turned the trick and the island, named "Richmond" by the Duke, was a part of New York -- almost.
     From that time forward it seemed that Staten Island was rarely in agreement with the four boroughs across the Upper Bay, and frequently at odds with the rest of the nation.
     During the Revolutionary War Staten Island's populace was Royalist; when General Howe occupied the island he was enthusiastically cheered by the natives. The good feelings paled somewhat with the 30,000 troops, including sailors from four hundred war vessels, billeted there.
     During the Civil War, the islanders were sympathetic with the South; when the 1863 Draft Law ignited riots in Abolitionist Manhattan one can only image the abandon of the Staten Islanders in protest.

     And though America's large battles of the 20th Century appeared as popular on Staten Island as elsewhere, the population's alienation from the larger city spawned a serious secession movement as recently as a decade ago, quelled only after Rudolph Giuliani's ascension to the Mayoralty in 1994 addressed Islanders' concerns.

Early Transportation
For a long time the separation of its people from those of the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx was physical as well as intellectual. The first common carrier of any sort was by ferry. The first regular service did not start until 1713. In 1810 New York Central Railroad mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt began his fortune (at the age of 16) with a Staten Island ferry.

     Much the same scene might have taken place when a prehistoric Algonquin noticed that the valley between what is now New Jersey and the hilly peninsula that was to become Staten Island was beginning to flood. As decade followed decade it might have taken more of a canoe trip to make it across after the spring thaws. That stream is the Great Arthur Kill, and, by isolating the society that grew there, it did much the same thing to Staten Island that the Channel did to Britain -- though on a smaller scale.
     Staten Island, discovered by Giovanna da Verrazano in 1524, and named by Henrik Hudson in 1609, first became a curiosity after England's Duke of York claimed Nieuw Amsterdam for the Crown. The former Dutch colony included large parts of New Jersey and New York. A dispute promptly arose as to whether the New York or New Jersey colony was entitled to the island. Geographically it was impossible to conceive of it belonging to anything but New Jersey, a conclusion New York was not going to accept. So the Duke declared that whosoever could get a boat to circumnavigate the island within twenty-four hours could have it.

Grasmere 1919 -- When steam locomotives hauled wooden 'L'-type coaches, including a baggage-coach (with door) ...

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Updated Sunday, December 23, 2001

©1965 Silver Leaf Rapid Transit. ©2001 Paul Matus. ©2001 The Composing Stack Inc.