New York/Staten Island

Travel Guide North America USA Northeastern United States New York New York New York/Staten Island

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Introduction

Staten Island is New York City's "Forgotten Borough" across New York Harbor from Manhattan. Staten Island may seem like it's in an entirely different world than the hustle and bustle expected in New York City. However, it still has some of the features you've come to expect from the city. This combination of city influences and its rural origins have created a unique borough that is a great place to visit. Although most people just take the free ferry ride over in order to catch the views of Manhattan the island is worth more then just a quick turn around. It is an enjoyable place that is worth walking around and is home to several minor league sports teams. If you want to get the local feel Staten Island is the place to go.

Staten Island is New York City's only borough that lacks a predominant numbered street grid -- you can not depend on the numbers of the streets to tell you where you are.

Staten Island has four main highways: the Staten Island Expressway (I-278), the West Shore Expressway (NY-440), the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway (also NY-440), and the Korean War Veterans Parkway (unofficially known as the Richmond Parkway). The Staten Island Expressway runs east-west, from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the Goethals Bridge. The West Shore expressway runs south from the Staten Island Expressway in the northwest portion of the island to the Outerbridge Crossing in Tottenville. The Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway runs north from just east of the SIE's junction with the West Shore to the Bayonne Bridge. The Korean War Veterans Expressway branches off from the West Shore Expressway just north of the Outerbridge and runs northeast all the way to Eltingville.

Compared to the neatly-organized grid of Manhattan, the layout of Staten Island's streets may seem like a child's drawings. On the contrary, most streets run in a simple pattern. The biggest streets run east-west (parallel to the northern shore), north-south (parallel to the western shore), and northeast-southwest (parallel to the eastern and southern shores). This creates the effect of a triangle. If you know the main roads that form each side of the triangle, you won't get lost.

Districts

Staten Island has numerous neighborhoods, each with a distinct feel and different attractions. These neighborhoods can be grouped into three regions: North Shore, Mid-Island, and South Shore. The North Shore includes the area north of the Staten Island Expressway. The South Shore generally includes the area south of the Fresh Kills. The Mid-Island takes up the area in-between.

The North Shore is full of older neighborhoods, which were fully developed long before the rest of Staten Island. Thanks to this, many examples of old architecture can be found here.

The Mid-Island section was largely undeveloped until 1964, the opening of the Verrazano Bridge. The resulting economic boom means that most of the Mid-Island's architecture is from the late 1960s and 1970s.

The South Shore experienced a similar economic boom to the Mid-Island when the Verrazano Bridge opened. However, there are still many parts of the South Shore that are undeveloped, at least compared to the rest of the borough.

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Sights and Activities

As the official "Borough of Parks", Staten Island has a large collection of parks. They range from modest playgrounds to immense expanses of raw nature. All parks operated by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation are open 6AM–1AM, but the Greenbelt is operated by the Greenbelt Conservancy and Gateway is operated by the National Park Service. Parks affiliated with schools are the only exception. These are open from dawn to dusk, and it is generally considered good etiquette to stay out of the park if schoolchildren are playing in it.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Train

Staten Island is the only area of New York not services by the subway.

By Car

Staten Island can be reached by bridge from Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island with Brooklyn, but you will incur a high toll of $11.52 with a New York E-Z Pass users or $17.00 for out-of-state E-Z Pass users and non-E-Z Pass users (westbound to Staten Island only; no toll eastbound).
Bayonne Bridge connects northern Staten Island with Bayonne, New Jersey.
Goethals Bridge connects Elizabeth, New Jersey to mid-western Staten Island.
Outerbridge Crossing connects Perth Amboy, New Jersey and Tottenville, Staten Island.

These last 3 bridges have a $15.00 ($10.50 on Off-Peak times and $12.50 on Peak-times for E-ZPass issued by New York or New Jersey) toll payable only when entering Staten Island, not leaving it. The carpool toll is $6.25 with 3 or more people in a car, payable only with E-Z Pass. The Bayonne Bridge and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge use an All-Electronic Tolling System, meaning that no cash payments are allowed, and without E-Z Pass, your toll will be paid via Tolls-By-Mail.

By Bus

A moderately priced option is to take an express bus from Manhattan to Staten Island. The express buses are especially handy when you are traveling to places on the South Shore, which is the furthest section of Staten Island from the ferry, and has fewer local routes running than the more densely populated North Shore. The $6.50 fare is payable with MetroCard (pay-per-ride only), Express Bus Plus MetroCards or coin change. Dollar bills are not accepted.

Most express buses run solely on weekdays. The X1, X10, and X17 run 7 days a week. The X1 runs 24/7. The wait times for an express bus are about 4–10 minutes during rush hours, 15–30 minutes other times.

There is also the option of taking the S53, S79, or S93 buses from the 86th Street subway station of the R train in Brooklyn. These bus routes cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Staten Island. Since these are considered local bus routes, you can pay for the ride by depositing $2.50 in coins in the farebox or swiping your MetroCard. The S53 serves the North Shore and goes through Port Richmond and West New Brighton. The S79 serves the Mid-Island region and the South Shore. It goes along Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue to get to the Staten Island Mall. The S93 runs rush hours only and goes to the College of Staten Island, serving the neighborhoods near the Staten Island Expressway and Victory Boulevard. From Bayonne, you can take the S89 Limited bus during rush hours from the 34th Street Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station. This bus runs down Richmond Avenue and serves sections of the North Shore, Mid-Island, and South Shore.

By Boat

Staten Island can be reached by passenger ferry from Manhattan. The ferry is the most visually pleasing option for arriving on the island, as it passes by Liberty Island and offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and New York Harbor. The ferry is free and operates 24 hours a day out of Battery Park in Manhattan and St. George Terminal in Staten Island; even during the early morning hours, it never runs less than once every half hour at the half hour. You can see a current schedule on this page. The 25-minute ferry ride is also sometimes a faster trip from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island than a corresponding trip by car or bus. The ferry allows bicycles on the lower decks, where there are usually bike racks.

The St. George Ferry Terminal is also a terminal for the Staten Island Railway and many of Staten Island's local buses.

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Getting Around

The subway doesn't go to Staten Island. The Staten Island Railway is a hybrid of a railroad and a subway line. Fares are the same as a subway ride ($2.75), and it runs 24 hours, at intervals from 15 minutes during weekdays to hourly overnight, synchronized to the ferry schedule. Fares are collected only at St. George Ferry Terminal and Tompkinsville, and include a free transfer to or from the buses or subway in Manhattan. During rush hours, express service is provided and the locals terminate at Great Kills.

Bus routes cover the island pretty thoroughly. There are two types of buses:
The local buses run routes all over Staten Island and are distinguished by the S before the route number (ex. S55, S78). They have uncomfortable plastic seats and cost $2.50. During rush hours, some buses run Limited and stop at major cross streets and transfer points. For example, the S62 starts at Jewett Avenue, making all stops east, while the S92 makes all stops west of Jewett Avenue that the S62 normally makes, while stopping only at major streets like Clove Road east of Jewett Avenue. Limited route numbers are always in the 80s and 90s, and the numbers of the local and limited routes usually correspond (S62/S92, S46/S96).
Many local buses terminate at the St. George Ferry Terminal. These can be grouped according to their service area:

North Shore: S40 series (S40, S42, S44, S46, S48).
East Shore: S50s series (S51, S52).
Victory Boulevard: S60s series (S61, S62, S66).
South Shore: S70s series (S74, S76, S78).
Limited routes: S80s and S90s series (S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96, S98).

However, other routes on Staten Island that do not depart from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal do not necessarily follow the same rule. These are the S53, S54, S55, S56, S57, S59, S79, S89, and S93.The express buses are distinguished by the X in the coded display on the front of the bus (ex. X1, X17). These buses run from Staten Island to Manhattan, have more comfortable cloth seats, and cost $6.

Most bus routes on the island meet up at the St. George Ferry Terminal. Other major transfer points include Port Richmond, with some buses terminating at Richmond Terrace at Port Richmond Avenue; the Staten Island Mall; and the Eltingville Transit Center on the South Shore.

Fares can be paid in quarters or dollar coins (if you can find them). You can also use a MetroCard (good for all public transportation in NYC), available at some delis or at the machines at the ferry terminal. Buses run close to schedule, but service on Staten Island is sparse outside of rush hours, and even during peak hours, the most frequent headway is 10 minutes. Because of this, it helps to be prepared: either pick up a schedule for routes that you'll plan to take, check the Guide-A-Ride boxes at bus stops for exact times or use the MTA's BusTime system to track buses.

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Eat

While the vast majority of Staten Island eateries are Italian, there are some gems of ethnic cuisine in the St. George and Tompkinsville neighborhoods. Mostly within a mile of each other on Victory Blvd (and in walking distance from the ferry terminal), the authentic and inexpensive restaurants serve up flavorful South Asian cuisine well worth the trip.

120 Bay Cafe (formerly Cargo Cafe), 120 Bay St, ☏ +1 718 273-7770. Laid back eatery. Cool decor. Excellent appetizers and burgers. Great beers on tap. Entertainment weekly!
Bay House Bistro, 574 Bay St (Staten Island Railway to Stapleton, S51 or S76 bus to Prospect Street (bus ramp B)). One of the best Asian take outs going. Focus on the appetizers, heavily influenced by Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly Malaysian. Try the roti canai or the curry veggie pies.
Tuttoriso is a nice little hip cafe across the street and east of the ferry landing at 36 Richmond Terrace making it a good place to spend some time before taking the ferry back to Manhattan. The major selling point of all the great food is that the food is a hundred percent gluten free at an extremely reasonable price.
Denino's Pizzeria & Tavern, 524 Port Richmond Ave, ☏ +1 718 442-9401. It is reasonably priced and has tasty dishes besides pizza.
Gennaro's, 413 New Dorp Ln (S76/86 to Hylan Boulevard), ☏ +1 718 979-2382. Su–Th 11AM-10PM; F Sa 11AM-1AM. While it is overshadowed by the hordes of fancier pizza parlors on the island, Gennaro's is perfect if you're looking for a cheap slice the whole family can enjoy.
Goodfella's, 1817 Victory Blvd (S61/S91 S62/S92 S66 from Bus Ramp A to Manor Road, X12/X42 express buses from Manhattan to Manor Road, S93 bus from Bay Ridge to Manor Road). Famous for their vodka pizza, the recipient of several awards.
Joe And Pat's, 1758 Victory Blvd (S61/S91 S62/S92 S66 from Bus Ramp A to Manor Road, X12/X42 express buses from Manhattan to Manor Road, S93 bus from Bay Ridge to Manor Road), ☏ +1 718 981-0887. Specializes in an extraordinarily thin pizza that is one of the best slices in the city. Uniquely thin without too much cheese, Joe and Pat's slices are some of the lightest in the city. Try the eggplant fries.
Pizzeria Giove, 278 New Dorp Ln (S76/86 to Clawson Avenue), ☏ +1 347 286-0635. M Tu 10:30AM-10:30PM, W 10:30AM-10:30PM, Th 10:30AM-10:30PM, F 10:30AM-11:30PM, Sa 10:30AM-11:30PM, Su noon-10:30PM. A small pizzeria known for its authentically Italian thin crust pizza. Unlike New York pizza, it is cooked in a wood-fired oven. It has been featured on the TV show Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
Ralph's Itailan Ices, 501 Port Richmond Ave (S44/94 or S59 to Walker Street). The original store of the successful chain of stores serving light, refreshing ices. The chain has numerous other locations in the New York Metro, including a handful in other Staten Island neighborhoods. They are in New Dorp, Great Kills, Eltingville, Huguenot, and Pleasant Plains. The full list can be found here.
Taqueria Gallo Azteca, 75 Victory Blvd, ☏ +1 718 273-6404. The cemitas are to die for, a sandwich with your choice of meat, with avocado, chipotle peppers, quesillo, and beans. One of the best sandwiches you'll ever have.
Burrito Bar, 585 Forest Ave (S48 to Pelton Ave Stop), ☏ +1 718 815-9200. Fun Tex-Mex restaurant with generous portions, bar is on the lower level, and restaurant is upstairs.
Beso, 11 Schuyler St (Leave the ferry terminal, cross the street, make a right, left on Schuyler). Spanish restaurant with live music occasionally. Tapas and sangria bring some much needed class to the neighborhood. A short walk from the ferry and a great place to eat.
Real Madrid, 2073 Forest Ave (S48/S98 to Union Avenue (Bus Ramp B), X12/X42 or X30 express buses from Manhattan to Union Avenue), ☏ +1 718 447-7885. A restaurant with authentic Spanish food.
Spain Restaurant, 502 Jewett Ave (S48/S98 to Jewett Avenue (Bus Ramp B), X14 or X30 express buses from Manhattan to Jewett Avenue), ☏ +1 718 816-8237. A Spanish restaurant.
Lakshmis's Restaurant, 324 Victory Blvd (Victory Blvd & Cebra). Mainly a take-out establishment but has a few chairs and tables. The menu is comprehensive, offering Homemade Roast (Ros) Paan, Achchu Paan, Kimbula Paan, Malu Paan, Malu Roti, Elawalu Roti, Kalu Thothol, and other Sri Lanka delicacies. Take the S61, S62, or S66 to Cebra Avenue (from Bus Ramp A).
Lakruwana, 226 Bay St. One of the more elegant eateries. Its fine decor and delicious meals belie the outrageously inexpensive prices. Sundays offer a lunch and dinner buffet.
New Asha Restaurant, 322 Victory Blvd (next door to Lakruwana). Offers many of the same items at competitive prices. Has been named #1 by the Village Voice Cheap Eats in the past. Featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Try a mutton roll! There are several Sri Lankan groceries that dot the street on the 15-20 minute walk from the ferry.

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Drink

St. George has a few bars located south of the ferry terminal. Make a left when you leave the boat. Look for live music at the Cargo Cafe or Karl's Klipper, both located on Bay Street with phenomenal views of the Verrazano Bridge.

Nurnberger Bierhaus, 817 Castleton Ave (S46 to Davis Avenue (Bus Ramp B)). Offers a wide variety of imported German beers and well-prepared, authentic German food. There is an outside beer garden that offers a limited menu, open in seasonable weather. Beers are served in liter steins and the food is as good as any you will find in Germany.

There is beer on the Staten Island Ferry. It is cheap (by NYC standards). A 16-ounce can of Bud or Miller will cost $3.50.

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Sleep

Staten Island is the closest borough to New Jersey's Newark International Airport. This results in lower taxi fares and shorter travel times as opposed to Manhattan (the taxi fare is $45 to any point in Staten Island plus up to $10 in tolls). You may want to consider sleeping in a hotel here for this reason.

Comfort Inn Staten Island, 310 Wild Ave, ☏ +1 718 370-8555, ✉ sales@mrhotelgroup.com. Straightforward hotel. $.
Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave (S46/96 to South Avenue & Lois Lane).
Holiday Inn Express, 300 Wild Ave (Take the Staten Island Expressway to the West Shore Expressway (Exit 5). Get off at Victory Blvd (Exit 7)), ☏ +1 718 276-8689. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM.

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Safety

When discussing crime in Staten Island, it first must be established that Staten Island is not a crime-ridden mob haven, as it is portrayed in movies and reality TV. Staten Island is no more dangerous than any of the other boroughs of New York City. However, it does have some crime.

The northern and southern portions of Staten Island are pretty different in the amount of crime and the type of crime found there.

The North Shore has a somewhat elevated crime rate compared to the rest of the Island. It is home to large low-income housing projects. This attracts a lot of both petty crime and more serious crimes. Be careful when walking alone at night.

Once you get below the Staten Island Expressway, however, the situation changes. The South Shore has a relatively low crime rate. Residents often joke about it, saying that the local burglars are nice enough to wait until your car is unlocked to rob it.

Travelers to the South Shore with seasonal allergies may be better-advised to worry about high pollen counts during the spring. There are dozens of trees on most South Shore streets (so many you may not believe you're still in New York City). If you have severe allergies, consider addressing the problem before coming to Staten Island in April or May.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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as well as Lavafalls (3%)

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This is version 10. Last edited at 13:42 on Sep 20, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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