Richmond County (Staten Island), New York

Monday, April 26, 2010 - 11:38 AM

Your Anecdotal Census: A People's History of the New York City Area 2000-2010

Tell us about change that matters in your community. Here are some possible questions to answer. Add your story to the comments below!

How is your community different today than it was 10 years ago?

Who's moving in and who's moving out? 

How has the housing boom/housing bust changed your community?

How have the politics of your community changed? If power has shifted in your community, how and why?

How has 9/11 changed your community? 

Do you have a story about change in your own life over the last decade that you think represents a larger trend?

What's an untold story of change in your community that needs to be told? 

Dante's Take

As part of the Patchwork Nation project, Dante Chinni has been exploring demographic trends around the country. He tells us what to watch for in Richmond County...

→ Visit the Richmond County page on Patchwork Nation for lots more!

By The Numbers:

What story do you think this data tells? Do you think the data reflects what's really going on in your community?

Richmond County (Staten Island), New York 1980 1990 2000 2008/2009
Total Population 352,121 378,977 443,729 491,730
Median Household Income (2008 adjusted dollars) $63,000 $76,200 $71,100 $72,557
% Foreign Born 9.8% 11.8% 16.4% 21.0%
% Under 18 Years Old 29.1% 24.8% 25.5% 23.4%


Explore the Maps:

Richmond County, New York - Median Household Income (2007) - Go to the Interactive Maps on Social Explorer


More Resources:

US Census Bureau QuickFacts

Social Explorer

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Comments [30]

SI native from Nyc

I grew up in a mixed neighborhood in the late 70s. Staten Island has ties to agriculture from years ago, so many of the natives still retain that simpler way of thinking and living. It's just different. It's not cosmopolitan. Never was. There are some racist people, but most don't care/pay attention to anything that doesn't directly impact them. In fact some of the oldest African American settlements were on SI. There are native African Americans that go back almost 200 years. There are still dutch and Swedish from long ago. What islanders don't like is crime: be it mafia, drug or gang related. Fiddle faddle and nonsense annoy all of us that are from hard working families. Islanders are still upset over the "temporary landfill", the bridge that brought over the mob, gang violence and overcrowding because of all these ugly townhouses that keep getting built. SI does have great food and nice old houses. That's about it.

May. 27 2012 10:29 PM
Debbie Nathan from A Bensonhurst visitor

In 1989 a young, African-American man named Yusuf Hawkins went to Bensonhurst to buy a used car. At that time, not only were virtually no blacks living in Bensonhurst, but for a black to even visit invited vicious attack. Hawkins was attacked by neighborhood whites and killed and no one was surprised. The neighborhood was known as a militantly white enclave.

That changed as Italians, the long time major ethnic group, started moving out in the 1980s. The 2000 census listed a lot of different nationalities including Latinos. But still no blacks.

Today blacks are living in Bensonhurst! And not just West Indians but African Americans who've moved from historically black Brooklyn nabes, including the little enclave south of Cropsey Avenue, where black men generations ago were jockeys at racetracks around Coney Island.

Around 81st St. and 18th Avenue in BH now some buildings have substantial black populations. They started coming around 2002.

And everyone seems to be getting along fine. A historic change!

Jul. 19 2010 10:42 AM
HB from North Shore

I have lived in Brooklyn Heights and Forest Hills before moving to the north shore on a temporary basis. It is surprising to hear others complain that the borough is too crowded as I've seen far more densely populated areas in some of the other boroughs. I suppose from a surburban perspective that may be true. Given my fairly recent experience from living in other boroughs and having made some comparisons, I have decided to move off SI in the near future. As I am tired of having to drive everywhere. The lack of gourmet supermarkets, (I'll stay if Trader Joe comes here!) and the mediocre dining scene in the north shore, if not the rest of the island, are just less than than ideal in the long run. I find most people here, as another post pointedout , all have families here. So I'd be curious to know if it wasn't for work or family, how many people would actively consider SI as a place to live and why. The north shore does have lots of potential and I do enjoy the abundance of greens and the rolling hills. But sadly I just do not have the time to wait for the borough's transformation and to offer what others boroughs have to offer now.

Jul. 13 2010 09:42 PM
Kristi from West Brighton

What has changed, or is in the process of slowly changing, is the perception of Staten Island throughout the city. Ignorance was often a factor (many people opining without ever having visited), due to news stories over the years focusing solely on the landfill or a racial incident. Word is out that Staten Island is more diverse and can offer a unique and positive NYC living experience (cool old homes, arts scene, tree lined streets, friendly neighbors) for those willing to take a chance and not follow the pack to Brooklyn.

Jul. 06 2010 12:00 PM

I work in Staten Island and it seems like everyone here knows one another (and grew up together). What percentage of people who grew up in SI stay here and raise their families here?

Jul. 06 2010 11:32 AM

in middle school i was told that i should go into the program for minorities in the high school i was bound to attend. the counselor told me i would "be with more people your kind there". Racism is king in Staten Island. The quality of education offered in staten island is not very good compared to schools my friends attended in new jersey. College of Staten Island was the worst college i attended. (i have been to hunter, baruch and CSI).

Jul. 06 2010 11:29 AM
Mary from Eltingville

Reviewing the questions posed above two things do come to mind: 9/11 did change so much for so many on this densely populated borough, and, in terms of political power shifting, two words: Vito Fossella. It may have taken a drunk driving/alternate family story to take down a Republican congressman, but it did and now we have a Democratic representative. The GOP is in a shambles now.

Jul. 05 2010 10:47 PM
Randell Bence from Snug Harbor, Staten Island

Totally agree with the comments above about how special the North Shore of Staten Island is. Moved here from Oklahoma and my neighborhood surrounding Snug Harbor Cultural Center is more like an old-fashion neighborhood than any I have known in the Midwest. Besides, Snug Harbor, the treasures are the Staten Island Yankees, the tree-lined streets of historical houses, Underground Railroad sites, and the community group, Staten Island Out Loud. If thou is looking for the white whale, you will find him with the group here as well. Each year over 200 citizens of our neighborhood gather high above the NY harbor at Fort Wadsworth (another hidden gem) for a communal, neighborly reading of Melville's Moby Dick. To hear his powerful wordson the goat path where Melville walked many times is priceless. Come see and hear it.

Jul. 05 2010 05:30 PM
Elke from formerly Tompkinsville

I lived in SI from 1989-2005. I go back to visit frequently. In my neighborhood, Tompkinsville, the 2 biggest changes I see in the past decade are:
The ethnic mix. I have witnessed several waves of immigration in the neighborhood. When I first moved there it seemed most immigrants were Russian. Then Sri Lankan. Then African. The current wave is Mexican. The North Shore is stunningly diverse!

The other change is the blossoming of the arts. Over the years Snug Harbor has continued to grow. There are several new galleries on the North Shore. The ETG bookcafe has functioned as a grassroots community arts center. Having a couple of excellent thrift stores in the area helps to attract a hipper crowd, too.

Jul. 05 2010 10:47 AM
Kathleen Galvez

I, from the midwest, and my husband, born in Ecuador, moved to Staten Island in the late sixties. For proximity to the ferry and my husband's job on Wall Street, we chose St. George/New Brighton on the North Shore of Staten Island, a community then in distress,with empty housing caused by white flight following the construction of public housing. We were told that if we hadn't purchased our house, it was going to become a rooming house. And, indeed, the neighborhood had some difficult years; however, the area arose from those ashes to become an amazing place: a population that is diverse economically, ethnically and racially with some pretty amazing housing, some landmarked. Persons in the arts are particularly attracted to it. For a long time, rather than recognition and praise for this diversity, the North Shore was simply ignored: off the radar screen. The Staten Island expressway was crudely referred to as the Mason Dixon Line. But that is the major change I have observed. I have heard public praise for what distinguishes the North Shore, and the S.I. Advance now has special sections by community and the North Shore's special assets are focused upon. Drawing those from the arts as it does, these individuals have also introduced special programs and activities which thrive particularly there: an example is one already mentioned, SIOut LOUD on whose board I serve: it is a not for profit that sponsors gatherings for people to read aloud from selected historic and literary works from different cultural traditions. It's amazing to see strangers join to together to read aloud, e.g. the Declaration of Independence, or Moby Dick.

Jul. 05 2010 10:44 AM
Mary from St. George

Since moving to Staten Island in 2000 I've learned a lot about a borough I hardly knew before. While it has its own set of quirks and problems, like any part of NY, it also has many things I've come to appreciate - the Greenbelt, beautiful historic neighborhoods like St. George. which I am fortunate enough to live in, good eats and wonderful neighbors. I have seen the arts scene expand with more galleries opening in the past few years. I'm also a great admirer of SI OUTLOUD, the way that Beth Gorrie has been able to combine arts and community building with her love of literature has been an inspiration for me.

Jul. 05 2010 08:28 AM
Stephanie from St. George

I moved here 10 years ago to have a house and garden, which is an incredibly luxury in NYC. It's always surprising that more city dwellers don't flock out here, but Staten Island is a mixed bag. Like others, I lament the beautiful old houses with land torn down for ugly new townhouses without yards. I often feel quite isolated living in a place where people, out of fear and ignorance, protest against a mosque being built instead of protesting the costly illegal and immoral wars that are destroying this country. On the other hand, there is good work by SI Peace Action, and rich, diverse culture in the poetry readings of SI OutLoud. Oases can be found in the Chinese Scholar Garden at Snug Harbour and in the westward walk along the water from the ferry, past the 9/11 Memorial.

Jul. 04 2010 11:05 PM
Marjorie Ramos from Great Kills

I've been in SI for almost 8 yrs now. I like how SI has changed in its diversity make up. An example has been my participation at the SI Outloud events. My first experience was in a small room in Richmondtown - a handful of women reading a historical document. Most recently, however, the attendance was at about 80, at Ft Wadsworth and there were young, old, new to the island, oldtimers, immigrants, varied cultures, etc. It was lovely to experience this change and to be enriched by this intellectual yet fun exchange with others.

Jul. 04 2010 09:02 PM
T.S. from east shore

My family moved here in 1970. In retrospect we were in a way red-lined. On our block were two other Asian families and a couple of a mixed Hispanic/whit couple. I went to the local intermediate schools where there were only 4 other Chinese, 1 mixed race student, and 1 Indian student whom the teacher kept calling Sandy, though his name was Sanjay. Random people, kids and teenagers would yell at me on the streets "why don't you go back where you came from!", and pass other comments, usually of the "Ching -chong-ching-chong" variety. Eventually I left the school and took the long trip into Manhattan for school, and then to Brooklyn for high school. And even then I recall people still randomly yelling at me. Now it's July 4th 2010. It occasionally still happens, kids and teenagers. But I see now Staten Island has it's own Chinese school, and there are Asian faces at my bus stop, including parents with children my age when I moved here. Some of the local stores are owned by people of color. It seems our little block was an outpost of change coming to this part of Staten Island. But yet, after all these years, I am still a bit uneasy walking to my local stores through the neighborhood. But I will also say back in 1970 there were acts of kindness an humanity as well. I remember a fellow student Mike R. who was all-American-boy as you could get, and a girl on the bus whom I never turned around to look at nor thank who defended me from an act of teenage cruelty that children often enact against someone who looked different from them. But change comes to this corner of NY as surely as change itself comes to everywhere, and here only to the better.

Jul. 04 2010 04:21 PM
Serena Chin from St. George, SI

I'm a St. George resident and I moved from the UWS to Bklyn Hts to Staten Island about 10 years ago. Positive changes that I've seen this past decade living here is certainly the renovation of the SI ferry terminal on both sides. It's much more modern, brighter, cleaner and there are more food stores to choose while you wait or grab and go. Also the ethnic restaurants that have sprouted on Victory Blvd and Bay Street over the years is a big plus. The best Sri Lankan restaurants in NYC are just 10 minutes away from where I live and they're so reasonably priced too. My favourites are Dosai Garden and San Rasa. Last but not least are some of the people I've known living here who make a difference in our neighborhoods and just a pleasure to have as a neighbor. Beth Gorrie, founder of SI Outloud, whom I first met at a local event who introduced many secrets of SI that I never knew about is one person and fellow neighbor that comes to mind. Her tireless energy extends to her Outloud readings and performances at various public spaces all over the island involving groups of people from all ages who appreciate the natural, cultural and literary interaction.

Jul. 04 2010 01:32 PM
Taylor Jones from Snug Harbor, Staten Island

We moved to the Snug Harbor neighborhood eight years ago, and our daughters attend public school. When our oldest daughter was at the bus stop for her local elementary school, there was one Latino child among a crowd of twenty children. This past year, with our youngest daughter in the fourth grade, there were again about 20 children at the bus stop. At least 13 of them were Latino. Their mothers are all foreign born, from Mexico and perhaps Ecuador as well. The school has growing numbers of Sri Lankans and Liberians, in addition to hispanics.

Oh -- for any listeners who might be concerned about hispanic immigrants turning the U.S. into a -- gasp! -- bi-lingual country, don't worry: While the Latina mothers at our bus stop speak to their children in Spanish, the children ONLY respond in English.

Jul. 04 2010 10:37 AM
Al from Travis

The arts community on Staten Island has grown exponentially during the past 10 years. Much of the credit for this goes to Laura Jean Watters, who served for many years at the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island. She laid the foundation for future growth through her hard work, vision and kindness. Without pretense, without seeking personal credit, she sowed the seeds.

Jul. 04 2010 09:38 AM
Alan from Silver Lake Staten Island

I have seen the live classical music scene grow, allowing people of our diverse community regular access and participation. Staten Island based groups like The Richmond County Orchestra, which has performed at the Guggenheim, the Riverside Opera Company and the New American Youth Ballet, perform regularly at St Johns University and Snug Harbor, offering world class performances at a very low ticket prices. It's like having a bit of Lincoln Center on Staten Island!

Jul. 04 2010 02:39 AM
Eve from Silver Lake

My first reaction was "Hey, nothing's changed in 10 years," then I realized that since 9/11 many of my friends have left Staten Island.
My husband and I are not native Staten Islanders and neither are most of our friends. In the first two years after 9/11 five of the families we were closest to left the area and moved to other parts of the country. Another family sent their children back to Brazil to live with extended family, but the parents stayed here for business reasons.

Jul. 03 2010 10:12 PM
Ted from Staten Island (Clove Lakes area, more generally N. Shore)

My first thought about what has changed in Staten Island in 10 years is “NOTHING.” But as I think about it, the island has seen some changes, some good, some not so good. I’ll temper this with the caveat that the viewpoint of any one of us that lives here is certainly limited by our own circumstances. For example, my own view is affected by my move from Rosebank to Clove Lakes. But here are a few things that come to mind.
(1) More people: more cars, more crowding on buses and the ferry, more bicycles, longer lines at the market, more competition for vacant apartments.
(2) Growth in the arts community: Completion of restoration of St. George Theatre and the Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Appearance and growth of organizations such as Staten Island OutLOUD.
(3) More diversity: more Russians, certainly, as well as other folks of eastern European roots; more African Americans.

Jul. 03 2010 04:10 PM
LP from south shore

If you go into Sears any time of the day or night, most of the groups of shoppers will be speaking a language other than English. This is fascinating and not unwelcome. If SI has changed for the worse, it is, and will be, because of people who lack character and respect for one another, not because they are ethnically diverse. I have watched loud, rude, unstable people bring down a neighborhood and its local schools; and there are plenty of all kinds that fit that description on SI. Fortunately there are still a core of people who know how to live peaceably who are keeping it possible to remain here.

Jul. 03 2010 03:22 PM
Mary Brown from Grant City

Two changes. One has crept up slowly. Over the years the traffic has grown to the point that my commute to one of my jobs, which involves a walk up Todt Hill, is a real adventure. The other is a combination of a long-term and a sudden change. The 2008 crash hit local small businesses and nonprofits hard, and it may have hit Italian businesses even harder because it's combining with the natural erosion of the customer base. One local pasticceria closed within weeks of the crash, and now our longtime salumeria has closed due to a lack of business. I don't want to discount the diversity provided by recent immigrants, but we're also losing a bit of our diversity, too, as the old immigrant community passes.

Jul. 03 2010 12:13 AM
Swans SI from Grant City/ New Dorp

I moved to this island almost 40 years ago. At that time the Mall had just about opened, there were no Express buses to speak of, and many native islanders talked about life "pre-bridge". Since then, many of my older neighbors have moved on to retirement in NJ, PA and Florida. My east shore neighborhood is becoming more ethinically diverse with many Eastern Europens and second-generation Russian Americans moving form my old home borough of Brooklyn. This has changed the face and flavor of the community. The schools are more diverse, but still are very parochical in feeling. New stores, restaurants and buisness have sprung up; that is a good thing. The two BIG problems are a crumbling infrastructure and terrible traffic problems. It is still a nice place to be and have a family, our daughter and her husband brought a home here on the North Shore where our first grandchild is being raised.
One unusuall thing is that ten years ago both my husband and I worked makeing about the same salary. Now he is retired, I am not, and I now am the primary wage earner. That is one thing I never thought I would be. Also, our son-in-law is currently completing his college course work full time and is a stay at home Dad. So in both my daughter and my case, the women are the primary wage earned.

Jul. 02 2010 12:26 PM
Barbara Fisher from North Shore:Stapleton, St. George, Silver Lake

When we moved to Stapleton from Greenwich Village in 1989 there were few Black and bi-racial families renting homes or apartments here. In 2010 every block in Stapleton is populated by Black homeowners. As another writer mentioned, the Mexican population has increased and shop at the Greenmarket we now have in St. George. There are more persons of all ethnicities and age using food stamps and vouchers at Greenmarket than in the past; typical of a depressed economy we're seeing more dogs being abandoned at Silver Lake Park where we have the dog run.

Jul. 02 2010 12:21 PM
Jenna from staten island

As mentioned above, there is an increased international mix here on the island. While this has brought about many new restaurants and communities, however, sadly, there is still a great degree of racism and segregation in Staten Island, and this is the untold story. Some people are outright racist, and some are more subtle, but it is always present. To this day you could literally draw lines on a map as to what race lives in what section of Staten Island, and there is rarely any overlapping or transition. In my largely white middle class neighborhood, people will still shut their doors and close the windows if they see someone of another race walk down the street. It's really sad, and largely unspoken of. But very very common. And I actually think lack of integration between black and white here is more extreme than in most other boroughs.
I would love to see this change, to see a better integration of racial groups, to see more open minds, to hear people speaking nicely of other races, and I hope this will be the case in the future.

May. 25 2010 03:08 PM
Aida from Grymes Hill

I came from Brooklyn to Staten Island almost 40 years ago. That makes me a before-the-bridge-transplant, rather than a Staten Islander, according to the "true natives". The fact that that no longer matters is a measure of the changes on the Island. Natives are moving to New Jersey or Florida and Staten Island is becoming more diverse. The diversity is wonderful because it brings art, and a variety of food choices.
The most significant negative difference is that Staten Island is becoming more dense. Where there was one house, 5 new one are built in its place. In an apt where 1 family lived, now there are rooms being rented. Staten Island is too crowded.

May. 18 2010 12:00 PM
Paul from Castleton corners

Big demographic changes. Ten years ago, homeowners cut their own grass, but it's become cheaper to hire Mexicans. They started as lawn help and expanded to many of the building and service trades. Also Russian speakers (don't know from which republic)are entering the trades. Korean owned small businesses have revitalized some retail strips. And the orthodox Jewish community has appeared to grow significantly. Meanwhile, the 'red-wine' district in the south and the firemen's ghetto in the north are losing strenght.

May. 18 2010 12:05 AM
Liz Wheeler from Staten Island

I grew up on SI and have seen it go from lots of farm land to lots of poorly designed housing complexes. One of the many things that are happening today that make me so sad is the tearing down of fine older homes and the subsequent building of far too many town homes in the same spot with absolutely no property left untouched so a kid could have a yard to play in. There are a few untouched spots on the island and I occassionally drive by them just to get the feel for my home as it used to be. The other big change is due the housing - TRAFFIC!!!!! I work on SI and the office I work from 2 days of the week was about 15 minutes from where I now live. Now, in 2010, it takes no less than 30 minutes and frequently takes 40 to 45 minutes to get home. What makes this even harder is the rudeness of the drivers.
I love the diversity on SI, which is new from when I was a kid. In fact, I never really interacted with anyone with brown skin until I was about 14 yo. That could never happen today. There is a very large Mexican/Hispanic community now that wasn't here even 5 years ago. There is also a large Russian/Lithuanian/Albanian community.
As much as I love "my" SI - the older, larger homes with real backyards, I am, for the first time in my life, considering permanent relocation. Wilmington, NC is looking mighty good.

May. 06 2010 04:16 PM
Warrick from Bull's Head

Interacting with city demographers in regard to SI is frustrating, to say the least. The island's small population relative to the rest of the city means that many normal lenses don't see the huge changes in populations that have occurred here. Large numbers of immigrants from Albania, Russia, Liberia and Mexico go unobserved, except by those who live amongst them. Around ten years ago, it wasn't uncommon to hear "locals" complaining -- usually in Italian -- about all the new "foreigners" who refused to learn English and were destroying the island. You do still hear that, but many of the complainers have fled and you now also hear Spanish, Russian, Mixteco and Hebrew spoken openly. Public libraries carry Russian and Mandarin films and books. Endless, terrible pizza restaurants are being replaced by taquerias. It's a slow process, and can be contentious as groups wrestle for resources and space, but I don't see any real downside.

May. 06 2010 02:33 PM
DB Lampman from Stapleton, Staten Island

Staten Island often gets a bad rap and is fairly neglected as far as boroughs go. One of the things that people might not realize is that there is a very vibrant and active art scene that has really mobilized as an economic force over the last several years. Artists have developed events such as Second Saturdays and Art by the Ferry that have grown and command huge audiences. We're not Williamsburg, and we don't want to be, but the renegade energy that SI artists have to create and display art that is not dependent on an art establishment is exciting to be a part of.

May. 04 2010 02:51 PM

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