One of New York City’s five boroughs, Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and by the rest of New York by New York Bay. It is the city’s third largest, but least populated borough. It was known as the Borough of Richmond until 1975, when it became Staten Island. It is the only borough that is not connected to the New York City subway system. There is, however, a ferry connecting it to Manhattan, and many tourists enjoy the scenic journey.
The Staten Island flag has a white background with a seal, designed in the shape of an oval, in its centre. Within the seal, blue with a black and white seagull within it, symbolises the borough’s skyline. The flag also has a green outline that represents the countryside, and white that denotes its residential areas. Staten Island is written in gold, with five wavy blue lines below the inscription that symbolise the water surrounding it. The entire flag is outlined with a gold fringe.
Staten Island played a major part during the American Revolutionary War. It was used as a strategic staging ground for an anticipated British attack in 1776. After 140 British ships arrived in the summer of that year, the representatives of their government were given notification of the Declaration of Independence. On August 22, 1777, The Battle of Staten Island took place and, even though it was inconclusive, the America troops eventually withdrew. British forces remained on Staten Island throughout the war, causing most patriots to flee. The British army used Staten Island as a staging ground for the final evacuation of New York City on December 5, 1783.
The towns of Staten Island were dissolved in 1898 after the Greater City of New York was formed, and Richmond County became one of its boroughs. The construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, along with three other Staten Island bridges, created a new commuting route from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Manhattan. The bridges’ network highways demolished much of the remaining old neighbourhoods in the Borough, and opened it up to commercial and residential development. This caused the population of Staten Island to double, between the years of 1960 and 2000, from 221,000 to 443,000.
In the 1980s, a movement was raised to secede from the city and in 1993 a referendum was signed by 65% of the island’s population. The State Assembly refused to approve its implementation, however, and Staten Island was forced to remain one of the city’s boroughs.
The Staten Island Renaissance is scheduled to take place from 2017-2019 and consists of a $1.5 billion investment for construction in St. George and Stapleton. The development will consist of luxury waterfront apartments, famous restaurants, a 5 star hotel, 100s of new stores and the world’s largest ferris wheel, New York Wheel, which will be 60 stories high. Construction has already begun, and the residents eagerly await completion and the economic expansion that this is guaranteed to facilitate.