A scenic walk to Snug Harbor Cultural Center

History of Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Snug Harbor Cultural Center was erected as an Asylum or hospital for retired merchant sailors. It was to be called the Sailors Snug Harbor. This was in the will of Captain Robert Richard Randall. The will was drafted by Alexander Hamilton. The Captain had purchased the Elliot Estate in Greenwich Village (between 4th & 5th Street & Waverly Place and Ninth Avenue). His heirs, the children of his half-brother, went to court for many years and the Sailor’s Snug Harbor did win the case. The Trustees of the Sailor’s Snug Harbor bought 160 acre acre complex in Staten Island for $16,000.00. This was the first charitable organization in the United States and it is still in existence.

Background on the North Shore of Staten Island

This walk is in the North Shore area of Staten Island. It comprises fifteen neighborhoods. The North Shore is the oldest part of Staten Island. It also has some of the most interesting sites to visit in this borough. In this area there are two NYC Historical District–St. George/New Brighton Historic District and St. Paul’s Avenue-Stapleton Heights Historic District. This walk goes from the St. George Ferry to Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Our walk is a small section of a very large area.

The history of St. George

Cornelius Vanderbilt renamed the area St. George as a concession to George Law, for this was his land and Vanderbilt needed it for the Staten Island Railway.

A ferry arriving at the Staten Island ferry terminal

St. George Ferry Terminal

The terminal is the bedrock of the new construction around it. It normally runs every half hour during daytime.

The ferry terminal opened in 1886. There was a fire in 1946 that burned the wooden structures and rail terminals. In 1951 the city built a new terminal and in 2018 it was renovated by Hellmuth Obata + Kassebaum.

The Empire Outlets building as it was being built and almost finished

Empire Outlets

This is the first outlet mall complex in New York City. It is a few steps away from St. George Terminal. It is called Harbor Commons. They plan to have 100 designer outlets.

The mascots of the Minor League Yankees in Staten Island

Richmond County Bank Ballpark – Minor League Yankees

It opened to the public in 2001. This is the home of the Yankee minor league team. Did you know that in 1880’s the parking lot of this park was a site of the Major League Baseball, it was the NY Metropolitans.

The 9/11 Memorial for Staten Islanders. The wings are perfectly aligned to where the twin towers had been.

The SI September 11 Memorial (the Postcards)

This is one of the most moving memorials to 9/11. The wings perfectly lines up to the location of the twin towers. Within these wings are images of the Staten Island residents who were lost on 9/11/2001. The marble images of Staten Islanders was based on pictures submitted by family members. It is definitely a must see site.

The entrance at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

The story of Snug Harbor Cultural Center is very interesting. The millionaires in our past believed in helping their fellow citizens. Many gave back to the public whether it was Andrew Carnegie with our libraries or John D. Rockefeller who bought and donated lands to the public. Capt. Robert Randall was also one of these men. His will had a provision to create a hospital/asylum for retired merchant seamen. By 1976 the Sailors Snug Harbor had decided to move to North Carolina. There were two sailors who did not want to leave. The city bought and decided to open it up as a cultural center.

Capt. Robert Randall's sculpture at the entrance at Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Sculpture by Augusutus Saint-Gaudens

Capt. Robert Randall

Sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1884

The Staten Island Botanical Glasshouse at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

Staten Island Botanical Garden

The Staten Island Botanical Glasshouse was built on the spot of the old greenhouse. It is named after Carl Grillo, who lived in Dongan Hills and was the secretary and executive director of the Liberal Party of New York State.

The outside of the Staten Island Museum, Gothic columns at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

Staten Island Museum

The Staten Island Museum is an impressive museum for the people in Staten Island. The first time I visited it, it was located on Stuyvesant Place, but it has moved to Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The old location is now their research library and the new location is larger and more impressive in the repurposed building.

The NY Chinese scholar garden, view of the hall and the lake at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

New York Chinese Scholar Garden

The New York Scholar Garden is one of the best wonders in New York City. If you have visited China, going to one of their scholar gardens is a must, some are listed in UNESCO Heritage sites. When you visit the one in Staten Island, it will take your breath away for it looks so much like the ones in China. This is a blog about this garden and the Lingering Garden in China.

View of the Noble house boat/studio that is in the museum at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

The Noble Maritime Collection Museum

The Noble Maritime Collection Museum is one of the best maritime museums I’ve ever visited. It is named after the artist, John A. Noble, who loved the Harbor. He even had a floating studio which is in the museum. Mr. Noble wrote, “Anywhere men work or build on the water is of interest to me…My life’s work is to make a rounded picture of American maritime endeavor of modern times.” When you visit this collection, you do get a sense of the maritime life in the Harbor.