The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, May 26, 2018

New exhibition explores how Staten Island has evolved and shaped the city for over 350 years
Keiber Farm, Westerleigh, Staten Island, ca. 1900. Photo: Courtesy Westerleigh Improvement Society.

NEW YORK, NY.- From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012, an exhibition which opened on September 13 at the Museum of the City of New York, looks at the individuals, communities, institutions, and city agencies that have shaped Staten Island’s development over the past 350 years. Through compelling case studies, the exhibition examines not only the emergence of Richmond County as its own place, but also the Island as a landscape that shaped and was shaped by the larger historical forces of New York City.

Strategically located at the entry to the world’s greatest harbor, Staten Island has served as a breadbasket for New York City; a pleasure ground of estates and sporting grounds, including cricket, tennis, and foxhunting; a refuge for the needy at charitable institutions such as Sailors’ Snug Harbor; a center for early industrial activity at Linoleumville and Factoryville; an international port with ship-building facilities; and a place people call home, from early suburbs to public housing developments. From Farm to City tells these stories through a series of case studies highlighted by historic maps, photographs, and original objects, as well as contemporary photographs by Jeff Liao.

Susan Henshaw Jones, Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum said, “Staten Island’s colorful history makes it a valuable lens through which to view the dynamics of the development of New York City and the larger metropolitan area. This exhibition also encourages visitors to think critically about Staten Island’s future, by shedding light on its fascinating past.”

From Farm to City is organized in four sections – Farms, Pleasure Grounds, Suburbs, and City – based on the major typologies that have shaped land use patterns on Staten Island at various moments in its history. The ever-changing ideas behind these land uses – what they looked like spatially, the needs they addressed, their relationships to one another – are examined.

Farming on Staten Island has generally loomed larger in myth and memory than in reality. The Island’s marshes, its rocky soil, and hilly terrain made land development a challenge. But in the 19th century, Staten Island’s farmers benefited from their proximity to Manhattan’s growing markets, and in turn the food produced in Richmond County became an important part of the regional agricultural infrastructure that allowed New York City to grow and prosper.

By the turn of the 20th century, the number of farms on the Island had grown to nearly 400, even as the land devoted to agriculture was already decreasing. As suburban and urban development proceeded on the Island, the amount of land under cultivation shrank, and the last commercial farm closed its doors in 1979. Today, this agricultural tradition continues on farms that explicitly recall the Island’s agricultural past, such as Historic Richmond Town’s Decker Farm, Clay Pit Pond’s Gericke Farm, or Snug Harbor’s new Heritage Farm.

Object of interest: Fanning Mill winnowing machine, 1800.

Pleasure Grounds
In the 19th century, important parts of Staten Island’s agricultural or undeveloped landscape were transformed as they became sites for recreation for all social classes. Large tracts of land became private estates or private clubs where the wealthy enjoyed nature and sport; key locales along the waterfront became leisure grounds where working people from Richmond County and the region could find entertainment and escape from the heat and crowds of the

As the City of New York on Manhattan Island grew into the nation’s most important port and most populous urban center in the first half of the 19th century, Staten Island presented itself as a respite from the ills of the industrial metropolis, an escape from the crowds and the diseases of “the City.” Estates like Seguine Mansion overlooking Prince’s Bay and Cornelius Vanderbilt’s “Homestead”; organizations like the Richmond County Hunt Club and the New York City Yacht club; amusement enterprises like South Beach’s “Happy Land” and Bachmann Brewery’s Midland Beach; even charitable institutions like Sailors’ Snug Harbor all took advantage of the open space and natural beauty on Staten Island.

These open spaces that had been left largely undeveloped took on new meaning the late 20th century. After Richmond County became one of the five boroughs of the newly consolidated city of Greater New York in 1898, the Island’s pastoral image took on new meaning as its residents fought to retain its bucolic sense of place. Beginning in the 1960s, citizen activists and environmentalists lobbied both city and state government to cordon off the Island’s undeveloped land from future development, a debate that still rages today.

Object of interest: “Great International Yacht Race” photographic print, 1870.

Commercial steam ferry service between Manhattan and Staten Island, inaugurated in 1817, helped transform New York’s landscape by providing a residential alternative to living in the commercial and artisanal quarters of lower Manhattan. On the Island, developers responded to New Yorkers’ growing fears that the city had become a disease-ridden den of vice and sin, overrun by undesirables – immigrants, radicals, and the poor – by developing new bedroom suburbs. But the new suburbs were not only residential districts. Entrepreneurs built new work places on the Staten Island in the hopes that its bucolic landscape would provide a positive moral influence on workers while isolation from the growing labor movements in Manhattan would provide factory owners with more control over their laborers.

At the turn of the 20th century, suburban Staten Island changed again, in part because of transportation improvements and new infrastructure. Entrepreneur Erastus Wiman gained control of both the Staten Island Railroad and the North and South Shore ferry lines in 1886 to create a new transit hub, which he named St. George. After the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1964, the automobile suburb of single-family homes eclipsed the other suburban forms, and today it remains the dominant residential pattern on Staten Island.

Object of interest: Little Farms Staten Island New York real estate brochure, 1909.

Staten Island’s history has always been inextricably linked to history of the larger city and region. The Island helped connect the booming metropolis to markets along the East Coast, provided sanctuary for the wealthy and growing middle class, and provided housing for workers who made their living in what was fast becoming the nation’s leading urban center. Many Staten Island residents, political leaders, and developers imagined their home as the antithesis of “The City” even while they remained deeply intertwined with the metropolis.

Ever since 1898, when Staten Island residents voted 5,531 to 1,505 in favor of becoming a borough in the newly consolidated New York City, the Island has wrestled with its identity as part of an urban center, debating issues of density as individuals, institutions, and the city competed to have their idealized visions and perceived needs become reality. Today, new arrivals are reinvigorating the downtowns of the north shore of Richmond County and helping to redefine what it means to live an urban life on Staten Island.

Object of interest: General map of the borough of Richmond with a preliminary plan for a street system, 1901.

The exhibition’s case studies will challenge visitors to think critically about how development needs – jobs, housing, transportation, health and welfare, and later recreation and preservation – have changed over time and, as a result, how the Island’s imagined and realized landscapes have been built and rebuilt in response. By thinking about development as a process, the exhibition provides visitors with the tools necessary to take a more active and critical stance in current debates over land-use and planning on Staten Island today.

Online Component
As a companion to the Museum of the City New York's 2012 exhibition, From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012, the Museum is creating a new website to explore the landscape of Staten Island through a curated collection of historic maps and images. The site, Mapping Staten Island, which will be available online via, guides visitors through a chronological sequence of historical milestones that showcase a unique set of richly detailed maps and atlases drawn from an array of cartographic archives. Visitors will be able to compare maps from different periods of time, as well as unrealized plans for the Island, exploring the development of the Island over time, as well as roads not taken.

Complementing the many layers of map imagery, a selection of photographs and drawings drawn from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York will overlay the Staten Island geography, allowing visitors to explore learn more about the history of specific places. In addition to curated contributions, website users will also be invited to submit their own stories of Richmond County, in text and images, to be featured on the public map interface.

This portal into the stories of Richmond County will be a unique resource for building and exploring the living history of Staten Island. The site is a production of Human Nature Projects, the web development team responsible for

From Farm to City is presented in collaboration with the Staten Island Museum and the Staten Island Historical Society/Historic Richmond Town, and it will remain on view through January 21, 2013. The exhibition was curated by a team led by the Museum of the City of New York’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director, Sarah M. Henry, and Guest Curator Liz McEnaney, with consulting curator Ryan Carey and curatorial consultant Adam Zalma. The exhibition was designed by Pure + Applied

Today's News

September 15, 2012

Exhibition in Paris presents a genre of painting epitomised by Canaletto and Guardi

Summer exhibitions at Metropolitan Museum stimulate $781 million economic impact for New York

Sotheby's Hong Kong Contemporary Asian Art Autumn Sale to take place on 7 October

Swann Galleries announces October 4 Auction of Fine Photographs & Photobooks

Massachusetts artists William Bradford and Edward Simmons to lead Grogan's September auction

Late master Tyeb Mehta's work titled Falling Figure with Bird to lead Saffronart's Autumn Art Auction 2012

Exhibition of new work by Lawrence Weiner opens at Blain / Southern in Berlin

Exhibition of new work by Catherine Goodman opens at Marlborough in London

Freeman's offers handwritten record of Thomas Alva Edison's last experiment: An alternative to rubber

Contemporary art destination Gillman Barracks officially opens in Singapore with 13 galleries

New exhibition explores how Staten Island has evolved and shaped the city for over 350 years

Olga de Amaral recreates the inner world of the universe at Nohra Haime Gallery

National Gallery of Art Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts announces 2012-2013 appointments

Chrysler Museum of Art adds Nick Cave Soundsuit to Collection

PULSE Miami 2012 announces exhibitors list

Retrospective exhibition of works by Lewis Baltz opens at Hanover's kestnergesellschaft

Exhibition lets you enter a world of material excess, accumulation, bravado and theatricality

Riflemaker opens first public exhibition of the work of feminist artist Penelope Slinger in forty years

Cemetery of African slaves honored

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New Rembrandt found after being bought at London auction

2.- Exhibition at Fotohof focuses on groups in society who are at risk of marginalisation

3.- John Brennan collection of Rock n Roll memorabilia offered at RR Auction

4.- A Bob Dylan guitar fetches $495,000 at auction

5.- Exhibition in San Francisco focuses on the latter half of René Magritte's career

6.- 'Mad' king Ludwig II of Bavaria lost gift to composer Richard Wagner gets rare show

7.- New Royal Academy of Arts opens in celebration of its 250th anniversary

8.- Researchers uncover Anne Frank's 'dirty jokes'in her diary

9.- New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies

10.- Berlin's Ethnological Museum returns grave-plundered artefacts to Alaska

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful