If I could describe the borough of Staten Island in one word, my selection would be (wait for it… drum roll…) underrated.
This place is seriously cool, and before I ventured out for an afternoon on the island this weekend, I feel like I had barely heard anything about it. I enjoyed my jaunt very much – from the midday Manhattan ferry all the way to the sunset ferry on the way back.
While we’re at it, how about that ferry? The Staten Island ferry is the best and closest possible view of
our iconic Statue of Liberty to be had that is free of charge. While we had previously done the ferry trip one evening as a group, I took just as much pleasure in the second ferry go-around, especially knowing how close the boat would be to Lady Liberty (as well as Ellis Island) – and now having the chance to ready my camera. Coming from a guy who’s certainly been indulgent in New York’s free experiences, I feel like the ferry over to Staten Island is perhaps one of the most priceless (literally) experiences to be had throughout the Big Apple.
After reaching Staten Island itself, I quickly became aware of another one of the island’s underrated characteristics – its large size. I definitely spent a majority of my four hours on the island simply walking from perceived destination to destination, even through accessing the island’s single subway track (which runs almost directly down the center of the island).
While strolling, I took in a beautiful variance of settings and surroundings. Staten Island is very diverse, but it is a separate sense of the diversity which graces the rest of the city. Every five minutes, I felt like I was in a completely different and separated area from where I had found myself previously. From sprawling neighborhoods dotted with affluent and ancient houses (with lawns!) to packed-in and rich cultural clusters home to all sorts of harmoniously different people, I felt like I was taking a grand tour through many miles – not a several meters.
Eventually, I reached the landmark I had wanted to see most. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island’s Eastern half to Brooklyn, had stood out to me ever since that initial ferry ride. Seeing it up close turned out to be an even more enriching experience that I’d hoped for.
As I neared the bridge on the horizon, I eventually came to a National Park Service gate. I was a bit confused, but happy that the rest of my walk would become even more scenic. Little had I known that an old United States colonial fort stood at the foot of the bridge, which the Park Guide at the gate jovially explained to me.
The incredible view that I eventually made my way to – of Fort Wadsworth, of now-distant Manhattan, and especially of the Verrazano Bridge – was simply the best I’ve discovered in all of New York. I do a lot of talking as it is, so instead I’ll let the images tell this amazing story:
Staten Island is a hidden gem. Venturing out and experiencing the island will almost certainly qualify as an unforgettable adventure.
– Zach Garcia