Must-See St. George
by Harrison Peck and Christina Parrella, 02/25/2013
Photo: Clayton Cotterell
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St. George Historic District and Other Landmarks
The best way to introduce yourself to St. George is by taking in its historic district. Roughly bounded by Richmond Terrace to the north, Westervelt Avenue to the west and Hamilton Avenue to the south, the picturesque enclave of roughly 80 buildings offers a remarkable concentration of late 19th-century houses in the Queen Anne, colonial revival and shingle styles. The area, designated an official historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1994, was initially developed as a planned suburban community by wealthy Manhattan businessmen in the 1830s (one of the earliest such suburbs). The grandeur of their vision is particularly evident in several homes on St. Marks Place, Westervelt Avenue and Phelps Place, and just outside the district on Fort Hill Circle, where a mansion modeled after a Spanish castle sits high atop a hill.
As the administrative center of Staten Island, St. George also contains a number of important civic structures. Upon exiting the ferry terminal, you'll see Carrère and Hastings' French Renaissance–style Staten Island Borough Hall. Built in 1906 and designated an official NYC landmark in 1982, the building merits a peek inside to see the magnificent Works Progress Administration murals that swathe the majestic lobby. The neoclassical Staten Island Supreme Courthouse, another NYC landmark, and St. George branch of the New York Public Library, with its timbered main reading room, are close by. Both buildings were also designed by Carrère and Hastings, who's most famous creation is probably the New York Public Library in Manhattan.
For those looking to venture slightly further afield, the dining destination of Little Sri Lanka can be reached via the Staten Island Railway, several MTA bus routes or on foot (it's about 8 to 20 minutes from the ferry terminal, depending on the destination). —HP