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Staten Island in the 1960s: A Mosaic of Music, Movements, and the Verrazzano

Journey back to Staten Island in the 1960s—a time of vibrancy, social change, and monumental development. Picture a color-saturated postcard of this era, from the tie-dye shirts to the neon diner signs, all the way to the towering Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge that became the gateway to this close-knit community. The air was thick with a sense of possibility; you could almost hear Bob Dylan’s lyrics wafting from radios and car windows, a fitting soundtrack to a decade unlike any other.

The Opening of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

Ah, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge! It’s hard to convey how momentous its opening in 1964 was for Staten Islanders. For years, the Island had been relatively secluded, accessible primarily by ferry. But the bridge changed everything. Suddenly, Staten Island was more deeply connected to Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. It wasn’t just steel and concrete; it was a portal to a new era, inviting both growth and complexity.

Peace, Love, and Protests

The ’60s were a decade of social movements, and Staten Island was not an outsider to these tides of change. The civil rights movement, women’s liberation, and anti-war protests touched every corner of the U.S., including this island borough. Voices rose in unison at Wagner College and local parks, calling for justice and equality. Coffee shops and community centers became spaces for activism, where folk songs mingled with impassioned debates.

The Music Scene: From Folk to Psychedelia

Speaking of music, if you were a teenager in 1960s Staten Island, the airwaves were your connection to the wider world. AM radios buzzed with the sounds of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and homegrown talents like The Rascals. Local venues, some now the stuff of legend, hosted gigs that showcased a range of musical genres. Whether you were into folk, rock, or the Motown grooves, Staten Island had a space for you to let loose.

Families, Parks, and the Domestic Sphere

On the home front, the post-war baby boom had a distinct imprint on Staten Island. Schools were filled to brim, and a rise in local sports leagues created a sense of community among young residents. Staten Island’s beautiful parks like Clove Lakes became sanctuaries for family picnics and impromptu football games. Ah, those Sunday drives with the family, perhaps ending at one of the Island’s picturesque beaches, with transistor radios announcing the latest Mets score.

The Shopping Mall Revolution

Towards the latter part of the 1960s, a retail phenomenon began to reshape the local landscape: shopping malls. The Staten Island Mall opened its doors in 1973, but the transformation started in the ’60s with planning and construction. There was the excitement, and novelty of it all—a one-stop-shop for everything, from bell-bottoms to record albums. It heralded a new era in retail culture, both celebrated and critiqued.

#1 The moments before the power failure of November 9, plunging 30 million people into darkness, 1965.

#2 Staten Island Ferryboat Verrazzano During Its Prime, 1963.

#3 Advertisement for Staten Island’s Weissglass-Gold Seal Dairy in Front of IS 51, 1961.

#5 Black Saturday: Three Large Brush Fires in Staten Island Causing $2 Million Damage, 1963.

#6 Staten Island Expressway Was Under Construction; Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Seen in the Distance, 1964.

#7 Fabulous Farmers Market in Greenridge, unidentified photo from November 1, 1966

#8 North Shore Boat Docks and City Buildings, Staten Island, 1968.

#9 Horse-drawn sleigh rides in Clove Lakes Park during the Park Department’s Snow Ball, 1967.

#10 First Staten Island Settlers Raised Crops, Farm Off Lamberts Lane in Graniteville, 1960s

#11 Billboard for NorthCool, KORAY SUIT on Victory Boulevard, 1960s.

#12 Bogardus Corners in Sandy Ground, Destroyed During the Brush Fire, 1963

#15 Ferryboat Irvington Used on Line from Tottenville to Perth Amboy, Ceased Operation in 1963

#16 Mini-Firetruck Used to Fight Brush Fire Near LaTourette Golf Course, 1968

#17 Traffic Enters the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on the Day after Opening, 1964.

#18 Stock Car Racing at Weissglass Stadium, Port Richmond, 1964.

#19 Construction was underway in 1962 on the Staten Island Expressway, then known as the Clove Lakes Expressway; Staten Island Expressway takes shape, 1962.

#21 Hand-lettered sign above painted directional sign for Clove Road, 1969.

#22 Traffic congestion at Rockland Avenue and Richmond Road in Egbertville, 1969.

#23 View of Amboy Road at the corner of Giffords Lane in Great Kills, 1960.

#24 Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Construction Weighing Nearly 70,000 Tons, 1963.

#25 Transit Authority buses, Staten Island, circa 1966.

#26 Intersection of Page Avenue and Richmond Valley Road near the former Nassau Smelting and Refining Co., 1968.

#27 The Transit Authority Selects Wide Intersection in Brooklyn for Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Buses; Commuting Time Estimated at One Hour from Concord to Times Square, 1964.

#28 First Day of Issue Envelope Cover with ‘Gateway to Europe, Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,’ 1964.

#29 Port Richmond to Bayonne Ferry Operated from 1701 to 1961.

#30 Aerial View of Richmond Avenue in Bulls Head, Shows Sparse Traffic and Farmland, Transformed Since the Opening of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1964.

#31 Uphill Job, Scraper Moves Up Incline in Staten Island Expressway Bed, Working to Complete Highway, 1964.

#32 Mets Gil Hodges and Wife Join New Yorkers in Parade Honoring the World Series Champions, 1969.

#33 Construction Progresses for 900-Seat PS 55 in Eltingville to Relieve Overcrowding in PS 42, Expected Opening in 1965.

#34 Snowcroft’s Pharmacy, Amboy Road in Pleasant Plains, 1960s.

#35 The A&P on Main Street in Tottenville in 1966 had wooden floors and friendly clerks.

#36 Store Located at Forest Avenue and Grandview Avenue in Mariners Harbor, Late 1960s.

#37 Cars in the Parking Lot at Waldbaum’s, Castleton Corners, Staten Island, 1965.

#38 The Charles W. Galloway, Last Steamboat Ferry for the Perth Amboy to Tottenville Run, Built in 1922; Service Ceased in 1963, 1948.

#39 The Boehm House, Typical of 18th and 19th Century Staten Island Farmhouses, Moved to Historic Richmond Town, 1965.

#40 Youngsters Attempt to Save Their Clubhouse from Destruction by the Parks Department in New Springville, 1968.

#41 Flooded Restaurant at Foot of Seguine Avenue After Hurricane Donna, 1960.

#42 Steelworkers Perform Near Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, 1964.

#43 Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge construction moving closer to opening 20 months away, 1963.

#44 New Dorp Light, an official New York City landmark, was built in the 1850s, lit in 1856, and deactivated in 1964.

#45 Tina’s Diner, a Favorite All-Night Place to Eat at Victory Boulevard at Jewett Avenue, Circa 1960.

#46 Staten Island Chapter of SPEBSQSA Sings in the Shadow of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1965.

#47 Rush-Hour Crowds Check into the South Ferry Terminal, 1965.

#48 Construction Workers Squeeze the Cables of the Verrazzano Bridge, 1963.

#49 A Fruit Merchant Readies His Stand on Victory Boulevard, 1965.

#50 People Aboard the Queen Mary Look Up at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1966.

#51 Harried Commuters at the St. George Ferry Terminal Wait to Use Telephones, 1965.

#52 Builders Receive Rectangular Pieces for the Verrazzano Bridge Roadway Deck, 1963.

#53 View North from Annadale Road in Annadale, Less Than Half of the Highway Was Originally Planned, 1968.

#54 Workers Attach Catwalk Rope to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Tower Beams, 1962.

#55 Workers Pull Cable Lines for Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Construction, 1964.

#56 Curved Roadway of Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge from Emerson Hill, 1964.

#57 Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge During Construction, circa 1963.

#58 Construction of Upper Level of VZ Bridge, Foundation for Approach Road, 1964.

#59 Crowds of Visitors Gather to Watch an Air Show in Midland Beach, 1969.

#61 Bulldozer Rips up a Section of the Richmond Terrace Roadbed for Construction, 1968.

#63 Tractor Trailer and Cars Marooned in Snow on Narrows Road South, 1967.

#64 Staten Island Side, Toll Plaza of Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1964.

#65 Traffic Increasing in Stapleton Area, New Traffic Light at Bay and Broad Streets, 1969.

#66 View of the NYC skyline from the Staten Island Ferry, 1960.

#67 Steel girders form the foundation for the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge’s upper roadway, 1964.

#68 “Winter Blunderland”: Trucks stranded in heavy snow on Stuyvesant Place, St. George, 1960.

#69 Ducks Cross Frozen Jack’s Pond as Young Hockey Players Play, 1960.

#71 Thanksgiving Dinner at the Towne House, 1964: menu included turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, $3.85. 1964

#72 Notre Dame College, The Cardinal Spellman Library, St. John’s University, 1960s

#73 Oakwood Shopping Center Construction, Slated to Open in the Fall, 1964.

#74 Staten Island Ferry Verrazzano, Named after Giovanni da Verrazzano, Decommissioned in the 1980s, 1962.

#76 A View of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Nearing Completion, Circa 1964.

#77 Construction of Underpass for Clove Lakes Expressway at Meiers Corners, Circa 1963.

#79 Staten Island tax protestors head to Manhattan aboard the Staten Island ferryboat Verrazzano, March 2, 1960.

#80 Aerial view of Manhattan, noting the future site of the World Trade Center, circa 1965.

#81 Fox Plaza Theater’s Grand Opening with Joan Crawford, Became a Twin in the Late 1970s, Circa 1966.

#82 Holly Avenue in Great Kills, Staten Island, 1961.

#83 Construction of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Staten Island, 1963.

#84 Push to Complete Bridge and Staten Island Expressway, May 1964.

#85 Soldiers clear debris at Ft. Wadsworth beach after a storm, March 16, 1962.

#86 Miller Field Airport, a U.S. Army facility in New Dorp, named after Captain James Ely Miller, built in 1921, closed in 1969.

#87 Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge standing ready for the next construction phase, captured from Brooklyn, 1963.

#88 Bentley Street at Ferry to Perth Amboy, Tottenville; the former ferry stopped running in 1963, marking a decline in ridership.

#89 Aerial view of St. George on Staten Island, 1960s

#90 A 15-Inch Snowfall Left Cars Marooned on Narrows Road South in Concord, 1969.

#91 Snowstorm on February 5, 1961; Bride and Groom Shoveling Snow; 17 Inches of Snow in the Area, Referred to as the Kennedy Inaugural Snowstorm, 1961.

#93 Clove Road Overpass; Comparison of March 1960 and 2017, 1960.

#94 View of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge looking southeast near completion, March 1964.

#95 Workers guiding a section of the VZ towers in place, circa 1960s.

#96 Aerial view of Bayonne Bridge and Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, world leaders in 1964.

#97 Various Stores at Forest Avenue Shoppers Town, Port Richmond, 1960s.

#98 A ship sails beneath the under-construction Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, December 1963

#99 Aftermath of Hurricane Alma on Hylan Blvd & Delaware Ave, Dongan Hills, 1962.

#100 Workers in Sign Shop Making Signs for Verrazano-Narrows and Triborough Bridges, Including Louis Longo, Frank Godino, and Andrew Vitulano, 1966.

#101 Keystone roadway section of the new bridge is hoisted, 1963.

#102 DeFranco’s Luncheonette, Baltimore Flats Apartments, Victory Boulevard, and Bay Street, Tompkinsville, 1969.

#103 Richmond Avenue, featuring the Airport Driving Range for golfers, Staten Island Airport, and Fabian’s drive-in theater, 1965

#104 Boats at Witte Scrap Yard, also known as the Staten Island boat graveyard, July 1965.

#105 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Truss Being Erected, Connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn, 1963.

#106 Pile Driver Half-Submerged Near Staten Island Tower of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1963.

#107 A 69th Street Staten Island/Brooklyn Ferryboat Docks at the Brooklyn Terminal, 1964

#108 Construction Under Way on the Staten Island Expressway, Then Known as Clove Lakes Expressway, 1962

#109 Remains of the New York Diner on Bay Street, Tompkinsville, After Two Fires, 1964.

#110 Brooklyn Approach to Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Circa 1964.

#112 Staten Island Rapid Transit Train Yard with St. George Ferry Terminal in the Background, 1969.

#113 Typical views of congested, narrow Richmond Avenue, 1969.

#114 Getting from Clarke Avenue onto Amboy Road used to be a feat before a traffic light was installed in Oakwood shopping center, 1969.

#115 This muddy mess will someday be part of a cloverleaf linking the Staten Island Expressway to the West Shore Expressway, 1968.

#118 Passenger cars converge on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza, 1966.

#119 Bay Street trestle in Clifton advertising Kurly’s Restaurant, 1969.

#120 Staten Island Ferry Short Route to New Jersey, Sign from 69th Street Slip, 1964.

#121 Tottenville High School Band in Parade in Pleasant Plains, Circa 1969.

#122 Victory Towers Apartments at Clove Lake Park Under Construction, Circa 1965.

#123 Staten Island Ferry Boat Merrell Loading Up at St. George Terminal, 1965.

#124 The Britton Cottage Moves to Richmondtown, One of Staten Island’s Oldest Colonial Structures, 1965.

#125 Winter Storm Causes Flooding on Goodall Street, Great Kills, 1966.

#126 Fisheye Lens View of Tommy Enright Walking Across Upper Girder of Bayonne Bridge, Staten Island to the Left, 1969.

#127 Rush Hour Commuters Wait at Turnstiles in the St. George Ferry Terminal, 1969.

#128 Buoy Tender in Great Kills Harbor Finds Tough Sailing, Wind Gusts up to 60 mph, 1967.

#129 A Last-Minute Rush for Plates Causes Traffic Tie-Up at the Motor Vehicle Office on St. Marks Place, St. George, 1969.

#130 Chief Inspector James J. McGuire Helps Lift a Girl to Police Boat on Cedar Grove Avenue After Hurricane Donna Hit, 1960.

#131 A Crane Demolishes PS 14 on Broad Street, Stapleton, 1962.

#132 Sister Patrice Operating the Language Lab at St. Joseph Hill, 1969.

#133 Structural Beam Work on Lower Deck of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1968.

#134 Aerial View of NY Skyline; Madison Square Garden under Construction, 1967.

#136 The Willowbrook Expressway near the Bayonne Bridge, 1963.

#137 The curving Willowbrook Expressway spur by rows of new homes, 1964.

#138 The Queen Mary Passes Fort Wadsworth, Serving from 1936 to 1967, Retired and Now a Tourist Attraction, 1967

#139 Canal Street, Stapleton Decorated for Christmas, December 1968

#140 Students and teachers at Curtis High School used the athletic field to park, 1966.

#142 Aerial view of South Beach north of Sand Lane, 1965.

#144 Superman Balloon in the 1966 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

#145 Cars pack the Staten Island Expressway to cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on its opening day, 1964.

#146 Second day of Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge being open, 1964.

#147 Crowds surround the first car to drive through a toll booth during the opening day of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge,1964.

#148 Peace marchers proceed up Bay Street to Borough Hall, 1969.

#149 ’67 Chevy, Impala Super Sports Coupe. The ad reads: “Here’s a ride that’s 10 years in the making!” 1966.

#150 The site of the future PS 31 in New Brighton, circa 1962.

#151 The 1960 Caddy being sold at Hosler Cadillac Co., 438 Richmond Avenue.

#152 Clove Lakes Expressway construction site, Sunnyside, 1963.

#153 Construction of the Martin Luther King Expressway, eliminating a World War II army installation, 1964.

#154 ’61 F-85 Olds features in the Staten Island Advance, 1960.

#155 Clothes shopping in the Food Farm fashions section, West Brighton, circa 1961.

#156 A Look at One of the First Buses to Ever Cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1964.

#157 St. Peter’s High School Students Celebrating, 1965.

#160 First section of roadway steel for the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is hoisted into place, 1963.

#161 The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge construction crew have a dizzying view of the Narrows, 1963.

#162 Clove Lakes Expressway (Staten Island Expressway) Construction, Fort Wadsworth, 1964.

#163 Verrazzano Narrows Bridge Construction, Painters Put Finishing Touches on Cables Above the Waters of the Narrows, 1964.

#164 Smoke Pours from Flaming Electric Shop of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company during Four-Alarm Fire, 1962.

#165 Construction work on the Clove Lakes Expressway leading to the intersection of Clove Road and Richmond Road, Concord, 1963.

#166 Susan Wagner High School during construction, 1966.

#167 Construction of Dreyfus (I.S. 49), Stapleton, 1961.

#168 Construction clog on Price Street, Concord, leading into Richmond Road, 1963.

#169 Ridgecrest Avenue in Eltingville as part of the “Ridgecrest Estates” development, pre-Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, as seen in 1960.

#171 The Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, Over 350 Years Old, Oldest Building on Staten Island and One of the Oldest in New York, Built Around 1663, Designated New York City Landmark in 1967

#172 The SIR Guyon Ave., Oakwood Overpass Under Construction, 1963.

#173 People Line 42nd Street in Manhattan to Cheer Apollo 11 Astronauts, 1969.

#174 Visitors to the Staten Island Zoo Look at Cassius, a 128-Pound Cassowary, the Largest Bird Ever Exhibited There, a Relative of the Ostrich, 1964.

#175 Hasbro G.I. Joe Action Figure Toy Advertisement, Original Idea Developed in 1963 by Stan Weston, Licensed to Hasbro, 1964.

#176 NYPD Officer Guards the Outerbridge Crossing, Tottenville, 1961.

#177 Boy Stands on Unpaved, Muddy Gower Street in Castleton Corners, 1962.

Written by Dennis Saul

Content creator and Professional photographer who still uses Vintage film roll cameras. Not that I loved London less But that i Love New York City More.

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