What Staten Island looked like in the 1970s through These Fascinating Photos

The air in 1970s Staten Island was tinged with the musky scent of vinyl records, the growl of muscle cars, and the buzz of civic engagement. It was a time of flared pants, formidable afros, and expressive graffiti art—all blending to create a portrait of an era that still whispers to us today.

The Arrival of the Staten Island Mall

If the late ’60s set the stage for a retail revolution, the ’70s saw the curtain rise. The Staten Island Mall opened its doors in 1973, providing Islanders with an entirely new way to shop and socialize. Imagine teenagers hanging out by the fountain, flanked by stores selling everything from mood rings to 8-track tapes. The food court was a cacophony of sizzling grills and friendly banter, a nexus of community life.

Staten Island Expressway: A Divisive Convenience

There’s no talking about Staten Island in the ’70s without mentioning the completion of the Staten Island Expressway. It was an arterial link that promised swifter commutes but also stirred controversies over the displacement of residents and businesses. Nevertheless, the Expressway became a fixture, changing the Island’s dynamic and challenging its small-town feel.

Civic Engagement and Activism

If the ’60s were marked by protest and social change, the ’70s deepened the grooves of community activism. Among the issues that hit close to home was the Fresh Kills Landfill. Islanders united in the quest for better environmental practices, and slowly, the vision for the future Freshkills Park began to crystallize. Town hall meetings were buzzing with debate and citizen journalism reached new heights, capturing the spirit of an involved community.

The Disco Craze Meets Rock Rebellion

Turn the dial to the local radio station, and you’d find yourself in the midst of a musical battleground. On one side, disco—with its pulsating beats and glittering disco balls—captured the hearts of many. Places like the Electric Circus became dance sanctuaries. On the other side, rock music, especially of the punk and classic varieties, reverberated in bars and makeshift concert venues. It was a time when music was more than a pastime; it was a statement.

Family Life: New and Continued Traditions

As the family unit adapted to the pressures and changes of the ’70s, Staten Island remained a haven for those in pursuit of the American Dream. Backyard barbecues were enlivened by the sounds of a new generation, perhaps riding skateboards or debating Star Wars trivia. Schools buzzed with the anticipation of summer vacations, perhaps a trip to the renovated South Beach Boardwalk, replete with carnival games and Atlantic breezes.

Then there was the blackout—a citywide plunge into darkness in the summer of 1977. It was a moment of both chaos and camaraderie. While parts of the city were marred by looting, many Staten Islanders came together to help neighbors and secure communities.

#1 A&W in Dongan Hills was a go-to spot for Mid-Island residents; it closed in 2009, 1970.

#2 Dodgem Cars at Beachland Amusement, South Beach, Staten Island, 1970s.

#4 New lights installed around the Staten Island War Memorial Skating Rink in Clove Lakes Park, 1970.

#5 Motorists Line Up for Gasoline on New Dorp Lane near Hylan Blvd., 1979.

#6 American Flag Unfurled on the Verrazzano Bridge for America’s Bicentennial, 1976.

#8 Walker Street and Morningstar Road in Elm Park, 1971

#9 Crowded Parking Conditions Near Staten Island Community College, 1971

#10 Row of about 70 cottages on Cedar Grove Beach, New Dorp, 1977.

#11 Outerbridge crossing construction work on a new seven-lane toll plaza, 1972.

#12 Homemade Sign Warns Motorists of Pothole on Manor Road in Egbertville, 1970.

#14 Fruit and Vegetable Stand at Rockland and Brielle Avenues, 1970s.

#15 Traffic on Bay Street, Clifton, Crawling Towards St. George After SIRT Strike, 1970.

#16 Cars Fill the Parking Lot Behind Macy’s, Fresh Kills Landfill in the Background, 1974.

#17 Down-Home Dining at Sunnyside at Oswego Street Since 1972, Tompkinsville.

#18 Statue of Liberty’s Crown Opens for First Time Since COVID-19 Pandemic, Liberty Island, 1976.

#19 Motorists Directed to Keep Near the Curb on Bay Street in St. George, Lines of Cars Waiting for the Ferry, 1979.

#20 Police Awards, 1977: Assistant Chief James Meehan Congratulates Officers George Schlitz and Thomas Quinn, 1977

#21 This tractor-trailer manages to make it under the SIR overpass on Amboy Road, but the auto at its rear wasn’t so lucky, 1976.

#22 The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll was 75 cents each way, 1975.

#23 Students fill the street in front of New Dorp High School after a fight prompted early dismissal for the year, 1975.

#24 Members of Staten Island United block traffic to fight a proposed theme park on the Island, April 1975.

#25 Making a purchase at a ferryboat snack bar, 1970.

#26 Sleepy Hollow Inn on Bloomingdale Road in Rossville, Known as Reinhardt’s, Was a Throwback to the Last Century; Closed in Late 80s, Early 90s, 1972.

#28 S.R. Smith Infirmary at Old Staten Island University Hospital in Tompkinsville, 1979.

#29 View Down Victory Blvd with World Trade Center Twin Towers in Background, 1974.

#30 Castleton Corners Service Station Offers Premium Gasoline at 72.9 Cents per Gallon, Regular Fuel Costs Four Cents Less, 1975.

#31 Dugan Playground Being Constructed at Mill Road and Tysens Lane, 1973.

#32 Collision between the SS C.V. Sea Witch and the SS Esso Brussels under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge resulted in a fire and 18 fatalities, 1973.

#33 Three European Wild Hogs were newcomers to the Children’s Zoo, April 1978.

#34 Traffic on Seaside Boulevard near South Beach Psychiatric Center, circa 1975.

#35 Aerial view of Manhattan showing the Twin Towers, 1977.

#36 The World Trade Center opened and dominated the Manhattan skyline, 1973.

#37 Staten Islanders Used to Have Their Milk Delivered in Horse-Drawn Wagons from Weissglass Dairy, Mariners Harbor, 1979.

#40 Corner of Hylan Blvd. and Midland Ave. During Heavy Rain, 1970s.

#41 A Pony at Clove Lake Stables Enjoys Early Spring Grass, 1970s.

#42 A Caravan of Traffic from New Jersey Through the Old Toll Plaza at the Outerbridge Crossing, 1975.

#43 NYC Skyline as Seen from Staten Island’s North Shore, 1979.

#44 First McDonald’s in Borough on Forest Avenue, 1970s.

#45 Cars Populate St. George Ferry Terminal Parking Lot, Early 1970s.

#46 The Intersection of Van Duzer Street and Victory Blvd, 1970

#47 The Martling-Cazine House at 40 Watchogue Road Could Not Be Saved, but the Olmsted-Beil House Was Saved, Staten Island Advance, 1970s.

#48 Increased Traffic Along Richmond Avenue Causes Tie-Ups, Construction Continues to Widen Road Near Victory Boulevard, Bulls Head, 1972.

#49 Olympia Blvd. in Midland Beach Looks Like Frozen Arctic Tundra, 1978.

#50 Gas Sold to Car Wash Patrons Only, Bay Street, Rosebank, 1974.

#51 Grymes Hill Looking Towards Todt Hill Rd at the Island’s First Substantial Snowfall, 1972.

#54 People enjoy ice skating on Brady’s Pond at the Cameron Club, Grasmere, despite open water, 1974.

#55 Christmas in Stapleton with Decorations on Bay Street, 1976.

#56 Staten Island Mall Christmas display complete with a train ride, 1975.

#57 Brooklyn-bound side of the Staten Island Expressway, 1971.

#58 Weissglass Stadium in Port Richmond hosted a variety of events; operations ceased in 1972.

#59 Military vehicles cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge with a toll of 50¢, 1970.

#60 Staten Island Explorer Scouts mark end of Boy Scout Week by building watch tower and monkey bridge at Pouch Camp, 1970.

#61 Representatives of 26 Staten Island American Legion groups celebrate Veterans Day at the Staten Island Mall, 1978.

#62 Jefferson Blvd. clogged with cars during the school bus strike of 1979.

#63 A Moment of Truth Dawns Upon This Bettor: Betting on Election Day at the OTB in Stapleton, Nov. 1, 1978.

#64 Chester Wroblewski Jr. Pumps Gas at Getty Station at 337 Van Duzer St., November 1974.

#65 Dr. Jerry Cammarata Made National Headlines for Becoming the First Father to Receive Paternity Leave, 1973.

#66 Work Progressing on the Holiday Inn on Richmond Ave., Graniteville, January 17, 1973.

#67 Aerial View of Construction of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, 1970.

#68 Newly Installed Sidewalk on Richmond Avenue Looks Like a Bridge over Troublesome Water After a Flood, 1971.

#69 Buda Bakers, Located at 2110 Richmond Road in Grant City, Is Now the Home of Panino Rustico. Pictures is from 1970s

#71 Richmond County Fair, Staten Island, Historic Richmond Town Revived the Annual Classic in 1979

#72 Staten Island Mall from the early 70s, opened on Aug. 9, 1973, as a hub for entertainment, eating, and shopping, 1973.

#73 Staten Islanders lining up for gas on the service road between Richmond Rd. and Targee St., 1973.

#74 Intersection of Richmond Avenue and Victory Boulevard in Bulls Head, 1971.

#75 McDonald’s Restaurant at Hylan and Midland Ave., Renovated and Still in Business, 1978.

#76 The Shoals, Landmark German Restaurant on the Great Kills Shoreline, Known for Jazz, Burned Down in 1970.

#77 OTB, 1414 Restaurant & Bar, Forest Avenue, Port Richmond, 1976.

#78 The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll was 75 cents each way, 1975.

#79 The First Richmond County Fair Held in West New Brighton, Revived by Historic Richmond Town in 1979.

#80 Dodging Potholes on Willowbrook Road Near Wooley Avenue, 1970.

#81 Opening of the Jerry Lewis Cinema at 2166 Forest Avenue in Mariners Harbor, 1974.

#82 JVC 8-Track Deck and Other Electronics Offered at EDC Electronics, Hylan Blvd., 1973.

#83 Motorists at Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Toll Plaza with a New Sign for 25-Cent Increase, Circa 1975.

#84 The Choir Loft, Stapleton, Staten Island, Open from 1977 to 1997.

#86 Prohibited Activities at South Beach, Staten Island, 1973.

#87 Wedding Scene from “The Godfather” Shot on Emerson Hill, Staten Island, May 26, 1971.

#88 Scenes for “The Godfather” draw a crowd in midtown Manhattan, March 24, 1971.

#89 Old Staten Island Hospital on Castleton Avenue, evolved from the Smith Infirmary, serving the community since 1869 and eventually became Staten Island Hospital, 1979.

#90 Morning drive to class at St. John’s campus in 1972, featuring the Loretto Memorial Library, 1970s

#91 Staten Island Liquefied Natural Gas Explosion Kills 40 Workers, 1973.

#92 Cars on the Staten Island Ferry “John F. Kennedy”, Circa 1974

#93 Log Cabin Telephone Booth at Richmondtown Restoration, 1978.

#94 The Firehouse at Van Duzer and Hannah Streets Turned into a Residence, 1978.

#96 War Memorial Skating Rink, Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island, Nov. 1976.

#97 Confusion over “Greenbrook, Staten Island” in a development advertisement, circa 1973.

#98 Explosion at the Bayway refinery in Linden New Jersey, felt 25 miles away in Staten Island, 1970.

#99 Tavern on the Green, a popular Staten Island restaurant frequented by celebrities, destroyed by fire, 1977.

#100 Classic Staten Island view of Forest Ave. and Victory Blvd., circa 1974

#101 Cars Banned from Ferries After Sept. 11 Attacks, Seen in 1978.

#103 Street name changed from Pommer Avenue to Bommer Avenue by vandals, July 1971.

#104 Boats during New York Harbor Festival, Manhattan skyline in the background, June 29, 1979.

#106 A typical day on the Staten Island Expressway, guessed to be 1972.

#107 Long gas lines at Shell station at Hylan Blvd. and Steuben St., 1979.

#109 South Street Seaport Museum’s Flotilla Exchanges Salutes with Brigantine Black Pearl, 1970.

#110 Motorists at Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Toll Plaza with New Sign for Toll Increase, 1975.

#111 Conca D’Oro in Mariners Harbor, Motel and Restaurant History, Circa 1979.

#112 A&W in Dongan Hills: Images from This Vintage Burger Spot, 1973

#113 Moshulu, the Largest Original Windjammer, Towed Across the Atlantic Ocean to South Street Seaport, New York, 1972.

#114 Reminder for One-Way Toll at Bayonne Bridge, 1970.

#115 Wooley Avenue Between the Staten Island Expressway and Willowbrook Road Looks like a Used Car Lot after a Rainstorm, 1972

#116 Fruit and Vegetable Stand at Forest and Union Avenues, Mariners Harbor, 1973

#117 Schlitz Beer Bottle Float Flown Past the Statue of Liberty, 1970

#118 Class Trip to the Statue of Liberty, PS 21, Elm Park Dedication Ceremonies for the American Museum of Immigration, 1972.

#119 World’s Tallest Building, the World Trade Center, Towers over Dilapidated Pier 19, Making Way for Battery Park City, 1970.

#120 Atlantic Railroad Station and Bridge in Tottenville, Serving the Community as a Bridge and Message Board, 1973.

#121 Tree Growing Through Front Stoop at Hillcrest Terrace, Grasmere, 1972.

#122 Mispelled Sign at the Corner of Shaughnessy Lane and Tompkins Avenue, Rosebank, 1970.

#124 Policeman and youngsters try to figure out a twisted wreck on the Willowbrook Expressway, near Staten Island Expressway, 1970.

#125 Construction proceeds on a water supply pumping station on Ontario Avenue, Sunnyside, 1974.

#126 Roulston’s Grocery Stores on Stone Street, Unique Part of Staten Island, Circa 1978.

#127 Staten Island Rapid Transit Stop, Old Town (Gold Town), 1973.

#128 Monumental Traffic Jam on the Staten Island Expressway, 1971.

#129 Huguenot Avenue Near Amboy Road Covered with Ice and Slush, 1971.

#130 Where Did All the Cars Go? West Shore Expressway, March 1973.

#131 Fire Hydrant Left in Middle of Road on Lamoka and Fern Avenues, Great Kills, September 1971.

#132 Commuters Wait as Pvt. Joseph F. Merrell Docks; Ferry Commissioned in 1951, Only Staten Islander to Win the Medal of Honor During WWII, 1972.

#133 Looking Like a War Zone, Escanaba Ave. in Great Kills Presents an Obstacle Course, 1970.

#134 Blizzard of ’78, Bonnie Timmerman and Arlene Fallon Admire a Convincing Replica of a Volkswagen Constructed by Mrs. Timmerman’s Husband in Great Kills, 1978.

#136 A battery at Fort Wadsworth salutes a Navy ship as it passes under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1975.

#141 Wagonmaster Leon Gillis charges through the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll gate, 1971.

#142 Old Boats Lined Up at Witte Marine Scrap Yard, Rossville, known as the Tugboat Graveyard, 1977.

#143 Santa Claus in Horse Drawn Buggy in a Christmas Parade, December 23, 1973

#144 The container ship Sea Witch and tanker Esso Brussels collided near the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1973.

#145 Opening day of the new Save Way Service Station at Bay Street and Willow Avenue in Clifton, 1971.

#147 “Hell Drivers” at Weissglass Stadium, Home to Sports and Events Including Demolition Derbies, 1972.

#148 West Shore Expressway Without Cars, Staten Island, 1979.

#149 Catastrophe Off Staten Island Near the VZ Bridge, Sea Witch Collided with Esso Brussels, 1973.

#150 Fire Investigators Inspect Charred Timbers at South Beach Boardwalk, 1976.

#151 Silver Lake: Used to harvest ice until 1917; converted to a reservoir; returned to recreational use after tanks were completed, 1971.

#152 New Brighton Sits on the Kill van Kull with U/S. Gypsum in the Foreground, Cassidy-Lafayette Houses in the Center, Circa 1976.

#153 Spectators Line Up Along the Shore in Fort Wadsworth for “Son of Op Sail” Festivities, 1977.

#154 The Princes Bay Trade Mart with Wolfes Pond Park, Great Kills Harbor, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in the background, 1977.

#156 Fare signage for 10-cent Staten Island Ferry would soon change to a quarter, 1975.

#157 Long-Gone Sears on Forest Avenue, Staten Island Mall’s Once-Dominant Retailer’s Location, 1975.

#158 New Dorp High School under construction with Miller Field in the background, late 1970s.

#159 Price increase at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza, 1975.

#161 Fireman douses flames at the South Beach Boardwalk, Staten Island, 1978.

#162 Shooters Island, 43-Acre Uninhabited Island, Revolutionary War History, Major Shipyard in Late 19th Century, Official Bird Sanctuary, Circa 1978.

#163 The Sloop, Clearwater, at NYC’s Harbor Festival Joins Other Vessels, 1978.

#164 S.R. Smith Infirmary, Named for Dr. Samuel Russell Smith, Renamed Staten Island Hospital, Built in 1889, Demolished in 2012, Circa 1979.

#165 Construction Site on Richmond Avenue in New Springville for Staten Island Mall, 1972.

#167 Police Officer Directs Cars on Staten Island During 1970s Gas Crisis, Former Dairy Queen in Background, 1970s.

#168 Nurses Wave Goodbye as a Bus Carries Sailors Out of Snug Harbor, 1976.

#169 Lifeguards and NYC Parks Department Rake Oil-Soaked Sand of South Beach After a Spill, 1979.

#170 Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale, Originally Developed as a Father’s Day Dessert in 1977, Has Become a Renowned Symbol for Celebrations, 1977.

#171 View from Shore of Shooter’s Island Looking Toward Mariners Harbor, 1977.

#172 Are you heading to the Jersey Shore today? The SIE, 1973.

#173 Owners Mr. and Mrs. Cyrenius Simonson behind the bar at Century Inn, 1977.

#175 Factory Lounge at the Prince’s Bay Trade Mart, 1978.

#176 Flooded Hylan Blvd. and Midland Ave. near Nunzio’s Pizzeria, 1971.

#177 South Shore children on red, white, and blue decorated bicycles ride the Tottenville Flag Day parade route, circa 1970s.

#178 Little League players wave flags during Elm Park 4th of July parade, 1979.

#179 “Still the lowest prices on Staten Island” claim posted at a Stapleton service station, 1974.

#180 Summer-like day in 1976: Kids diving off a Staten Island pier, location unknown, 1976.

#182 Spring cleaning at the historic Rosebank home of pioneer photographer Alice Austen, 1979.

#184 An American flag was unfurled on the Verrazzano Bridge for America’s Bicentennial celebration, but the wind ripped it, 1976.

#185 Did you know that Muhammad Ali visited Staten Island? The champ stopped at the old Paramount Bar and Grill in Stapleton to eat and spar, 1970s

#186 Illegally parked car on Delaware Ave. near North Railroad Ave. in Dongan Hills had no other choice, circa 1972

#187 Flooded Staten Island circa 1975: Red Cross officials prepared to glide down Freeborn St. to get to trapped residents, 1975.

#188 A crane moves into place at St. Joachim and St. Ann’s Church at Mount Loretto, signaling the start of a $600,000 reconstruction project after a fire, 1975.

#189 The Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island’s Astroland Amusement Park, 1970s

#190 Log cabin telephone booth at Richmondtown Restoration is consistent with the theme of the area, 1978.

#191 Joseph Marrozzo inspects Ivory soap at Procter & Gamble’s Staten Island factory, which produced 1 million cases of soap a year, 1976.

#193 Opening of the Staten Island Mall celebration, circa 1973.

#194 PS 28, an Arts & Crafts style school in Richmond, housed the Staten Island Historical Society’s library after the 1970s

#196 Difficulty crossing Shirley Avenue in Eltingville, 1978.

#197 Staen Island’s Fiore Bros. Fuel Oil, a Family-Owned Business Located on LaSalle Street, Mariners Harbor, Circa 1976.

#198 Tidewater Inn in Tottenville, Formerly Known as Cole Mansion, Became Hotel and Bar, Was Demolished in 1980s, 1973

#199 Staten Island Mall Construction with Helicopter Lowering Industrial Air Conditioners, 1974

#200 Richmond College Community Members Marching to Save the College, Unified with College of Staten Island, 1976

#201 Snow Accidents on Staten Island Expressway Due to Incomplete Clean-Up, 1978

Written by Wendy Robert

Brand journalist, Ghostwriter and Proud New Yorker. New York is not a city – it’s a world.

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