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What Staten Island looked like in the 1990s: A Photographic Journey

Staten Island in the 1990s was a melting pot of flannel shirts, beepers, and the dawning of the Internet age. The ferries cruising into St. George Terminal were crowded with people donning oversized sweaters and listening to the latest grunge hits on their Discmans.

One of the decade’s significant events was the closure of the Homeport naval base in Stapleton in 1994. While it had been a topic of contention in the ’80s, its closure dealt a significant blow to the local economy. Yet, it also opened doors for redevelopment and change, planting the seeds for a waterfront transformation that would blossom in the years to come.

Hip-Hop and Grunge: The Soundtrack of a Generation

Music from this decade echoed through the halls of Staten Island’s schools and the cars cruising down Hylan Boulevard. The Wu-Tang Clan, a hip-hop collective formed in the borough, skyrocketed to fame, echoing the rawness and realness that many Staten Islanders felt. Grunge, too, found its way here, filling basements and garages with the distorted guitars and angsty lyrics that resonated with the youth.

From Landfill to Park: The Transformation of Freshkills

Another monumental shift was the planned closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill, once the world’s largest dump. What had long been an eyesore and a point of civic concern began its transformation into Freshkills Park. The ‘90s set the stage for what would be one of the most ambitious land reclamation projects in history, turning waste into wonder.

The Real Estate Boom: A Double-Edged Sword

The decade also saw a significant uptick in real estate development. The North Shore, especially areas around St. George, started attracting investment. New housing developments sprouted up, and with them came a rising cost of living. For some, this was a sign of progress and prosperity. Yet, others viewed it with skepticism, concerned that gentrification might dilute the borough’s character and displace longtime residents. This real estate boom, while bringing in a wave of fresh faces and possibilities, also prompted a crucial conversation about who gets to call Staten Island home.

Health and Wellness: The Changing Face of Healthcare

The ’90s also marked a shift in healthcare on Staten Island, partially influenced by the nationwide conversation about wellness and preventive care. New hospitals and clinics became more specialized, and discussions about public health took center stage. Programs targeting everything from smoking cessation to diabetes management started to emerge. This was a far cry from the one-size-fits-all approach of the past. It signaled a growing awareness that community well-being was just as critical as individual health, and that a healthier Staten Island was a goal worth striving for.

The Tech Boom and Staten Island

As the world welcomed the age of the Internet, Staten Island saw its own tech boom. Schools started integrating computer labs, and the clang of typewriters slowly gave way to the click of computer mice. Local businesses, too, dipped their toes into this digital frontier, building websites and exploring the untapped potential of the Internet.

Youth Culture: Skateboards and Arcades

If you were a teenager in Staten Island during the ’90s, your weekends might have been spent at the local arcade, fingers deftly maneuvering joysticks and pressing buttons in games of skill and luck. Skateboarding, too, was more than a pastime—it was a culture. Parking lots and schoolyards became makeshift skate parks, the scraping of boards against concrete a distinct sound of the times.

#1 Graffiti removal from the base of the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge, 1990.

#2 Boy Scouts Pack Paper Collected on Staten Island During the “Great Newspaper Drive,” 1994

#3 Staten Islander Dressed as Statue of Liberty in Gay Pride Parade, 1997

#4 Millard Fillmore’s in Travis, Opened in 1986 and Closed in 1999

#6 Mafia Assassination Attempt on ‘Fat Pete’ Chiodo Goes Awry, 1991

#7 Tornadoes on Staten Island since 1990, Including One EF-2 Rating.

#8 Pleasant Plains Memorial, the Bronze Victory Figure Dedicated to Soldiers and Sailors from Staten Island’s Fifth Ward, Reinstalled, 1997.

#10 Motorcyclist Dresses as Santa Claus During the Staten Island Bikers Association Toy Run, 1999.

#11 Santa and Mrs. Claus Arrive and Greet Fans, 1998.

#12 Close Shave as Teenagers Celebrate Halloween Tradition in Midland Beach, 1995.

#13 Lotvin’s Store in Tottenville Founded in 1923, Closed in 1994.

#14 Hundreds of Folks Walking Across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1990.

#15 Sunset Bowling Lanes was a big bowling spot in the borough, opened in 1952 and closed in 1994.

#16 Back when you could drive a vehicle onto the Staten Island Ferry, 1996.

#17 Trolley Train Ride on the South Beach Boardwalk at the Back to the Beach Celebration, 1997.

#18 Meghan McCauley Cools off Under a Sprinkler at the Playground in Clove Lakes Park, 1992.

#19 Lightning Cuts Through the Summer Sky at Manhattan Beach in Tottenville, 1992.

#20 Spanish Camp in Annadale, a Private Beach for City-Dwellers, 1990s

#21 Car Stuck in Puddle at Intersection of Hylan Blvd. and Jefferson Ave., 1996.

#22 The St. George Area Viewed from the MetLife Blimp, Brighton Heights Reformed Church Center-Right, 1990.

#23 Sailors Aboard the Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy Spell out “I Love NY” During Fleet Week, 1993.

#24 Children Play Near Cabins at Camp St. Edward, Staten Island, Opened in 1929, Closed in 2003, 1991.

#25 Smiling OJ Simpson Seen on TV Screens at Electronics Department at K-Mart, New Dorp, 1995.

#26 N.Y. Yankees Phil Rizzuto signs autographs at New Dorp High School, 1990.

#27 Iconic Mickey Mouse Greets Shoppers at the Disney Store in the Staten Island Mall, 1995.

#28 Iconic! The ‘Shine’ Guy Makes His Rounds on a Manhattan-Bound Ferry, Carmine Rizzo Polished Shoes for over 30 Years, 1998.

#29 View of the Manhattan Skyline Shows the World Trade Center, 1994.

#30 Znaida August of Silver Lake Helps Her Sons During the 1996 Storm, 1996.

#32 Michael Fox Helps Tommy Costantino Get Traction After Car Slides Down Hill, 1990.

#35 People line up to return or exchange Christmas gifts at Kay Bee Toy and Hobby Shop in the Staten Island Mall, 1994.

#36 Hundreds gather for the annual Christmas lighting of Dominick Casale’s Great Kills house, and to donate to charity, 1994.

#37 Lauren Gerardi and Carli DeFillo take a peek at the Christmas tree in Richmondtown, 1994.

#38 Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus in front of their castle at the Staten Island Mall, 1995.

#39 Jim Gilhooly is in the holiday spirit at the Manor Road post office, 1997.

#40 St. Christopher’s Church in Grant City was a mail-order building; new church built in 1991.

#41 Twenty-eight bungalows at Cedar Grove Beach Club in New Dorp Beach are left in ruins after a storm, 1992.

#42 Children in traditional costume for St. Clement’s/St Michael’s R.C. Church Thanksgiving Mass, 1996.

#43 Remembering Vic Navarra, coordinator for the start of the NYC Marathon, pictured in 1996.

#44 Hundreds walk across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge for a commercial for Mapfre, a Spanish Insurance Company, 1990.

#45 Buttercake Bakery and ZIPS Ice Cream in a Staten Island shopping center, 1990s.

#46 Secret Service Agents Protect Presidential Candidate “Bob Dole” Following the Mock Presidential Debate at IS 24, 1996.

#47 Todt Hill man escapes garage floor collapse, car drops into cellar, Feb 28, 1994.

#48 John Walsh Posts a New Sign about the New Fare Policy at the St. George Ferry Terminal, 1972.

#49 Last Period of the Day at Port Richmond High School, Early 1990s.

#50 Patriotic Fever, Waving Flags in New Dorp Plaza, Staten Island, February 1991.

#51 Iconic Mickey Mouse at Disney Store, Staten Island Mall, 1995.

#52 Students lining up for summer school registration at New Dorp High School, 1996.

#53 Norman Reedus and Deborah Harry during the filming of ‘Seven Ways Till Sunday’ on Staten Island, 1997.

#54 Lincoln Avenue and South Railroad, Grant City, 1996.

#55 Thursday night at the Hylan Shopping Plaza during an annual summer amateur car show, 1990.

#56 Musicland, located in the Staten Island Mall, closed in 2003. Circa, 1990s

#57 Westbound traffic jam on the Staten Island Expressway, 1995.

#58 Car, driver, and deckhand plunge off ferry; rescue follows, September 19, 1997.

#59 Two Mini-Vans and a Car Stuck in the Water at the Intersection of North Railroad Avenue and Spratt Avenue in Bay Terrace, 1996.

#60 Who shopped at the original JCPenny? Pictured here in its previous Staten Island location on Forest Avenue in Port Richmond, 1990.

#61 When it opened in 1994, the Fun Bubble at 290 Wild Ave. in Travis was the first of its kind on Staten Island; it closed in 2000, Circa 1994.

#62 Tax Day is today, Monday, May 17, this year; but on April 15, 1996, Uncle Sam was recruited to direct traffic at Manor Road post office, 1996.

#63 Frank’s Nursery & Crafts in New Dorp, Staten Island, Previously Called Flower Time, 1990.

#64 Msgr. Farrell Marching band in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 2003, 2004, and 1997.

#65 Staten Island ferry fare history, Anthony Mancino and Robert Massaroni unveiling a sign for the new fare, 1990.

#66 M.C. Tony Daro entertains the crowd at Grampa’s Comedy Club in New Dorp, owned by “Grampa” Al Lewis, 1990.

#67 The Black Garter Saloon, one of several strip clubs on Staten Island, known as “The Grand-Daddy of All Go-Go’s,” closed in 1998.

#68 A Todt Hill man’s narrow escape after his garage floor collapsed, dropping him and his car 15 feet into his cellar, 1994.

#69 Remembering Lenny’s Clam Bar on Hylan Boulevard, Opened in 1977, Closed in 1992.

#70 Afternoone’s, the Old Blaine and Noone’s; Known as the Kettle Black; Previous Incarnations Included the Dilly Dally Club, Greenery, 1990s

#71 Old “Dock Of The Bay” Bar Billboard from the 1990s; Located in Historic Edgewater Hall, Known by Various Names, 1990s.

#72 Bill Jankunis of Midland Beach; First Staten Islander to Jump Seven Feet; Competed in 1976 Summer Olympics; Inducted into Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame, 1996.

#73 The Beachcomber in Annadale Was a Long-Running Restaurant-Catering Hall; Closed in 1994, 1994.

#74 Ivana Trump Signed Autographs in the Staten Island Mall, 1995.

#75 In 1956, First Classes of Staten Island Community College; Merged with Richmond College in 1976; Creation of the College of Staten Island, 1993.

#76 RedSpot! Located at 533 Bay Street, Stapleton; Featured Live Alternative Music; Closed in 1992, 1992.

#77 The Wagner College Seahawks celebrate their championship trophy presentation, 1994.

#78 The Blizzard of ’96 slams NYC, pedestrians share snow-covered Hylan Boulevard with cars in Huguenot, 1996.

#79 Party-goers watch fireworks at Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s New Year’s Eve Celebration, 1999.

#80 “Despite a record high temperature yesterday of 80 degrees, the holiday season was unofficially ushered in,” Nov. 4, 1990.

#81 Advance Reporter Rich Cirillo on a 15-foot mound of snow in New Dorp parking lot, blizzard of 1996.

#82 Infamous “Blizzard of 1996” on Staten Island, resident pushes snow-blower along Columbia Avenue, 1996.

#83 Looking east from Water Street towards Clifton, Staten Island, Nov. 1992.

#84 Redspot at 533 Bay St. was once a funeral parlor and later a hub in the Stapleton bar scene with attractions like backyard barbecue, jugglers, fire eaters, and various celebrity visits; closed in 1992, 1992.

#85 Congresswoman-elect Susan Molinari celebrates her election victory with her father, Guy Molinari, Borough President of Staten Island, March 21, 1990

#86 Haunted Cunard Mansion on Grymes Hill, built in 1852, now part of Wagner College, 1900s

#87 The Staten Island Waterfront Looking West from Bayonne Bridge, 1993.

#88 Video Stores of the ’90s: Blockbuster, Palmer Video, Hollywood Video, and West Coast Video. Circa 1990s

#89 Senator John McCain with Guy Molinari at the Columbus Day Parade, Staten Island, 1997.

#91 Stores in the Richmond Avenue shopping center, including Crazy Eddie’s and Beefsteak Charlies, circa 1997.

#92 The Fingerboard Road Bridge Is Almost Completed, 1997.

#93 Al Pacino on the Set of ‘The Donnie Brasco Story’ Outside of Staten Island Boat Sales in Great Kills Harbor, 1996.

#94 Gov. Andrew Cuomo Announces Indoor Dining in New York City, the Victory Diner in Dongan Hills Is Seen Packed for a Late Night Meal, 1996.

#95 Guy Decatrel and Richard Seve flex their muscles during the bodybuilding competition at the Richmond County Fair, 1990.

#96 Tottenville’s Conference House Park: The Almer G. Russell Pavilion at the foot of Hylan Boulevard, 1998.

#97 F.A.S.T. (Forest Avenue Shoppers Town), T.J. Maxx, Hometown Buffet, what other stores can you make out?, 1996.

#98 When DuBee’s Bar in Tottenville closed, it left behind 63 years of history, including a unique tavern atmosphere and relics like a nine-foot refrigerator, 1998.

#99 Construction at Kings Arms, Forest Avenue, West Brighton, 1996.

#100 Four Bridges Shopping Plaza in Eltingville, 1990.

#101 Worker Installs Grand Re-Opening Sign for Hylan Plaza, 1995

#102 Staten Island’s Abundance of Bars and Nightclubs in the 1990s

#104 The Beachcomber’s History, Annadale, Circa 1960, Closed in 1994.

#105 Heavy Rains Flooded the Entrance to the Richmond County Yacht Club, 1996

#106 Cartoon Universe, a Cartoon-Themed Restaurant in Dongan Hills, Opened 1999, Closed 2001.

#107 Castle Video, Doo Dads Discount Clothing & Gifts on Main Street, Tottenville, 1992.

#108 Who loves row boating in Clove Lakes? The rental rowboats at Clove Lake Park get a weekend workout, 1996.

#109 The Marquee at United Artists Theatres, Travis, Staten Island, 1990s

#110 Al Pacino Celebrates Birthday While Filming “Donnie Brasco” on Staten Island, 1996.

#111 Parade of Ships Heading Towards the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1996.

#112 Aerial Shot of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge from the Main Cables, 1994.

#113 The new SportsFest bubble opens next to Bowling on the Green, New Dorp, 1994.

#114 A Car Flipped over on the Staten Island Expressway, Hanging Precariously over a Railing, July 17, 1990

#115 Foot of Victory Boulevard in Tompkinsville, aftermath of a Nor’easter, 1992.

#116 RZA, Inspektah Deck and Ol’ Dirty Bastard at their new Wu-Wear store in Tompkinsville, 1995.

#117 Stores in Hylan Blvd. Shopping Plaza in Arrochar, Circa 1990s.

#118 Sign at Blue Heron Pond Park in Annadale Reads “Slow” Children and Wildlife at Play, 1990s.

#119 Construction on Forest Avenue in Front of Pathmark, 1996.

#120 Annual Thanksgiving Varsity Basketball: Curtis’ Dwayne Archbold vs St. Peter’s Khalid Nelson, 1991.

#121 A veteran salutes the passing color guard at the American Legion Veteran’s Day ceremony, 1997.

#122 Deborah Franco, Barbara Johnson, Diane Di Salvo at St. Charles School at the War Memorial, Pleasant Plains, Bronze Victory Figure Rededicated on June 8, 1997.

#123 The Tottenville High School Marching Band in the 1995 Columbus Day Parade.

#124 Monsignor Farrell High School marches down Fifth Avenue in the 1997 Columbus Day Parade.

#126 Residents of Tower Lane in Travis endure draining problems, 1995.

#127 Streets surround Sacred Heart Church in a sea of blue saluting fallen Police Officer Luis Lopez, 1993.

#128 A young man enjoys the final official day of summer at Great Kills Harbor, 1995.

#129 Traffic on the Staten Island Expressway Was Bumper to Bumper Most of the Day Due to Construction, 1996.

#130 Eduardo’s Pizza on Port Richmond Avenue Offered Mexican Food in Addition to Pizza Fare, 1991.

#131 Frank’s Nursery & Crafts in New Dorp, Previously Called Flower Time, 1990.

#132 Mounted Park Enforcement Officer Robin Wickert on Patrol in Clove Lakes, 1991.

#133 Vinny Testaverde and Bill Parcells, October 1998, Division Win and Nearly Super Bowl Appearance.

#134 Discarded Boat Left on the Side of Arthur Kill Road, July 1996.

#135 Introduction of E-Z Pass, an easier way to pay tolls, Staten Island Advance, 1995.

#136 Guy Decatrel and Richard Seve flex muscles during a bodybuilding competition at the Richmond County Fair, 1990.

#137 Lucci & Appliances on Forest Avenue at Broadway, West Brighton, a longtime North Shore retailer, 1997.

#138 Proposed 120-foot-diameter clock for Whitehall ferry terminal in Lower Manhattan, criticized as looking like King Kong’s pocketwatch, 1993.

#139 Student from PS 32 exits school bus on a day with only five kids due to the blizzard of ’96, 1996.

#140 Truck Accident at McLean and Lily Pond Avenues, South Beach, 1991.

#141 Drivers Ignore Bus Stop, Forcing Traffic to Merge on Clove Road in Sunnyside, 1990.

#142 Hundreds Pack Westerleigh Park for Alan Quinn Orchestra, Starlight Concert, 1997.

#143 A Bus Navigates Through a Puddle on Hylan Boulevard and Rose Avenue in New Dorp, 1993.

#144 People Line up at Ralph’s Ices in Port Richmond, 1997.

#145 West Shore Stables in Bloomfield, One of Staten Island’s Premier Horse-Riding and Training Facilities, Closed in 1994.

#146 Firefighters Pull Up to Fire, Doberman Wants No Part of It, Gateway Park, 1995.

#147 United Artists Island Theatre Torn Down for Multiplex Theater, 1991.

#148 Polish Tall Ship Dar Mlodziezy Leaves Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Behind During OpSail, 1992.

#150 Bill Moore Enjoys the Sunshine at Great Kills Park After a Ride, 1998.

#151 Blockbuster Video, Hylan Blvd., Grant City, 1999.

#152 Riders rush to the boat at the old Whitehall Ferry Terminal, 1996.

#153 Storm pulls up sidewalk on Arlene Street in Bulls Head, 1998.

#154 Cars driving along Genessee Avenue in Eltingville avoid hitting a tree, circa 1996.

#155 Construction of J.C. Penney’s at Staten Island Mall, circa 1990s.

#157 Aerial view of Snug Harbor, Livingston, circa 1993, 1993.

#158 Aerial view of St. George on the Staten Island Ferry, the Manhattan skyline and Twin Towers in view, 1991.

#159 Even when it’s old, it doesn’t get old! The Staten Island Ferry passes Lady Liberty; the American Legion was delivered in 1965, retired in 2006, 1992.

#160 Jams like this on the Staten Island Expressway have become commonplace over the last decade, 1990.

#161 RedSpot! An art deco nightspot located at 533 Bay Street, Stapleton, famous for live alternative music and visited by various celebrities; closed in 1992.

#162 View of St. George, including the Twin Towers, before the S.I. Yankees and Empire Outlets, 1999.

#163 Who Remembers the News Stand “Shah Stationary” at Staten Island Ferry Terminal, St. George, 1990

#165 History of the Staten Island Ferry Token, Fare Abolished in July, 1997

#168 The Staten Island Ferry Newhouse photographed from above, part of the “Barberi class” with MV Andrew J. Barberi and MV Samuel I. Newhouse, built in 1981 and 1982, known for being the largest licensed ferry at the time of construction, 1993.

#169 A frozen scene in Grasmere, Staten Island, with expectations of temperatures in the 20s, 1999.

#170 An ice-covered bus stop in Egbertville on a day with wind chills ranging from -10 to -20 degrees, 1996.

#171 Repost regarding memories of the infamous Blizzard of ’96, 1996.

#172 Philip Rappo and son Joey Rappo of Westerleigh sleigh ride at LaTourette Golf Course, 1995.

#173 Nicholas Apostolopoulos, 3, attends the Breakfast with Santa Christmas brunch at Applebee’s in New Dorp, 1996.

#174 Snow blankets St. Andrews church in Richmond, a historic congregation founded in 1708, 1995.

#175 Blessed Sunday: Religious stickers adorn a minivan in Stapleton, circa 1997.

#176 A peculiar incident of a submerged truck in Great Kills Park after a failed attempt to launch a boat for repairs, capturing an unusual moment, 1994.

#177 Memory of renting movies at Blockbuster locations in Staten Island during the 1990s and 2000s.

#178 Staten Islanders voting in favor of secession from NYC and state denial, 1993.

#179 A&W was opened in 1956, sold in 1973, operated as A&W until 1994, and is now Za Ra Restaurant, 1994.

#180 Herbert H. Lehman Ferryboat Docking in St. George with the World Trade Center in the Background, 1990s.

#181 “We Remember” banner at a gay rights demonstration against a 1990 killing, Staten Island.

#182 Staten Island Yankees Class A Minor League Baseball, 1999.

#183 Debris from homes on Winfield St. after wind tore off roofs, Staten Island.

#185 Runners on the Verrazano Bridge during the 1999 New York City Marathon.

#186 Bulldozers at Freshkills Landfill, world’s largest landfill, Staten Island.

#188 Fresh Kills Landfill dwarfs Village Green housing, Staten Island, 1990.

#189 Goethals Bridge from Staten Island side looking southwest, 1991.

#190 Manhattan seen from the Staten Island ferry, 1994.

#191 Manhattan viewed from the Staten Island ferry, 1994.

#192 Manhattan skyline including World Trade Centre, from Staten Island ferry, 1994.

#193 Staten Island approach to Goethals Bridge over Old Place Creek, 1991.

#194 Jersey approach viaduct, Verrazano Towers on horizon, Goethals Bridge, 1991.

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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