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A Photographic Tour of Daily Life in Staten Island in the 1980s

The 1980s saw Staten Island actively reclaiming its natural spaces. The Greenbelt, a network of contiguous public parkland, continued to flourish, serving as a sanctuary for nature lovers, joggers, and families alike. Willowbrook Park and High Rock Park were hubs of activity, where you could catch glimpses of deer and birds amid trees and ponds.

The Teen Scene: Hangouts and Malls

The Staten Island Mall was the go-to place for teenagers. Decked out in acid-washed jeans and colorful scrunchies, young Islanders gathered around Orange Julius stands and the dazzling arcade games that seemed to hold the secrets of the universe. The mall was more than a shopping destination; it was a social arena, a place where friendships were solidified, and fashion trends were established.

The Ferry and the Skyline: Everlasting Symbols

For many Staten Islanders, the daily commute involved taking the Staten Island Ferry. With the dramatic New York City skyline in the background, the ferry was more than a means of transportation—it was a ride that encapsulated the grandeur and possibilities of the Big Apple. Every crossing felt like a mini-adventure, as street musicians filled the air with melodies and the Statue of Liberty waved her welcoming torch.

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge: The Lifeline

Opened in the early ’60s, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge had by the ’80s become a symbol of Staten Island’s connection and growth. It wasn’t just a way to get to Brooklyn or Manhattan; it was a lifeline that saw a parade of cars stream in and out daily, signaling the island’s integration with the broader tapestry of New York City.

Little Italy: Flavors and Families

At the heart of Staten Island’s rich cultural scene was its “Little Italy,” especially vibrant in neighborhoods like Rosebank. Family-owned pizzerias, delis, and bakeries flourished, offering mouthwatering cannolis, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant Italian bread. On Sundays, the aroma of simmering tomato sauce filled the air, as families gathered around dining tables for homemade pasta feasts.

Economic Ups and Downs: The Waterfront and Industry

The ’80s also had their share of economic challenges. Staten Island’s waterfront saw a decrease in traditional maritime activities, while new industries were slow to take root. Despite these struggles, there was a sense of resilience and community that pulled people through tough times, epitomized in local movements to revitalize areas like St. George.

Hip-Hop and Rock: The Soundtrack of a Generation

Staten Island was not to be left behind in the music revolution of the 1980s. Venues like The Paramount Theatre played host to both local and internationally renowned acts, contributing to the musical tapestry that included hip-hop, rock, and the new wave. From basement gigs to sold-out shows, music became the soundtrack of a generation finding its voice.

#1 Staten Island Ferry captain, Ted Costa, contemplates the future of the Mary Murray, 1989.

#2 The Cast and Crew of ‘Easy Money’ Outside the L&M Tavern in Concord, 1982.

#4 Patricia Earle and Robert Simon Patrolling in Clove Lakes Park, 1983

#5 U.S. Soldiers Lead Memorial Day Parade in West Brighton, 1984

#6 Richmondtown Family Photo at Richmond County Fair, 1982

#7 Sister Kathleen Sullivan with Students at St. Sylvester’s School, 1989

#8 NYC Transit Strike Halts Service, Some Commuters Bicycled to St. George Ferry Terminal, 1980

#9 Youngsters Enjoying the Water at New Dorp Beach despite Gray Skies, 1985.

#10 St. George-Bound Passengers Watch Holly Fairbank & Dancers on the Staten Island Ferry, 1986.

#11 Blizzard of ’83: Motorist and Two Tots Sliding Down Fort Place in Tompkinsville, 1983.

#13 Lunchtime at PS 45, West Brighton, With Fourth-Graders and Observers, 1981.

#14 Staten Island’s Own David Johansen Performing at an MTV New Year’s Eve Live Broadcast at the Diplomat Hotel in New York City, 1981.

#15 Joseph W. Bishop in his Sandy Ground blacksmith shop, known for forging ornamental iron, destroyed by fire in 1982, 1986.

#16 Thousands of videotapes in Monte’s Video Store, Castleton Corners, 1985; Jane Monteforte and Nivia Albarran at Monte’s Video Store, 1983.

#18 Tug of War Champs Show Strain at Stapleton Street Festival, Winning Team Sponsored by Hugo’s Tavern, Coastal Plumbing Team Loses, 1984.

#19 Class Trip! New Dorp High School Students Learn About Ecology of the Hudson River from Captain of the Clearwater, 1980.

#20 Back to School: Tottenville High School Students Head to Class, 1986.

#21 Voters line up at the Huguenot Reformed Church on Election Day, 1980s.

#23 The 120 Pct. in St. George sheltered an eight-week-old lion cub found wandering near a garage, 1986.

#24 Congressman Guy Molinari Buys a Hotdog from “Skippy’s” in Hylan Blvd., Grant City, 1988.

#25 170-Year-Old Jacob Crocheron Farmhouse Moved to Historic Richmond Town, 1987.

#26 Glenn Christensen Gets the Drop on His Brother Douglas During a Romp on Their Lawn, 1983.

#28 U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps Play at Fort Wadsworth During Tricentennial Celebrations, 1983.

#29 Long Trip Home for Youngsters After a Day at Summer School, Victory Boulevard, 1980.

#32 Sailors on USS Iowa Wave at a Passing Ship During Liberty Centennial, 1986.

#33 Summer Scene at New Dorp Beach; Gateway National Recreation Area, 1980.

#35 Clive Thompson Summer Dance Program on Main Steps, Snug Harbor, 1985.

#36 Cool Kids Under a Sprinkler at a Street Party, 1988.

#37 Fourth of July Parade View Down Forest Avenue, 1981.

#38 Cub Scouts on Their Way to Lake Ohrbach at Pouch Camp, 1981.

#39 Mickey Burns and Company Perform at Great Kills Park, 1985.

#40 Travis Parade Queen Dawn Filipowicz in Travis Fourth of July Parade, 1980.

#41 Beachland Amusement Arcade at South Beach at Dusk, 1983.

#43 Curtis High School Marching Band in the Memorial Day Parade on Forest Ave., 1988.

#44 Notre Dame Coach Doc Purpura Gets Dunked by Team, 1987.

#45 The 50th anniversary of the opening of the Bayonne Bridge marked with a five-mile foot race, 1981.

#46 A 1980 transit strike in New York City halted service; commuters bicycled to St. George Ferry Terminal and Islanders formed a line at Mariners Harbor to catch a ride with a private bus firm, 1980.

#48 Huguenot girl selling hubcaps in front of her home, 1984.

#50 New York Mets’ Mookie Wilson Signs Autographs for Fans at PS 57, 1988.

#51 Three Mohlenhoff Family Members Worked in a Greenhouse at Their Wholesale Plant and Florist Business, 1985.

#52 Katherine Hepburn Puts on Makeup During Filming of “Grace Quigley,” 1983.

#53 Customers Wait Outside a Port Richmond Grocery Store to Buy Lotto Tickets, 1985.

#54 Tottenville High School Sports Team Member Accepts a Donation, 1986.

#55 Staten Island Ferry Commuters Enjoy a Performance by the Charles Moulton Dance Troupe, 1985.

#56 Mayor Edward I. Koch and Ralph J. Lamberti at St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 1986.

#57 Miss Hibernia, Eileen Barry, at Staten Island St. Patrick’s Parade, 1981.

#58 Antique Vehicles at St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Forest Avenue, 1986.

#59 Demonstrators Support One-Way Toll on Verrazzano Bridge, 1986.

#60 Reverend Jesse Jackson Shakes Hands with Supporters in Stapleton, 1988.

#61 Ritz Super Rink in Port Richmond Busy in the 1980s.

#62 Graniteville Youngsters Burrow into Mound of Snow, 1985.

#63 First Face-Off of the New Year, Hockey Game at Martlings Pond, 1984.

#64 Idyllic days at Spanish Camp in Annadale: seaside getaway for Manhattan’s Spaniards; demolished in 2002, 1985.

#65 Postal Workers Sort Christmas Mail at Main Post Office on Manor Road in Castleton Corners, 1984.

#66 Shoppers at Staten Island Mall in Search of Christmas Treasures, 1985.

#68 Councilmen admire a sign celebrating the return of the hostages from Iran, Jan 30, 1981.

#69 Farrell High School marches in Columbus Day Parade in Port Richmond, Oct 8, 1983.

#70 Weissglass Dairy horse-drawn wagon in Dutch colonial costumes, celebrating 300th Anniversary, 1961.

#71 Vocabulary Lesson with Second-Grade Students at St. Rita’s School, Meiers Corners, 1981.

#72 New Dorp High School Students on the First Day in the New Building, September 1982.

#73 First Day of Classes at PS 57, Clifton, with City School Chancellor Nathan Quinones, 1984.

#74 Director Martin Scorsese Walks with Eugene Bregula in Staten Island Developmental Center during Filming of “Goodfellas,” 1989.

#75 Children in the Wading Pool at Berry Houses, Dongan Hills, Staten Island, 1980.

#76 Filmed on Staten Island: “Easy Money” Scene Involving Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe, New Dorp, Eltingville, and Grasmere, 1983.

#77 Members of the Rolling Stones Celebrate Film Opening, Charlie Watts’ Passing, New York, 1983.

#78 John Pacifico Makes a Call During Storm, Staten Island, September 1985.

#79 A stroll down memory lane, how the Staten Island Mall looked following renovations in the 1980s.

#80 Clive Thompson dancers perform aboard the Staten Island Ferry, 1988.

#81 Neighborhood kids turn a parking lot into a hockey court, Willowbrook, 1989.

#82 Gang rivalry on Staten Island in the 1980s and early 1990s, a concern but never reaching other city levels. Circa 1980s

#83 The Queen of Travis, Travis Parade Queen Dawn Filipowicz, 1980.

#84 Duke Snider Signs Autograph at Staten Island Mall, 1988.

#85 Bringing in new tech, 1980’s style, Fourth grade student Paige Gansler plays a math game at P.S. 16, 1980s.

#86 Tottenville High School students jam the Huguenot Staten Island Rapid Transit station, September 1981.

#87 Video High, the club for the under 21 crowd in Great Kills, photo taken in November 1985.

#88 Memorial Day Parade Marcher Joseph McShane Shifts Flag Caught in the Wind, 1985.

#89 Basketball and Soccer on Ramona Avenue in Huguenot, Circa 1980.

#91 Customers Queue up at Ralph’s Italian Ices in Port Richmond, the Original Location, 1985.

#92 Garfield and the Easter Bunny at Staten Island Mall, March 16, 1985.

#93 Lenny Dykstra Poses with Children at Penny’s Department Store, Staten Island, June 14, 1989.

#94 The Honeycomb, a basement area in the Staten Island Mall, used by vendors, 1980s

#95 Marquee of the soon-to-close Lane Theater, featuring “Heartbreak Hotel,” October 1988.

#96 Assistant Captain Cruz guiding the S.I.Newhouse toward St George terminal, September 27, 1987.

#97 Stapleton artists painting over graffiti at Scott’s Little Acre, Staten Island, August 6, 1985.

#98 What do you find more interesting: the graffiti, the boom box, or the guy’s white shoes? The NYC Subway, 1985.

#99 Women who made a difference: Dorothy Day, socialist turned Catholic missionary, co-founder of Catholic Workers, opened soup kitchens and communal farms, died in1980.

#100 Photo Shows 16 Trees Planted to Give Staten Island Mall an “Outdoor” Atmosphere, 1981.

#101 Touch of Class Motorcycle Club Headquarters Located in Port Richmond, 1983.

#102 Greg Pedro Helped Lead St. Peter’s High School to the 1983 CHSAA City Championship, 1983.

#103 Flashback to Forest Avenue St. Patrick’s Parade in 1984; Irish Setter “Brandy” and Parade Cancellation Due to COVID-19, 1984.

#104 The crew tries out the new playground on Grandview Avenue near Mariners Harbor Houses, 1985.

#105 Polar Bear President Alexander Mottola enjoys winter sun after swimming in Coney Island, 1987.

#106 People line up to return or exchange Christmas gifts at Kay Bee Toy and Hobby Shop, 1982.

#107 Janet Low & Maureen Campbell decorate a Christmas tree at Historic Richmond Town, 1984.

#108 Steve Pedersen shows Mary-Jo Roberts the sign at the Fifth Avenue Card Shop in Staten Island Mall offering free Christmas cards for hostages, 1980.

#109 Shoppers at the Staten Island Mall on Christmas Eve, 1985.

#110 Students from St. Rita’s and St. Teresa’s schools decorate evergreens in Castleton Corners, 1982.

#111 Lunch Workers Ready Food for Hungry Children at PS 16, 1980.

#112 Foot Traffic at the St. George Ferry Terminal During the Transit Strike, 1980.

#113 Hurricane Gloria Downed Trees on Guyon Ave. in Oakwood and Liberty Ave. in Dongan Hills, 1985.

#114 Crooke’s Point, named after John J. Crooke, a silver miner who settled in Great Kills, circa 1987.

#115 Shoppers resting under a live tree in a park-like atmosphere indoors, 1981.

#116 Staten Island Mall fountains that misted nearby escalators, 1981.

#117 Mickey Mouse made his debut on Nov. 18, 1928; Mayor Koch welcomed him and Minnie to NYC, 1985.

#118 Walking Through Flooded Cortelyou Avenue, July 1988.

#119 Steckman’s store in Stapleton with owners Martin Gevarter and Joel Gevarter, closed in 2002 after 70 years, 1980.

#120 Fourth-Graders Pick Up Their Lunches in PS 45, West Brighton, Observed by Elizabeth Cagan and Dr. Robert H. Waldman, 1981.

#121 Fighting a Brush Fire on Hunter Avenue and Seaside Boulevard (Now Father Capodano Boulevard), Midland Beach, 1986.

#122 “Slim” Jim Hayes Successfully Defended His Title as Beer Drinking Champ Against Challengers at the Richmond County Fair, 1983.

#123 New York Yankee Dave Winfield leads Curtis High School band, 1984.

#124 Mookie Wilson waves at Met fans at the 1986 Ticker-Tape Parade, 1986.

#125 Waiting for the Skating Rink on Main Street to open in 1979, and the rink in 1989; What was your favorite roller skating rink?, 1989.

#126 Officials inspect a car hanging over a chasm after a road collapse, near Page Avenue bridge, 1982.

#127 Penneyfeathers, located on New Dorp Lane during the 1980s

#128 Whoopsie’s Diner, popular eatery located near Richmond Terrace in Port Richmond, closed in 1984.

#129 Crowd lines up at Lane Theater in New Dorp for “Dead Poets Society,” 1989.

#130 Staten Island Met fans board the ferry for Manhattan and the ticker-tape parade; the sign reads “McKee Seagulls love the Mets,” 1986.

#131 Protesting the Establishment of a Navy Home Port in Stapleton, Four Arrested, 1989

#132 Last Day of School Celebration at PS 4 in Charleston, 1983

#133 Who Had a Drink or Two at the Choir Loft? Stapleton Watering Hole Was Open for Business, 1977-1997. Picture is from 1980s

#134 Mother and Prairie Dog Pup, Staten Island Zoo, 1983.

#135 Police Academy Graduates, Including 400 Staten Islanders, Madison Square Garden, 1982.

#136 Victory Lanes Bowling Alley Sign and Columbian Lyceum Bowling Lane, Staten Island, 1986.

#137 Fourth of July Parade, Travis, Staten Island, Rain-Soaked Marchers, 1981

#138 Grand Opening of ShopRite Supermarket in Former Korvettes Building, New Springville, Staten Island, 1982

#139 Sesame Street Regulars Filming in Clove Lakes Park, 1983

#141 Staten Island Girl Scouts Celebrate 75th Anniversary with Balloon Launch, 1987.

#142 Archbishop John J. O’Connor Wears Cowboy Hat, Presented by St. Charles School, 1984.

#143 Stapleton Store of a Million Items – Owner Gregory DiBenedetto Poses Outside the Store, 1980s.

#145 Hundreds gathered to dance at the Staten Island Veterans Memorial Sports Complex, Miller Field, 1987.

#146 Santa’s Village Comes Alive at the Staten Island Mall, 1985

#147 Phil Simineri rides down Armstrong Avenue, Great Kills on a float, 1989.

#148 Last-minute shoppers at the Staten Island Mall during Christmas season, 1980.

#149 Vernon Turner, first player to return a punt for a touchdown for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1984.

#150 Ingrid Michaelson with Corinne Troiano at Touching the Arts Summer Program, 1984.

#151 Managers Arthur Salvatore and George Georgio in Front of Lane Diner, New Dorp, 1983.

#152 School’s Out at P.S. 29, Castleton Corners, 1983.

#153 Computer Consultant Tom Braniff Prioritizes Clients’ Needs, 1984.

#154 The 120 Pct. in St. George became a temporary shelter for a lion cub found by city housing police officers, 1986.

#156 A shaggy horse spotted alongside the Staten Island Expressway, April 1989.

#157 The Tottenville High School Marching Band heads south next to the FDR Drive in Manhattan, 1985.

#158 Workers install part of the Staten Island Vietnam Memorial at the Manor Road Armory, May 1988.

#160 Joe and Pat Pappalardo stand in front of the iconic Castleton Corners pizzeria bearing their names, 1989.

#161 U.S. Army Band in Columbus Day Parade on Port Richmond Avenue, 1985.

#162 A clammer rakes the bottom of Raritan Bay, rich in shellfish, circa 1982.

#163 Astronaut John Glenn pilots the Staten Island Ferry while campaigning for president, 1983.

#165 Reconstruction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk in South Beach, 1983.

#166 Arthur Klages shows off a pet macaw in his New Springville home, 1987.

#167 Staten Island Advance reporter gauges the depth of a debris-littered hole with onlookers, location unknown, 1987.

#168 NYPD Emergency Services Unit officers in a mock rescue exercise on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1987.

#169 Staten Island’s Motorcycle Club, Touch of Class, 1983.

#170 Former Demyan’s Hofbrau, Destroyed by Fire, Became The Caves, Prior to 1980.

#171 The Splashing Is Great at Wolfe’s Pond Park, 1980.

#173 Driver George LeBlanc Shows Off His Trophies from Weissglass Stadium, 1986.

#175 Monte’s Video Store in Castleton Corners with Thousands of Videotapes, July 1985; June 1983.

#176 Michael Hazard Uses “New” Apple Computer at St. George Library, 1983.

#177 Turtle Race, Major Event at the Richmond County Fair, 1980.

#178 Couple Strolls Among Bathers at South Beach, Circa 1986.

#179 Anthony Contessa, John, and Vincent Adragna Fish Off a Staten Island Beach, 1980.

#180 A Special Treat for Many on Staten Island Was to Take a Dip in Tottenville Pool, 1981.

#181 Customers line up outside Ralph’s Italian Ices in Port Richmond, 1986.

#182 Staten Island Girl Scouts celebrate 75th anniversary with balloon launch, 1987.

#183 Just another typical day on the Staten Island Ferry; Big Apple Circus trainer Ben Williams puts Anna Mae through her paces, 1982.

#184 Members of the New York Institute of Martial Arts gave a demonstration at Historic Richmond Town, 1982.

#185 Youngsters don’t seem too concerned with the fact that swimming is illegal in the Silver Lake Reservoir, 1983.

#186 Kids took advantage of a warm day to shoot hoops on Ramona Avenue, Huguenot, 1980.

#187 Staten Island Allstar Rockers perform in the Stapleton club on Wave Street, 1984.

#188 Opening Day of 1986 Mets Ticker Tape Parade with Daryl Strawberry’s car on Broadway, 1986.

#189 Dirt bikers found places to ride on Staten Island, including a lot in South Beach, 1982.

#190 Long wait to buy a lottery ticket at the Honey Bee Video Store, Graniteville; the prize was $45,000,000, 1988.

#191 Two hockey players on a frozen pond near West Shore Expressway in Charleston, 1980.

#192 The best football program on Staten Island during the mid-1980s to 1990s was Susan Wagner, which won six PSAL city championships and frequently reached the title game, 1987.

#193 In 1980, it was so cold you could walk onto Great Kills Harbor, 1980.

#194 The FDNY shares photos of a 2nd alarm fire in West Brighton, illustrating the aftermath of the incident on North Burgher Ave, 1980.

#195 David Johansen performs at Wave Street, Stapleton, 1980.

#196 The DeSantis family’s candy store in Rosebank, 1984. A 36-year unnamed business, frequented by many, 1984.

#197 The Honeycomb, a flea-market in the Staten Island Mall, 1980s

#198 Demyan’s Hofbrau was a favorite spot in Stapleton, founded in 1853, destroyed by fire in 1980

#199 Madonna Sang on Staten Island: The Video for “Papa Don’t Preach” Featured a Shot at Liedy’s Shore Inn, New Brighton, 1986

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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