Life in Staten Island in the 1990s: Time-Traveling Through Photos of Everyday Life

Step back in time to Staten Island in the 1990s. This was a decade of palpable shifts, from the music booming out of boomboxes to the rise of a local hip-hop empire. The sound of ferry horns blended with the clamor of a community on the edge of transformation. Let’s journey through those distinctive years, filled with cultural upswings, economic challenges, and neighborhood tales.

The Silent Farewell to Homeport

In 1994, the Homeport naval base in Stapleton closed its gates for the last time. This closure was not just an economic blow; it was the end of a chapter in Staten Island’s history. The base had been a stable source of jobs and community involvement, and its closure shook the local economy to its core. But it also opened possibilities for future development, from housing complexes to public parks.

Wu-Tang Clan: An Anthem for a Borough

When it came to music, Staten Island had a distinct voice, and that voice came through the Wu-Tang Clan. Emerging from the Park Hill neighborhood, this hip-hop collective became the unapologetic heralds of Staten Island culture. Their music narrated life in the borough—its challenges, its dreams, and its defiant spirit.

Fresh Kills: From Landfill to New Beginnings

The Fresh Kills Landfill, once the world’s largest dump, was another significant chapter in the 1990s. The decision to close it down in 1996 and transform it into a public park was groundbreaking. Freshkills Park would take years to come into full form, but the ’90s laid the foundation for one of the most ambitious environmental reclamation projects ever conceived.

From Dial-Up to Digital Natives

As in the rest of the world, technology started weaving its way into Staten Island’s daily life. Households exchanged their rotary phones for cordless models, and the iconic sound of a dial-up modem connecting to the internet became a new kind of neighborhood music. Schools started introducing computer classes, allowing the younger generation to become the borough’s first digital natives.

Arcades and Skateboards: The Youth Culture

For young people, te 1990s were a wonderland of cultural experiences. Arcades were sanctuaries where one could master the art of gaming, away from the scrutinizing eyes of adults. The emergence of skateboarding as more than just a hobby but as a lifestyle was another significant youth culture phenomenon. Parking lots and open spaces became arenas for showcasing talent and for community building among the young.

#1 Brooklyn Horns perform at the “Back to the Beach” Celebration, South Beach, 1997.

#2 St. Peter’s Girls’ Basketball Team Holds Archdiocesan Championship Plaque, 1990.

#3 Children in Goodhue Center’s Osborne Day Camp in New Brighton Learn the Tarantella, an Italian Dance, During International Festival, 1995

#4 Great Dane Unhappy to Be Stuck in Traffic in Sunnyside, 1997

#5 Antique Automobile Club’s Annual Car Show at Petrides School, 1997

#6 Throwback Photos of Staten Islanders Who Played Professional Sports, 1991.

#7 Theresa Smyth Reads the Blessing of the Candles at the Model Seder at Temple Emanu-el, 1998.

#8 PS 45, 100th Day of School Celebration, 2nd Grade Class, 1998.

#9 Sal Campanelli helps Khidar Roberson find his new homeroom at Morris Intermediate School in Brighton Heights, 1994.

#10 Filmed on Staten Island: ‘DONNIE BRASCO’, Scene at Great Kills Marina, 1997.

#11 Doug Principato Playing Flute for Crowd at Cafe Verboten, 1998.

#12 Cromwell Center Filled with Friends and Family of the Annual Pinewood Derby Scout Racers in 1995.

#13 Orthodox Jewish Men Dance with Boys Near the Menorah at the Staten Island Mall, 1997.

#14 Dasia Valdez and Angela Olivo Enjoy the 120 Pct. Community Council Christmas Party at Cromwell Center, 1997.

#15 Students from I.S. 27 with Nurse Martha Morrongiello and a newborn baby at St. Vincent’s Hospital, 1995.

#16 B-52’s and VH1 Live Concert at Kreischer Mansion in Charleston, Staten Island, 1998.

#17 Children Waiting for Doors at PS 36 to Open for Summer Reading Program, 1997.

#18 YMCA Camp Counselor Liz Cipoletti Answers a Question at Summer Camp, 1995.

#19 Lemonade Selling by Susan Guariano and Melissa Clark on a Hot Summer Day Near Berry Houses, 1997.

#20 Borough President Guy Molinari Jams at the First Summer Youth Concert at Midland Beach, 1996.

#21 Counselor Kerry Glasgold Gives Campers a Ride on a Tire Swing at the JCC Camp, Circa 1995.

#22 Kelly Symanski and Robert Capofarri Cool off in a Backyard Pool in Port Richmond, 1991.

#23 Fine Day for Fishing, Two Boys at Brady’s Pond in Grasmere, 1997.

#24 Alien Structure Appears on Swinburne Island off South Beach, 1996.

#25 Sedutto Ice Cream Plant at Richmond Terrace in Port Richmond, Closed in 1995.

#26 Navy Personnel Waiting for the Ferry to Manhattan at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, 1990.

#27 VZ Toll Protest at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1992.

#28 Spectators at the SI St. Patrick’s Parade on Forest Avenue, 1997.

#29 First-Graders at Flintstone Bean Bag Toss at St. Rita’s School Kids Appreciation Day, 1996.

#30 Island Skier Makes Her Way Past St. Vincent’s Hospital During the Blizzard of 1996, Staten Island Advance, 1996.

#31 Infamous “Blizzard of 1996” on Staten Island, Record Snowfall, Winter of 1996.

#32 Children at Snug Harbor Cultural Center Accessorized for New Year’s Eve Countdown, 1999.

#33 Santa Claus gives out candy at the Children’s Christmas Party at the Shiloh AME Zion Church, Henderson Ave, 1994.

#34 Dancing Near the Menorah at Staten Island Mall, 1997.

#35 The Richmond County Fair, Pig Race and Fair Details, Staten Island, 1997.

#36 Angel Francia, Michael Vicciariello, Kenny Jobin, and Frankie Vicciariello found deep in their games as the end of summer vacation neared, South Beach, 1994.

#37 YMCA Counselor Malcolm Ford working out with counselors and summer camp kids at YMCA summer Camp, 1995.

#38 Cherryl Mitchell Cools off MS Native New Yorker at Richer Farm, Charleston, 1994.

#39 Meaghan Sarnes and Anthony Conoscenti Win First Place in Contest at Willowbrook Park, 1997.

#40 Fifth graders, Paul Clifford, Jennifer Maceda, and Kerry Thomson jump for joy at Sacred Heart School, West Brighton, 1995.

#41 Joann Castelli hugs school kids as they leave on the last day of classes at Assumption School, which is closing permanently, 1990.

#42 Mets pitcher John Franco signs an autograph for Ashley Frange at the Columbus Day Parade, 1997.

#43 Sister Marie JoAnn Lewko plays jump rope on the last day of school at St. Adalbert’s, 1997.

#44 Smoking a cigarette and having a car on the Staten Island Ferry, September 1996.

#45 Jennifer Arpaia, 3, holds out a crab for her cousins to see in Great Kills, 1995.

#47 K-108 at PS 1 Sends Love Notes, Tee Shirts, and Cards Home to Mom, 1998.

#48 Preschoolers Display Eggs at Tender Care Preschool’s Easter Egg Hunt, 1998.

#49 Aidy Katzman of Willowbrook Reads Passover Prayer, Staten Island, April 3, 1996.

#50 A Mute Swan Wandering on Little Clove Road Is Rescued by Resident Carol Daly, 1990.

#51 The Mighty String Demons Playing a Concert for Valentine’s Day at Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, 1997.

#52 Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon Performs in Front of P.S. 57 for Park Hill Day, 1997.

#53 Long lines at Sam Goody Music store in S.I. Mall, 1994.

#54 Angels on stage during the Christmas pageant at Church of the Holy Child, 1996.

#55 Angela DeSanno and Jean DeGaetano wearing plastic bags to keep out the blizzard, Jan 8, 1996.

#56 Children from Torrah Tots Academy sing during a menorah lighting ceremony at Staten Island Mall, 1997.

#57 Howard Thompkins with Walkman headphones and decorated Jansport backpack, 1990s

#58 Contestants at the Miss Richmond Pageant, Totten Intermediate School, Tottenville, April 7, 1995.

#59 Advance All-star swimmers at the (now-shuttered) Excelsior Grand’s Fountain, 1995.

#60 Who Remembers The Wave? Resin Lead Singer, Angelo Palermo, Jumps into the Mosh Pit, 1999

#61 Mother’s Day Road Race at Clove Lakes Park, 1997.

#62 PS 14 Kindergarten Class Marches During Earth Day Parade, 1996

#63 Sailors Aboard USS America Aircraft Carrier Pass the Statue of Liberty, 1995

#64 April 15th Is Traditionally Tax Day in the U.S., Promoted by Wrestlers in the Past, 1998

#65 Rio Bravo Cantina, Locations at Staten Island Mall and New Dorp, Became Chevy’s Fresh Mex, 1999.

#66 Visitors Enjoying the Passover Holiday at Clove Lakes Park, 1992.

#67 Rabbi’s Youngest Child, Yossi Katzman, Smiling at Passover, 1996.

#69 U.S. Park Police Rescue a Horse from Quagmire in Oakwood Beach, 1990.

#70 Staten Ireland Dancers at the St. Patrick’s Parade, 1995.

#71 Neighborhood Kids Try to Make an Iced Tea Sale, Tottenville, 1996.

#72 The SportsFest complex, New Dorp, knocked down for condos in 2004, 1997.

#73 Members of the Polar Bear Club dip into Coney Island waters, 1991.

#74 South Ferry Change Clerks Keep the Lines Moving for Staten Island Ferry Riders, 1990

#75 Director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Staten Island Lights the Menorah at Staten Island Mall, 1996

#76 Students Decorate a Tree in Egbert Square, Graniteville, December 1994

#77 Swedish Kids Dance Troupe Performs Santa Lucia Pageant at Eger Health Care Center, 1996

#78 Kids at the former Camp St. Edward at the camp’s first annual tree lighting, 1995.

#79 Santa Claus Rides a Harley-Davidson at the Lowriders Motorcycle Club’s Christmas Party, 1994

#80 Eric Vitaliano and President Clinton work the crowd after rally at the College of Staten Island, 1997.

#81 Yankee Catcher Joe Girardi signs Stephen Tompkins shirt at Richmond County Bank, 1996.

#82 Halloween fun with Stefanie Cafaro, Kim Taromina, Andrea Medosa, and Maria De Simone, 1994.

#83 REVCO Held ‘Block Party’ at the Grand Opening of the New Store on Richmond Ave. and Victory Blvd., CVS Acquired REVCO in 1997 and All 14 Stores Became CVS’, 1995.

#84 Antonio Mancilla as Michael Keaton’s Batman, Complete with a Tiny Batmobile and Action Figure, 1990s.

#85 A Worker Installs a Grand Re-opening Sign for the Weekend Celebration at Hylan Plaza, 1995.

#86 Westerleigh’s Gus and Nancy Levoyce Had a Ghoulishly Delightful Wedding Featuring Frankenstein Costumes, 1997.

#87 A member of the Port Richmond High School Marching Band in the Staten Island Columbus Day Parade, 1996.

#88 Two Oakwood teens play handball at Staten Island Technical High School, 1999.

#89 Lenny Cerami hands out “stop the toll hike” flyers at the Goethals Bridge, 1990.

#90 A Power Ranger walks with kids during the Fun Run event in Clove Lakes Park, 1994.

#91 New York Yankees Pitcher Mariano Rivera Jumps into Catcher Jorge Posada’s Arms after Defeating the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the World Series, 1999.

#92 Who Remembers When the War Memorial Skating Rink Was in a Bubble, 1993.

#93 Island Trains, Owner of Island Trains in Great Kills Shows off Electric Trains, 1999.

#94 First day of school, David Chen at Laurie Intermediate School New Springville, 1993.

#95 Children at the Dinosaur’s Alive Exhibit at Staten Island Zoo in West Brighton, 1994.

#96 Perkins Family Restaurant on Hylan Blvd. Opened, First Customers on Opening Day, 1999.

#98 Clove Road and Howard Ave Intersection Flooded with Three-Feet of Water, 1996.

#99 One-Year-Old Timothy Victoria Sleeps Through His First Travis Fourth of July Parade, 1997.

#100 New York Rangers’ Ticker-Tape Parade Celebrating 1994 NHL Championship, Mark Messier Lifts Stanley Cup, 1994.

#101 Kids Dressed to Impress While Making Ice Cream at Historic Richmond Town, 1990.

#102 Christofer and Daniel Paolillo Play with Neighbors Caitlin and Jimmy Kelly in a Pool in Tottenville, 1997.

#103 Pat Brown Leads a Procession Through the Serpentine Nature Commons in Stapleton, 1995.

#104 Children wave flags welcoming the USS Normandy to Stapleton, 1990.

#105 Tractor-trailer flipped on the shoulder of the Staten Island Expressway near Bradley Avenue, 1991.

#106 Tornado touches down on Fremont Avenue in Grant City, 1990.

#107 Tony Brown of West Brighton checks his crab traps at the foot of Victory Blvd. in Tompkinsville, 1996.

#108 Al Pacino celebrated his birthday filming ‘The Donnie Brasco Story’ with Johnny Depp in Staten Island, 1996.

#109 The 7:45 a.m. Governor Herbert H. Lehman Ferryboat loaded with commuters, 1991.

#110 Chinese New Year celebrations at Peking Taste in Greenridge, Year of the Pig, 1996.

#111 In a rare all-Staten-Island matchup, Tottenville Pirates defeated Curtis Warriors in the PSAL Championship game, with a score of 24-22, 1997.

#112 A mysterious photo from Staten Island taken in 1981, with a temperature of 3 degrees, 1999.

#113 Eileen Finley and Joseph Konczynski decorate their tree in Castleton Corners, 1995.

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

#115 Little Angels march into St. Thomas R.C. Church, Pleasant Plains, for Mass and a live-animal Christmas stable, 1997.

#116 Victoria Santiago plays a drum at South Beach to celebrate the Winter Solstice, 1997.

#117 Monsignor Farrell Lions honored at City Hall; Mayor David Dinkins congratulates the athletes, 1991.

#118 Santa Claus, Mitch Marino, picks up his son Joseph at Staten Island Mall, 1994.

#119 Scene from the Wave, Stapleton, with Resin lead singer Angelo Palermo jumping into the Mosh Pit, capturing the energy of the local music scene, circa 1999.

#120 David Jenkins of the Cichon Post commemorates Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance by tossing a wreath aboard the Staten Island Ferry, 1995.

#121 Snapshot of political figures including Bob Dole and George Bush at the Excelsior Grand, New Dorp, reflecting George H.W. Bush’s connection to Staten Island, 1997.

#122 Visit of George Bush to Staten Island in the fall of 1990 to campaign for Susan Molinari, reflecting a moment in local political history, 1990.

#123 Russell Alverson saying his Thanksgiving prayer at Tender Care Preschool, Staten Island, 1997.

#124 Herman’s World of Sporting Goods in the Staten Island Mall closed due to bankruptcy in 1997, Old Navy replaced it, 1997.

#125 Crisco cans on an assembly line at Proctor & Gamble plant, 1978. The factory closed after 84 years of operation, 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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