Enjoy The Last Stay-cation Of The Year Touring Staten Island's Freshkills ParkIMMEDIATE
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Take a tour of Freshkills Park and make a day trip to Staten Island, with itineraries provided by the Parks Department for public transportation users that can be adapted by drivers. A massive transformation is taking shape at Fresh Kills Landfill, where the Parks Department is turning the site into one of the largest parks in the city and a testing ground for sustainable technologies and infrastructure. If you haven’t visited Freshkills Park this summer, there’s still time!
If you’ve been interested in taking a tour, but haven’t known what else there was to do near Freshkills Park, once you’ve made the trip over, the day-trip itineraries below can give you some ideas.
The Parks Department outlined “stay-cations” that are easy for those with cars and those without, though itineraries and destinations can, of course, be mixed, matched or approached by bike with the right amount of patience for traffic and an awareness of routes and bus and ferry schedules.
The day trip “stay-cations” provide guides of where to eat, where to find some of Staten Island’s hidden gems and even what times to jump on the ferry or bus to see all the sites.
Attractions include a Freshkills Park tour, the Staten Island Zoo, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and features cheap eats from Tacos La Abuelita, Ralph’s Ices and one of the only Liberian restaurants on Staten Island – Korto’s Place.
All you have to do is sign up for a public tour on the Park’s website, then head out on your adventure!
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Contact: Jama Adams/Trish Bertuccio (212) 360-1311
DAY TRIP – half day
(adopted for public transit users, but can be driven)
Catch the 11:00 a.m. ferry to Staten Island at the Whitehall Station. On the Staten Island side, head up to the bus platform within the St. George Ferry Terminal. To take the Freshkills Park tour, take the 11:45 a.m. Richmond Avenue-bound S74 bus to the Eltingville Transit Center. The tour bus will show up around 12:40 p.m. The tour will launch from the Transit Center, give you ample opportunities to snap pictures of rolling hills and white-tailed deer from the tops of the Fresh Kills mounds, and then return you to the Transit Center. From here, choose your own Staten Island adventure:
Option 1THE CULTURAL
From the Transit Center, head to Ralph’s Italian Ice (501 Port Richmond Ave), a Staten Island favorite, for a cool treat. To get there, catch the Port Richmond-bound S59 bus to Port Richmond Ave & Catherine St. Enjoy your Italian Ice as you walk north along the avenue. Lined with Mexican markets, taquerias and stores selling crucifixes and communion dresses, Port Richmond Ave hosts to the most concentrated Latin-American presence on the island. When you reach the end of the street, at the junction with Richmond Terrace, turn right.
At the intersection of Richmond Terrace and Morningstar Road, catch the St. George-bound S40 bus to Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Check out the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Chinese Scholar’s Garden or the Staten Island Botanical Garden. The facilities may be staffed by teenagers, but the complex is over 200 years old—originally a refuge for “aged, decrepit and worn out sailors.”
The buildings close at 5:00 p.m., when you should hop on the St. George-bound S40 again, take it to Richmond Terrace and Jersey Street, walk south on Jersey Street to New Asha (322 Victory Boulevard) for some tasty eats catering to Staten Island’s growing Sri Lankan population—New Asha is one among six Sri Lankan places within a block’s radius. After you’ve filled your bellies, you can walk back to the Ferry Terminal (head toward the water on Victory Boulevard, then take a left and walk up Bay Street to the Ferry), or get the S62 bus back to St. George at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Van Duzer St.
Option 2THE CHEAP THRILLS
Hungry? From the Eltingville Transit Center, make your way to Tacos La Abuelita (229 Port Richmond Ave) for some authentic, satisfying and affordable ($1-$3 apiece) tacos. To get there, catch the Port Richmond-bound S59 bus to Port Richmond Ave & Harrison St. When you’re done, catch the Bay Ridge-bound S53 bus to the Staten Island Zoo ($7 for adults). The zoo is small, but thanks to its reptile-focused history, it has—brace yourself—one of the largest collections of rattlesnakes in North America! It’s also home to Staten Island Chuck, New York City’s official Groundhog Day forecast rodent.
After all those snakes and groundhogs, maybe you’re ready for a snack. Head north on Broadway to Forest Avenue and take a right. A few blocks down, you’ll find Pasticceria Bruno (676 Forest Ave), where you can fill your face with decadent gelato for a couple of bucks. Savor the creamy goodness as you proceed toward Mandolin Brothers (629 Forest Avenue), acclaimed as one of the best guitar shops in the world. It’s really half store, half museum; the knowledgeable staff can wax rhapsodic about the merits and histories their impressive and archival inventory of stringed instruments. Prices range from the cheap to the astronomic—upwards of $200,000!
By now you’re ready for another food adventure. Nearby, at Forest Ave and Pelton, catch the St. George Ferry-bound S48 bus, and get off at the intersection of Victory Boulevard and Cebra Avenue. Walk off the gelato by heading south on Cebra, then Beach Street, to Bay Street. Up one block, on Prospect Street in what is otherwise a service corridor, you’ll find a storefront that might look closed.
This is Korto’s Place (69 Prospect St.), perhaps the only Liberian restaurant in New York City. Inside and out, it projects as an aging banquet hall and multi-purpose space, but the kitchen serves up tasty rewards for the bold and curious traveler. Sample sumptuous collard greens, okra sauce with rice, fried fish topped bell pepper, onion, and spices, and fufu, a cassava mash that’s standard Central African eating. A generous dish with rice, split between two people, will set you back $5 apiece. When you’re sated, you can either walk a mile up Bay Street to the Ferry Terminal or catch the St. George Ferry-bound S51 bus at the corner of Bay and Prospect.
DAY TRIP – full day
(adopted for public transit user, but can be driven)
Those interested in a full-day trip can pack in even more, but you’ll want to join the 10:00 a.m. tour instead of the 1:00 p.m. tour to kick-start your day. Catch the 8:30 a.m. ferry to Staten Island at the Whitehall Station. Two blocks in front of the Whitehall Station, you’ll find the St. George Farmer’s Market (St. Marks Place & Hyatt Street), operating from July until November. Grab a snack and pack a lunch to enjoy later. Head back to the Ferry Terminal bus platform. To take the Freshkills Park tour, get the 9:09 a.m. Richmond Avenue-bound S74 bus to the Eltingville Transit Center. The tour bus will show up around 9:40 a.m.
When the tour is over, hop back on the S74 bus headed toward Tottenville. The bus will follow the southern edge of the Park site; after a short trip, get off at Arthur Kill Road and Rossville Avenue. Look out toward the Arthur Kill and you’ll come across the incredible sight of tens of rusted, half-sunken carcasses of ships. This is the Witte Marine Salvage Yard, and it’s something to behold. While trespassing into this private boat graveyard is illegal, you can get an eyeful of the ruined, floating heaps from Arthur Kill Road.
When you’ve gawked all you can gawk, catch the next St. George-bound S74 bus, and get off at Richmond Road & St. Patrick’s Place. Walk a few blocks south on St. Patrick’s to Historic Richmond Town, where you’ll find colonial re-enactors and olde-timey craftspeople. Enjoy your lunch on the lawn. From here, walk back up to Richmond Road and turn up(hill) on Lighthouse Avenue. Pay a visit to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (338 Lighthouse Avenue), a replica of a Tibetan monastery unassumingly built into the side of the hill by art collector Jacques Marchais in the 1940s. It’s an unusual Staten Island cultural gem and a testament to offbeat passion projects. Nearby is the only house in New York City designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Ask museum staff for directions, but be respectful—this is a private residence.
Had your fill of culture? Take the evening off by heading to South Beach for a relaxing walk along New York Bay. This trip will require a transfer: first, take the trusty St. George-bound S74 to Midland Ave and Richmond Road, then transfer to the St. George-bound S51 bus and get off at South Beach. A 40-minute trip, but worth it: check out the boardwalk! The sand! The views of Brooklyn and Manhattan across the water! Take your shoes off. Relax.
When you’re ready for dinner, get back on the St. George-bound S51 bus and exit at Bay St and Borough Place. Walk toward the water for dinner at Enoteca Maria (27 Hyatt Street). Sample the tasty offerings of the wonderful Italian women who alternate daily cooking duties and create the day’s menu based on what’s fresh, in season and within their realm of expertise. Your heads reeling from the authentic Italian amazingness, amble back toward the St. George Ferry terminal. Hopefully you’ve had a long but exciting day.
Note: Ferries head back to Manhattan every half an hour on Saturdays until 7:30 p.m., when they go hourly—keep it in mind when planning your evening!
DAY TRIPS FOR DRIVERS
From your point of origin, make your way to the Eltingville Transit Center at the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Arthur Kill Road on Staten Island. The bus for the 1:00 p.m. tour of Freshkills Park will be there by 12:40 p.m. The tour will showcase the grand vistas, innovative infrastructure and emerging ecosystems of the park before returning you to the Transit Center and your car.
From there, swing by Denino’s (524 Port Richmond Ave.) in the Port Richmond neighborhood for Staten Island’s most coveted slice of pizza. Eat-in or take your pie with you to South Beach (Father Capadanno Boulevard & Sand Lane) via the Staten Island Expressway to stroll the boardwalk, relax in the sand and enjoy the view of New York Bay and Coney Island.
THE OLD COUNTRY
Before you catch the 1:00 p.m. tour, make a stop at Golden’s Jewish Deli (245 Richmond Ave., at Yukon). Enjoy an old-fashioned egg cream and a knish or a pastrami sandwich while you sit in the deli’s dining area, situated inside an old train car. Be sure to head down Richmond Avenue to the Eltingville Transit Center by 12:45 p.m. to hop on the Freshkills Park tour bus. Take in the rolling hills and wildlife of the park site while learning about the innovative landfill management systems at work; when the tour’s over, you’ll be returned to the Transit Center.
Complement your visit to the 21st century park site by revisiting some 19th century Staten Island culture. Drive east along Arthur Kill Road to Historic Richmond Town (441 Clarke St.), where you can amble the grounds , visit colonial-era homes, commercial and civic buildings, chat with historical re-enactors about churning butter, even get a lesson in combing sheep’s wool.
If you’re still yearning for the old country and have room for a bigger meal, the Nurnberger Bierhaus (817 Castleton Ave.) is happy to provide. Here you’ll find a dizzying array of wursts, brats and schnitzels and a selection of beers to make you swoon. Designate a driver, and enjoy! Or if beers and sausages aren’t the old country you’re hankering for, try stopping by Pastosa Ravioli (764 Forest Ave) for some gorgeous, homemade antipasti or fresh pasta to take home with you.
THE EARLY RISER (FULL DAY)
Start your day early by picking up breakfast (and lunch) at the St. George Farmer’s Market (St. Marks Place & Hyatt Street), which runs from July until November. Now you’re ready to head out to the Witte Marine Salvage Yard (2453 Arthur Kill Road) to take in the sight of tens of glorious, half-sunken heaps rusting in the morning sun. From here, drive out to Mt. Loretto State Preserve for some more spectacular views: here you’ll find the highest natural bluffs in New York City. You’ll also see fish, waterfowl like egrets and herons, and a host of spiritually suggestive rock sculptures by artist Doug Schwartz (also the Staten Island Zoo’s keeper of Staten Island Chuck, the famous groundhog) along the shore. Enjoy your lunch in serenity.
Around noon, head back toward the Eltingville Transit Center (corner of Richmond Avenue and Arthur Kill Road) for the 1 pm tour of the Freshkills Park site; the tour bus will show up by 12:40 p.m. Once you’ve fully pondered the immensity of the Freshkills Park site, head over to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (338 Lighthouse Avenue), the quirky, fascinating 1940s homage to Tibetan art and culture housing one of the largest collection of Himalayan artifacts in the U.S. Ask museum staff for directions to the nearby house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—the only one in New York City. It’s a beautiful, strange, Japanese-inspired design from 1959 and worth seeing—but it’s a private residence, so please be respectful.
Ready to fill your belly again? Drive northeast on the scenic Manor Road to Victory Boulevard, and then east to Polish Place (19 Corson Ave., just off of Victory). Have a seat in the new dining room or order some take-out from the deli counter : pierogies, blintzes, beet salad or a sausage-enhanced lima bean soup, it’s all here. When you’ve sufficiently carbo-loaded, pile back into the car and bask in the glow all the way home.
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