Graniteville Swamp Park
The Daily Plant : Tuesday, April 29, 2003
SPOTLIGHT ON: GRANITEVILLE SWAMP PARK
This Staten Island park and the surrounding neighborhood, previously known as Bennett’s Corners and Fayetteville, were named for granite – a course-grained, light-colored rock. A quarry, believed to contain this rock, existed in the Graniteville area from 1841 to 1896. Stone from the quarry was used in the construction of the old Christ United (Episcopal) Methodist Church, now the Korean Methodist Church. Unbeknownst to residents until recently, the Graniteville quarry did not yield granite, but a crystallized stone called trap rock.
From the early 1900s to the mid 1940s, Graniteville was made up predominantly of Greek and Italian immigrants. Because of the characteristic flatlands of the area, many families started their own truck and dairy farms, sometimes selling their produce from carts on the side of the road. With the completion of the Staten Island Expressway in 1958, these families had to close down their farms and move to other locations. Our Lady of Pity Roman Catholic Church was located in the immediate path of the highway and was forced to move to Bulls Head. In 1989, much of Graniteville was under construction for the building of the town’s newest housing project. Today, the Graniteville neighborhood consists of one- and two-family homes and town houses. There are several schools in the area, including Moore Catholic High School and P.S. 22, the oldest and largest public school in the neighborhood. Graniteville’s Baron Hirsch Cemetery, one of the two Jewish cemeteries on Staten Island, contains relatives of former Mayor Abraham D. Beame.
Bounded by Goethals Road North, Meeker Avenue, and Morrow Street, Graniteville Swamp Park has been designated an area of protection by the Harbor Herons Wildlife Refuge. It was assigned to Parks by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) on July 7, 1997. An addition to the park was made by DCAS on June 1, 2000. Despite this addition, Graniteville Swamp Park still covers only a fraction of the Graniteville Swamp area. Approximately 45 acres, Graniteville Swamp serves many vital ecological functions, such as recharging ground water, filtering runoff from surrounding areas, storing storm water to prevent flooding, and stabilizing water levels. Parks’s control of this small area within Graniteville Swamp protects an important ecosystem from development and destruction.
Graniteville Swamp is unique because it contains broad expanses of both swamp and upland forest, in addition to marshes and creeks. The woods of Graniteville Swamp include pin oak (Quercus palustris), swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and red maple (Acer rubrum). The forest floor, mostly in areas not protected by Parks, contains trout lily (Erythronium americanum), wild sarsparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), Turk’s cap lily (Lilium superbum), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), and slender blue flag (Iris prismatica). The Parks’s protected Graniteville Swamp Park is mostly marsh, filled with saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and common reed (Phragmites australis), but also contains some swamp forest.
Redwing blackbirds (Agelaus phoeniceus), American woodcock (Philohela minor), and many different species of warbler can be seen soaring through Graniteville Swamp, along with the formerly endangered peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). Muskrats (Ondatra zibethica) race across the ground while spring peepers (Hyla crucifera) sing. The last reported sighting of a mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) in New York City was at Graniteville Swamp. The marshes and creeks attract local herons, egrets, and ibis, as well as migrating birds looking for food and rest. This diversity makes Graniteville Swamp Park a wonderful place to observe the natural world in a protected and undisturbed state.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail."