Tottenville Shore Park

Tottenville Shore Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

The town of Tottenville is located on Staten Island, at the southernmost point of New York City. Tottenville was named for the Totten family, who founded Bethel Church in 1822. Many members of the Totten family are buried in the Church’s cemetery, which is located on the corner of Amboy Road and Bethel Avenue.

A considerable number of Native American artifacts and burial sites have been found in the area, and it is believed that Delaware (or Lenape) Indians originally inhabited this part of the island. In September 1776, a peace conference was held in this area to test the feasibility of establishing a truce between Great Britain and her rebellious colonies. In attendance were British Lord Admiral Richard Howe (1726-1799), Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), John Adams (1735-1826), and Edward Rutledge (1749-1800). The 17th century stone manor in which the conference was held still stands at the foot of Hylan Boulevard. Called the Conference House, it is administered by the Historic House Trust of New York City and the Conference House Association. Founded in 1989, the Trust works in partnership with Parks to enhance and promote preservation and public appreciation of historic house museums on park properties throughout the City.

The Perth Amboy Ferry began service in June 1860, offering passengers steamship service between New Jersey and Staten Island. A ferry slip was located nearby at the foot of Bentley Avenue. The service between Perth Amboy and Tottenville was profitable, especially in conjunction with the Staten Island Rapid Transit rail. Even after 1928, when the Outerbridge Crossing connected Staten Island to New Jersey, the ferry remained popular because it was so reliable. Finally though, in October 1948, the Charles Galloway made the final regular trip to Tottenville for the Perth Amboy Ferry. Over the next fifteen years, the Sun Rise Ferry Corporation provided scaled back operations with smaller boats, but in 1963 that service was canceled as well.

The shipbuilding industry has a long and diverse history in Tottenville. At its peak, around 1900, there were eight shipyards in the town. The largest of these, called Brown, was located across from Ward’s Point off of Hopping Avenue. The others were Ellis, Rutan, Butler, Sleight, Nass, Tracy, and O’Boyle. After the turn of the century, as steel ships became more common and wood construction declined, these yards lost their importance - but only temporarily. During World War I, ship demand increased dramatically, and the Tottenville shipyards benefited in tandem. The Cossey Shipyard, first opened in 1908, was perhaps the most significant. In its 22 years of operation, it produced 1,149 ships.

This parkland is located at Arthur Kill Road, Bentley Street, and Hopping Avenue. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services assigned this parcel to Parks in January 1997. Black cherry (Prunus serotina) and sweet gum (Liquidambar styracifula) trees grow throughout the property. Several black ducks (Anas rubripes), buffleheads (Bucephala albeola), mergansers (Mergus merganser), and brants (Branta bernicla) make their home here as well.

Park Information

Directions to Tottenville Shore Park

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