Staten Island(Staaten Eylandt its Dutch given name meaning “States Island”), it’s that far away place no one goes to visit without a very specific reason. I wanted to see, shoot and be somewhere different, without leaving the state. Staten Island seems like a good place to start.
People didn’t have very much to say about a place you gotta take a boat to get to, except for the fact, that it has the best Italian food. You know its real when a local tells you, “You have to have a reason to visit such a place”. I don’t know why that made me, even more, intrigued to see what goes on over there on the other side. It felt like I was taking a trip to Jersey which is no beef, just feels different when crossing state lines almost like taking a boat to get to another borough. Well, this is the story of the time my friend and I took a trip to Staten Island.
We took the train to Manhattan and got off at Wall Street and walked down by the water. We approached the Governor’s Island Ferry and then the Staten Island Ferry. When we walked inside, it looked almost like a mini airport. We took the escalators upstairs to where a large group of people were waiting to board the boat. It was weird because it reminded me of Penn Station when you’re waiting for them to post the time and the track-number so you can run and get slightly trampled as people run toward the train. I was waiting for the very same thing to happen but it didn’t. Not even close, there was an actual smooth flow of traffic.
The ride came with a beautiful view of the city, as we passed the Statue of Liberty. Tourists gathered to get a picture, that was probably the biggest excitement of the ride. We exited after docking the island. It once again reminded me of an airport. It had those kinds of shops and even a welcome to Staten Island sign with huge statues of liberty for purchase. I didn’t really have a destination, just wanted to take in the scene but honestly, it was really hard to find one.
One of the things I noticed was how quiet it was, like damn near eerie. It was a beautiful day in New York which New Yorkers typically don’t waste inside. We appreciate warm and nice days. However, it wasn’t like that here at all, shit I didn’t even see any of the people we took the boat with, they scattered rather quickly. We walked a few blocks before we saw some life outside of cars on major roads. It was so quiet that we started a game where we counted the number of people we saw walking around. It increased in the end but it definitely took awhile.
My goal was to talk to people in the neighborhood to get their perspective of the island. There was a guy standing outside of his apartment building chatting with another life form on the planet of Staten Island. I stopped the guy as he was entering his building and learned he had lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years, I thought, okay, this is great! He would be an awesome person to ask some questions about Staten Island but he really wasn’t a man of many words. I asked if he had any suggestions for places to go in the area or anything touristy to do and he named Pronto Pizza and that was it. Before I could ask anything else, he quickly retreated inside.
After much exploring, we came across more life forms and shops in the area. One shop reminded me of a super old school pizzeria like “Do The Right Thing” style even with the prices to match. Visually it reminded me of a town in Westchester, close-knit small and spread out. I felt like a tourist in my own state. It almost felt like people could tell we weren’t from Staten Island like how we peep transplants in New York.
We decided maybe we just weren’t in the right parts. We didn’t travel that far into the island.