1. Tell us you’re “sorry” when we say we’re from Staten Island.
I didn’t just tell you my grandmother died. You’re not sorry, you’re condescending. Staten Islanders are proud of where they’re from. Some families have lived here for generations.
This isn’t a place that you move to because it’s sexy. It’s a place people move to in order to make a home, or to maintain the quality of life they had in Brooklyn or other parts of New York City before they became too expensive for poor or middle class New Yorkers to live in.
2. Tell us we’re not part of New York City, or that we only “semi-count.”
Seriously? What the fuck? Like Elmhurst or Marine Park is so much more cosmopolitan? There are nearly half a million people who live on Staten Island. The first Dutch settlement was established here in 1624, 20 years before there was one in Brooklyn.
In fact, Staten Island became part of New York City the same time as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx in 1898. Over 200 Staten Islanders were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, but we only semi-count? Whatever.
3. Add to the traffic.
Ask a stranger if they have ever visited Staten Island and they may very well reply, “I think I drove through it once.”
To many, Staten Island is nothing more than a stringy series of highways that connect Brooklyn and the rest of Long Island to New Jersey. And all these interstate travelers and commuters mix daily with school buses and three-car households and the result is crippling traffic. So if you’re going to drive through here, at least get out of your damn car once in a while and get to know this place.
4. Ask us, “What’s that smell?”
First off, the Fresh Kills landfill — one of the few manmade objects visible from space, and Staten Island’s infamous claim to fame — has been closed for almost 15 years. And second, after it closed it was where they transported the debris from the Twin Towers so we could continue to search for the remains of our fallen fellow New Yorkers.
Now it’s being converted into one of New York City’s largest parks. So enough with the “What’s that smell?” comments already!
5. Be a tourist on the ferry.
Every regular commuter likes to think they have their own personal seat, and you are ruining their commute by sitting in their favorite chair.
We are also bemused by the tourists who flock to the west side of the ferry, nearly tipping the boat in their frenzy, to snap a picture of the Statue of Liberty while neglecting the east side of the ferry with its expansive views of the Verrazano Bridge, the Brooklyn waterfront, and Governors Island. But the worst thing you can do is just take the ferry back and forth and never give a second thought to exploring the rest of Staten Island.
6. Say there’s nothing to see or do in Staten Island.
Look, if you’ve only got 48 hours in NYC, then maybe you should use that time to knock Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and all the other “must see” tourist destinations off your list. But if you call yourself a New Yorker and you’ve never seen Staten Island except through the windows of a moving vehicle, well, that just sucks.
Staten Island has a vast park system which includes miles of beaches, woodlands, and salt marshes which are home to an amazing display of biodiversity including rare trees, endangered flowers, herds of deer, wild turkeys, and more.
Historic Richmond Town is a living museum complex that relives 350 years of history and culture. We have our own minor league sports team, the Staten Island Yankees, who play in an amazing waterfront ballpark. There is the Alice Austen House, a tribute to the great, early female photographer. Then there’s the Chinese Scholar’s Garden in the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, a Tibetan art museum, and even a zoo.
And yes, like everywhere else in New York City, we have great pizza and bagels, which are usually better than the generic knock-offs made in Manhattan.
7. Forget about us.
If you really want to know what pisses off a Staten Islander, you’ve got to be familiar with ‘middle child syndrome’. Yeah, we know: mommy loves Billy better. Billy gets all the good stuff and the baby gets all the attention. That’s us. The core of the Staten Island psyche is to believe we are the “forgotten borough,” because, true or not, we believe our sibling boroughs get more of everything.
So while we may have fewer bottomless brunch joints and more registered Republicans than the rest of “The City,” don’t piss us off by insinuating we’re not real New Yorkers. When the rent gets too damn high in Greenpoint and LIC, Staten Island might be one of the few places left where born and raised New Yorkers can actually afford to live.