In 1958, Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt
accepted a job at McKee High School in St. George
and ended up teaching there for 30 years. He later
wrote, "How could I pass up that daily ferry ride,
that skyline, that great sweep of harbor, the
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island -- a daily reminder
of the thousands who had passed through?" While
the ferry ride hasn't gotten any shorter since
1958, the psychological leap for many Manhattanites
is definitely shrinking. This hilly neighborhood
at the tip of Staten Island is filled with affordable,
beautifully restored Victorians and Colonials,
and the ferry is within a three-to-fifteen-minute
walk of anywhere in town. And with a host of big
projects under way, St. George and neighboring
Tompkinsville are finally poised for the renaissance
that has been promised for decades.
New additions Look no farther than right
next to the ferry terminal, where a $79 million
stadium opened in June to house the Staten Island
Yankees. New, higher-end commercial development
has also crept in, but the biggest boon to the
area is the $84 million ferry-terminal project,
which will open in stages over the next three
Meet the neighbors St. George resident
Elizabeth MacDonald, a senior editor at Forbes,
moved in three years ago. "I thought, well, they're
going to be closing the Fresh Kills dump, which
they have," she says. "And they're going to be
building a baseball stadium, which they did, and
so I was just betting that real-estate prices
were going to pop." Her monthly housing costs
(about $1,400) for her three-bedroom home with
a garage and a backyard are about the same as
the rent she paid in Stuyvesant Town. "I'm sort
of still not used to it," she says. "I've lived
in apartments all my life, so I feel like I'm
coming home to my own bed-and-breakfast."
Viewing pleasure Hard-core urbanites who
couldn't care less about having a yard or a finished
basement might be more at home in nearby Bay Street
Landing, two former warehouses that were converted
to luxury apartments. They offer unobstructed harbor
and Manhattan views. While one-bedrooms start at
around $150,000, larger units with wide balconies
now go for as much as $540,000.
ST. PAUL'S AVENUE. Five-bedroom, two-bath
side-hall Colonial, circa 1899, in Tompkinsville.
New hardwood floors, three fireplaces, new
skylights in top-floor bedroom, refurbished
eat-in kitchen. Partial views of New York
Harbor and Brooklyn. Fifteen-minute walk to
Staten Island Ferry. In contract. $264,400.
Prime areas For those looking for historic,
landmark-status homes, the area around St. Mark's
Place and Westervelt Avenue is highly coveted.
The cons While the town is lined with
beautiful turn-of-the-last-century homes, some
have fallen into serious disrepair, marring otherwise
bucolic neighborhoods. And though retail development
is on the rise, you'll need a car.
Schools Curtis High School has made huge
strides in recent years, and it currently has
the lowest drop-out rate of any zoned public high
school in New York City, but it operates at 156
percent of capacity. Many residents pass on the
local elementary school, P.S. 16, and opt for
one of several private schools, including Trinity
Lutheran in Tompkinsville.
The commute The ferry is a 25-minute free
ride that runs 24 hours a day. Total commute time
from St. George to midtown runs 45 minutes to
Best brokers Norma Sue Wolfe at Gateway
Arms Realty (718-273-3800) and Charles Auer at
Vitale Sunshine Realty (718-979-3333).
the September 17, 2001 issue of New York Magazine.
by Sean Hemmerle. Maps by BRM.