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Remembering the Forgotten Borough: Finding Refuge in Staten Island

All too often, Staten Island is regarded as "The Forgotten Borough." The purpose of this website is to enlighten residents and outsiders alike that Staten Island has a riveting and noteworthy history. It is little-known, for example, that through the ages, African-Americans have sought refuge on this island, adopting it as their home.

Staten Island’s history is comprised of many significant events that make it a truly unique place. These historical events range from the building of the second longest suspension bridge on the globe to the evolution of the Staten Island Ferry. Through these examples it is evident that Staten Island’s history is, in essence, a diverse and profound collection of noteworthy stories and events that have happened on the so-called “Forgotten Borough” for centuries.

Sandy Ground, a community located on the South Shore of Staten Island, is the oldest free black settlement in America to have descendants of original settlers still living there. Some of these descendants have formed the Sandy Ground Historical Society to ensure the community's rich history is preserved for future generations. Free black Americans sought refuge in the community during the 19th century. Sandy Ground was a place where they could work without having to endure the suppressing segregation laws enforced in neighboring states.

The Park Hill area of Staten Island is home to hundreds of West African immigrants and refugees, many of whom hail from Liberia, a nation founded by the American Colonization Society around the middle of the 19th century to serve as a national refuge, in Africa, for recently freed black Americans. When Liberia's indigenous peoples finally tired of the oppression they faced at the hands of so-called Amero-Liberians, a series of bloody civil wars began, which have defined the small republic since the late 20th century. Staten Island is now home to the largest population of Liberians outside of Liberia, providing refuge for people from both sides of the tragic and brutal civil wars.

The When and Where of Staten Island's History:
Click to orient yourself with a timeline and interactive map.

Remembering the Forgotten Borough: Finding Refuge in Staten Island
Staten Island HistorySandy GroundLiberia and Staten Island