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Forgotten New York was the first-ever recipient of Outstanding New York City Website by the Guides Association of New York City in March 2015! Todt Hill, Staten Island’s 412-foot tall mountain, is in the center of the borough and is at once wild, wide-open and untrammeled and manages, at the same time, to be one of Staten Island’s most exclusive and expensive areas…for people on both sides of the law.
We begin at the NE corner of one of the busiest intersections in Staten Island, two colonial highways, Victory Blvd.
On the NW corner is a former gas station that stands atop the Old Clove Baptist Church Cemetery, established in 1809; it was becoming ovegrown by the 1890s and all but obliterated by the 1970s. Think Sunnyside and you would ordinarily think Sunnyside, Queens, but Staten Island has its very own Sunnyside south of Clove Lakes Park along Victory Blvd., named for a former roadhouse at the corner of Victory Blvd. Robert Breen was a local athlete who passed away at the young age of 16; a shrine can be found at Victory Blvd. Just as Arne Saknussemm of Jules’ Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth left Runic characters to mark his way for future explorers, the NYC Parks Department leaves “blazes” to mark the way for the interepid explorers of its wilderness areas. Little Clove Road becomes Windsor Road; where it intersects wide Slosson Avenue, we begin our lengthy trip up Todt Hill.
An intriguing transformation occurs at Fine Boulevard, where Slosson Avenue is also intersected by a narrow lane trickling in from the northwest. Todt Hill Road’s sidewalks drop away once you get south of Tillman Street and the local routes have no sidewalks and no shoulders to speak of. Just past the busy intersection of Todt Hill Road and Ocean Terrace is what Staten Island pathfinder Bruce Kershner calls “Highest Point Pond.” It’s one of many kettle ponds in the area left over by a retreating glacier at the end of the last ice age. At Merrick Avenue you will find a pipeline conduit that leads to The Summit, a 412-foot (or 409, depending on your source) height that is actually the highest point along the East Coast south of Maine.
At the southwest corner of Ocean Terrace and Todt Hill Road, the Blue Trail, marked by blazes, winds northeast past high hills made of serpentine stone. I had thought I had found some old-style NYC park benches…but it looks like these are original to the seminary. In 1895 Cropsey painted the view of New Dorp, Raritan Bay and the New Jersey Highlands (“Looking Oceanward from Todt Hill”) then obtainable from Todt Hill, which unfortunately doesn’t turn up online…but can be found in the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences in St.
Find an almost-unmarked pathway called Helena Road that drifts off to the west from Todt Hill Road just south of the Stone House. Don’t mind the “private” and “no trespassing” signs; they are there mainly to protect yet another radio tower that is just ahead. This is the same view Jasper Cropsey had when painting “Looking Oceanward from Todt Hill”, with, of course, the addition of the Richmond County Country Club in the foreground. I watched my father build those benches at st francis in the mid 1930s he was the night watchman.
Though Todt Hill may be one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, it is a very private and friendly community. The hill itself is the highest point of elevation in New York City, being 410 feet above sea level. However, the old cemetery’s presence explains why Clove Lakes Park doesn’t occupy the space.
Queens’ Northern Boulevard is one of the lengthiest roads in Long Island and, as Route 25A, reaches all the way to Orient Point at the tip of Long Island’s North Fork.
The “Moses Folly” (see below) Blue Trail appears to have been rerouted, for now, along Little Clove Road, which skirts Staten Island Expressway.

It’s likely that Slosson was widened when the Clove lakes (now staten Island) Expressway was built in the early 1960s. This is Todt Hill Road, which parasitically assumes Slosson’s route and charges up the hill, pedal to the metal.
So, a walk up or down Todt Hill Road between Tillman Street and Richmond Road, or most of its length, means dodging some very busy auto and truck traffic –and the road bends and turns often.
Eventually you will end up at the abandoned ramps that were supposed to connect the Staten Island Expressway to”Moses’ Folly,” what was going to be an extension of Richmond Parkway (now Korean War Veterans Parkway) which ends at Richmond Avenue and Arthur Kill Road. Tillman Street at Townley and Motley Avenues was originally going to be the Richmond Parkway service road. No, since I didn’t feel like macheteing my way through the brush and then tweezing off the ticks after I got home.
The story goes that while traveling with friends he happened upon an unusual number of birds in the trees along the road.
The two-handled Greek vases are favorite depictions in art; a number of them even turn up in terra cotta decorations in the older IRT subway stations like Astor Place (below). With its stone-wrought exterior it resembles Brooklyn’s re-created “Old Stone House” as well as the Valentine-Varian House in Norwood, Bronx, and may be of similar vintage. He became one of the greatest landscape artists of the Hudson River School, while he depicted locales all along the east coast, including the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The book states that Todt Hill was first called "Yserberg", which translates roughly to "Iron Hill", because of Dutch influence. We listed our home on several real estate for sale by owner websites, until one day we had an open house. All alone in a field stands the John Frederick Smith farmhouse at 1213 Clove, owned and restored by Dorothy Valentine Smith, who also occupied the adjoining John King Vanderbilt House at 1197. The Vanderbilt family was attracted to this former fox hunting grounds early and constructed several homes in the area in the 1840s, including the two cited above. Ice harvesting and pumping of spring water were prominent industries in Sunnyside in the 19th Century. Staten Island’s Northern Boulevard, though, runs only about 4 blocks…though its width suggests that perhaps, it was meant for greater things.
The radio tower, transmitting WSIA 88.9 FM of the College of Staten Island at the summit is one of a few in the area. Fortunately many parts of the road do have clearings on the side where you can duck when things get heavy. As with so many other NYC locales, though, the Bridge and Tunnel Club has already been there. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) has been called the most beloved Catholic saint, and representations of him are certainly the most recognizable (other than, perhaps, St. We’re entering the exclusive, walled-off part of Todt Hill, especially on Benedict, Circle and Willow Pond Roads.
I had thought it was the Abram Burbanck homestead (built in about 1802) but my Holden’s Staten Island places that further up the road, at 501 Todt Hill across from the Franciscan friary (I’ll have to look for it there later.) The Burbanck family burial yard is under a huge tree at Four Corners Road 9see below). Todt Hill is one several Staten Island's luxury home communities along with Southeast Annadale, Grymes Hill, Emerson Hill. Morris's Memorial History of Staten Island recalls an article from August 30, 1856's Staten Islander, who had stated that Todt Hill's name was once called "Todt of Death Hill".

This building, which would make a good school or community center, is presently used for storage. Moses was stopped in this attempt and the concept was finally abandoned in the early 1970s; it’s now part of Staten Island’s greenbelt instead. I felt a little funny creeping about snapping pictures, but nary a soul, Brother, or soul brother accosted me, and I got my pictures in peace and tranquility. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was actually a follower of Francis of Assisi himself, one of the most renowned orators the Church ever produced, and is believed to have produced miracles during his many conversions of nonbelievers before his death at the young age of 36. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. When it comes to Staten Island real estate sales it's not uncommon to see homes break into the highest priced home sales in New York City. During the early battles with the Indians and the Dutch, many of the Dutch were killed on the hill, hence the name.
To the north of the neighborhood, you will find the Staten Island Expressway, which will take you to Brooklyn.
His story as a preacher, mystic and founder of the Franciscan Order would make a terrific Hollywood movie (but who would make it? There was a reply to this article in the next issue of the Staten Islander, which gives our second possible origin. Smith wrote several historical books about Staten Island and helped found the Historic Richmond Town collection. The surrounding “parkland,” really wilderness area was purchased by NY State in 1997, and it has gloriously been maintained as the same woods as it was when seminarians sought quietude, with blazed park trails, kettle ponds, spreading trees and only the occasional radio tower. You will also come across Clove Lakes Park and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal if you travel a bit farther. Apparently, a girl had put a toad in the pocket of a boy who had been bothering her on the hill.
After word got out about this incident, children who came to the hill would joke with their friends, warning them to check their pockets on "Toad Hill".
The smooth golf course of the Richmond County Country Club was actually a result of this mining.
Finally, to the south, you will find the Staten Island Academy as well as the Richmond County Country Club, the only privately-owned golf course in New York City, which also has a tennis court, fitness center, and nature center. The mining stopped during the late 1800's, when it started to become less profitable than having iron imported.
This was used to communicate with ships and vehicles with radio-telephone service, as well as the police and fire department.
Ernest Flagg, an architect who would use the serpentine rock from Todt Hill for his buildings, had his mansion occupied by the St. One landmark that is still available to go to is the Moravian Cemetery, which opened in 1740. Here, you can see the Vanderbilt Tomb which, in the United States, is the largest private tomb.

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