Adobe Blues mural, south side of Lafayette Avenue near Fillmore Street, New Brighton, Staten Island.
IN NEW BRIGHTON, HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
There was no way I could survey hill-walking in Staten Island's close-to-the-ferry neighborhoods and not include New Brighton, one of New York's earliest suburban developments, organized in 1839.
But I'll admit I wasn't expecting much.
Like a lot of locals, but not many others, I knew all about the one derelict but still functioning stairway between the corner of York Terrace and East Buchanan Street at the top, and York Avenue, just up the hill from Fillmore Street, at the bottom.
Seen from a passing car––like so many other experiences walkers have and drivers don't––it would appear to be just another concrete stairway leading who-knows-where and not worth a second glance or thought.
East Buchanan Street from the bottom of the hill at Franklin Avenue--the starting-off point.
Sure enough, a few yards past the top of the hill, just as I remembered, the narrow path leading to the stairs begins, then continues down the hill to York Avenue.
NEW BRIGHTON CLIFF-DWELLINGS: A DIFFERENT ANGLE
Turning right and continuing up York Avenue, I wasn't surprised to see more cliff-dwellings; I remembered them from past treks, but not in detail. I'd never noticed how far back from the street these hilltop houses were sited--especially as compared to those on Corson Avenue in Tompkinsville (Part 1) and St. Pauls Avenue in Stapleton (Part 2).
Because the grade here is less steep than on other nearby streets with hillside houses, there's less need for buttresses, terraces, retaining walls and the like. In several cases, a single continuous stair runs from the sidewalk to the front door.
A little farther up York Avenue near Carlyle Street, I half-saw this stairway as I passed it. But that glance was enough to make me turn back and take a second look. Even in its deteriorated condition, the stairway's proportions told me this was either a public amenity or the entry to a substantial residential property. There was no sign, no marker, nothing.
For a while there, going up the steps and continuing up an overgrown path, I worried that I might be trespassing.
But soon enough, I saw a familiar street sign ahead: Highview Avenue. I knew exactly where I was. I turned right and walked back to East Buchanan Street, the starting point.
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HAVE I MISSED SOMETHING? If you notice I've left out a stairway, path or walkway in one of the neighborhoods mentioned in this four-part entry, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org And thanks.