This granite curbstone in Tompkinsville was put in place before Staten Island became part of the five-borough consolidated City of New York in 1898. I walked on it, over it and around it for 30 years before noticing it just the other day.
AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME
After my friend Simon relocated to Santa Barbara from St. George several years ago, he came back for a visit and remarked how old and small everything about New York seemed after a year or two in the West.
Before I had a chance to be offended by the words 'old' and 'small,' he added, "I feel as though I never really saw the city when I lived here, maybe because I never really looked."
Simon's words came back to me the other day when I happened to see, as if for the first time, the curbstone I was stepping onto from the roadway, shown in the photo at the top of this entry. I saw it was made of granite, still serviceable, and beautiful, after more than a century of service.
MOSTLY STILL HERE
What makes me pretty sure that curbstone has been in place more than 100 years are the markings chiseled into its surface: "TK AR 2." Though I can only speculate as to what the numeral '2' refers to, I'm a lot more certain about the pair of paired letters that precedes it.
The caption of this undated, un-postmarked, hand-colored postcard reads, "Public Square, Arrietta Street, Tompkinsville, S.I." The 'TK' incised into the curbstone stands for Tompkinsville; the 'AR' for Arrietta Street . The buildings clustered on the right of the image are on the north side of today's Victory Boulevard, formerly Richmond Turnpike, between Central Avenue/Bay Street and today's St. Marks Place, formerly Arrietta Street.
This row of simple post-Civil War red brick commercial/residential structures, like the granite curbstone only steps away, owe their survival to disinvestment and decline that began after World War II and accelerated with the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Will they survive the visions of the developers, who see St. George/Tompkinsville and Stapleton not as neighborhoods but as a concept called 'Downtown Staten Island'?
The granite curb shown at the top of this entry can be found at the northwest corner of St. Marks Place and Victory Boulevard, outside the Liggett-Rexall drug store.
Here's another postcard image of that corner, postmarked 1918.