The Bowery Boys: New York City HistoryThe Bowery Boys: New York City History

#325 The Staten Island Quarantine War

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EPISODE 325 In 1858, during two terrible nights of violence in September, the needs of the few outweighed the needs of the many when a community, endangered for decades and ignored by the state, finally reached its breaking point.

In Staten Island, near the spot of today’s St. George Ferry Terminal, where thousands board and disembark the Staten Island Ferry everyday, was once America’s largest quarantine station – 30 acres of hospitals, medical facilities, shanties and doctors' homes, surrounded by a six-foot-tall brick wall.

Since its construction in the year 1799, Staten Islanders had fought for the removal of the Quarantine Ground, considered a menacing danger to the health of residents and a blight upon any possible development.

Yet the need for such an extensive facility at the Narrows -- the gateway to the New York Upper Bay and the Hudson River -- was so important that the state of New York mostly turned a blind eye to their wishes.

And so the residents of Staten Island took matters into their own hands.

Was this a case of righteous revolution in the service of safety and well-being against a tyrannical state? Or a grave and malicious act of terror?

FEATURING: Cornelius Vanderbilt and two American vice presidents. And origins of New York neighborhoods, Tompkinsville, St. George and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn!

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