Staten Island is one of New York City's five boroughs. Its population is approx. 500,000 (less than any other borough).

It is most well-known for the Fresh Kills Landfill (yes, that's its name) and the Staten Island Ferry. It's also the starting point for the New York City Marathon.

Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and to New Jersey by the Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, and the Outerbridge Crossing.

While part of New York City, Staten Island is more like suburban New Jersey or Long Island. It is highly residential and most people live in their own houses rather than apartments. Socially "in" things include bowling, going to the movies and, of course, going to the Staten Island Mall. (What would suburbia be without a mall?)

Residents of Staten Island have often had different views from the rest of New York City. During the American Revolution era, Staten Island had strong British support, while the rest of New York City was largely patriots. Staten Island is strongly Republican, while the rest of New York City is highly Democrat. In fact, without Staten Island, Dem. David Dinkins would've defeated Rep. Rudolph Giuliani in a mayoral election in the 1990s. (Giuliani won Staten Island by more votes than Dinkins won the rest of the city, putting him over the top).

There was a strong movement in the 1990s for Staten Island to secede from New York City, but that has subsided in the last few years.

I've been driving through everyone's favourite ... er, okay, never mind. I've been driving through Staten Island a lot recently, paying through the nose every time, and I've evolved my own little theory about the island.

Disclaimer: If you've got real answers, I'd like to know them. For now, I thought this was an amusing solution to something that's been plaguing me.

All of the toll booths on every bridge providing access to Staten Island require payment upon entry INTO the Island. You never have to pay to leave. The MTA used to collect tolls both ways on the Verrazano, but stopped; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is certainly equipped to collect both ways, even if they don't.

There's got to be a reason, right?

The reason I propose is that they have to get you goin' in, because people would refuse to pay $6-$7 for the "privilege" of leaving the Island. The cause is twofold: the traffic, which is horrible even at 3 am, and the stench, which permeates ONLY from Arthur Kill Road to Victory Boulevard on a good day. They get you going in because you never know just how bad it's going to be. Who would want to pay after 2 hours of traffic for a 7-mile trip while swimming in l'odeur du landfill?

Not me!

The Lenape (Delaware Indians) called the island Aquehonga Manacknong. The first part means "high, sandy banks", owing to the island's coarse mid-Atlantic soil, and the second part means "as far as the place as the bad woods", perhaps referring to the interior, which is swampy and today constitutes a preserve called the Greenbelt. The first permanent settlement of the island seems to date back to 3,000 BCE, although there is evidence of human presence dating all the way back to 12,000 BCE.

The Lenape settled along the coast, with the Hackensack occupying the north, the Raritan the south, and the Tappan the east (now you know where all those funny place names come from!). All three belonged to the Unami, a subdivision of the Lenape whose totem was the turtle.

While Staten Island is stereotyped as being mostly landfill, the borough was downright rural until the building of the Verrazano Bridge. After that, the small farms disappeared. The Lenape farmed the island long before the bridge was even a sketch on a napkin. They also hunted local animals, which ranged from wild turkey and deer to wolves, oppossum, and bears. They collected shells along the coast and made them into wampum, which was traded for flint (not locally available). Fishing also provided a source of food and trade. Staten Island is located south of Manhattan, along the northeastern coast of New Jersey, and naturally picked up some of the trade from Indians making the circuit of New York Harbor.

The Lenape, however, no longer live on the island. In 1670, the land was sold to the English Governor Francis Lovelace, nine years after the first successful European settlement (by the Dutch, at "Oude Dorp", in what is now the community of South Beach), and thirty one years after fighting between Lenape and Europeans began.

The Staten Island Lenape were forced west and south, into New Jersey, and seem to have been absorbed into the local population. Later, most of the Lenape were moved to reservations in the Midwest, far away from the sandy banks of the mid-Atlantic coast.

For more on the Lenape:

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