Standing directly across from the Ferry Terminal, Staten Island Borough Hall houses the Borough President’s Office, offices of the Departments of Buildings and Transportation and other civic offices.
A designated New York City Landmark, the building was completed in 1906 and still serves its original purpose. When Staten Island was consolidated as part of New York City in 1898, St. George was selected as Staten Island’s new civic center, replacing Richmond Town, the former seat of the Richmond County government.
This French Renaissance style brick building is three stories high with a massive two-story mansard roof. The building features lavish limestone trim, including a stone base, a stone center entrance, window enframements, and Doric columns separating the windows. The high clock tower in the center can be seen from the harbor and throughout St. George.
On the inside, the grand marble lobby contains a series of significant WPA reliefs and murals painted in 1940 by Frederick Charles Stahr, illustrating events in Staten Island history. The second-floor courtroom has carved wood paneling, a coffered plaster ceiling, and early furniture.
Borough Hall was designed by Carrere & Hastings, one of the most influential firms in this country in the early twentieth century. John Carrere, a resident of Staten Island, helped select the dramatic hilltop site of Borough Hall, and was involved with the plan and development of the civic center. The firm also designed the Richmond County Courthouse next door, the original Staten Island Ferry Terminal (which was destroyed by fire) and the St. George Branch Library. Other Carrere & Hastings designs include the New York Public Library, the monumental Manhattan Bridge Approach, and the first congressional office buildings in Washington, D.C. (the Russell Senate office building and the Cannon House office building).
• Address: 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301 (entrance on Stuyvesant Place)
• Phone: 718-816-2000
• Hours of Operation: 9:00am – 5:00pm (Mon. – Fri.)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island has been home to 15 borough presidents since 1898.
1. George Cromwell
Cromwell, a Republican, served from 1898 to 1913. During his administration, borough government became centralized in St. George — Borough Hall and the County Courthouse were built in 1906. In addition, the city took over the operation of the Staten Island Ferry, Sea View Hospital opened its doors and the St. George Public Library and Curtis High School were built. He died in 1934 at the age of 74.
2. Charles J. McCormack
McCormack, a Democrat, served for only 19 months, from 1914 to 1915. In early 1915, he became ill with Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment. He died in his sleep that July during a weekend stay at Mount Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Fort Wadsworth. During his administration, McCormack won free Manhattan transit transfers for Staten Island Ferry riders, forced Island industries to cut back on harmful air pollutants, and launched important sewer and road projects. He also worked to assist the less fortunate and the unemployed, and worked to promote business activity throughout the borough.
3. Calvin Decker Van Name
Van Name, a Democrat and native Islander, served from September 1915 to 1921. During his administration, the city proposed building a garbage plant at Lake’s Island, near Fresh Kills Creek, which led to one of the Island’s first attempts at secession. In 1917, water from the Catskills first arrived at the Silver Lake reservoir, causing the first concrete roads to be built on the Island in order to accommodate traffic. Van Name also issued a booklet geared toward attracting newcomers to the borough, which led to a building boom. He died in his Van Pelt Avenue home in 1924 at the age of 67.
4. Matthew J. Cahill
Cahill, a Democrat and native Islander, served from January to July 1922. On July 15, 1922, Cahill woke up at home and complained of a stomach pain. A doctor was called at 7 a.m., but Cahill died of “acute indigestion” before the doctor was able to treat him. Cahill died at the age of 51 in the Lafayette Avenue and Fourth Street home where he was born. While in office, Cahill began to clean house, asking for the resignations of the Island public works commissioner, among others. One of his last efforts was to bring charges against the borough street-cleaning commissioner.
5. John A. Lynch
Lynch, a Democrat, served from 1922 to 1933. During his tenure, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Goethals Bridge opened in 1928 and the Bayonne Bridge opened in 1931. Lynch was faced with two disasters while he served — a fire that destroyed most of the resorts along Midland Beach and the flooding of Bodine Creek in West Brighton, which collapsed and unleashed water from Arlington to Clifton. The flood resulted in two deaths and $1 million in property damages. Lynch died in March 1954 at the age of 71.
6. Joseph A. Palma
Palma, a Republican and native Islander, served from 1934 to 1945. During Palma’s three terms, the country’s first Foreign Trade Zone was established in Stapleton, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk in South Beach and George Cromwell Recreation Center in Tompkinsville were built, and Drumgoole Boulevard was constructed. Hundreds of miles of roads were built and more than $3 million in new drainage facilities were installed on the Island. Palma died on Oct. 18, 1969, at the age of 80.
7. Cornelius A. Hall
Hall, a Democrat, served from 1946 to 1953. Hall was the first Island official to gain the support of both the Republican and Democratic parties when he ran for re-election. During his administration, he chose to support the opening of the Fresh Kills landfill, after first opposing it, and encouraged residents to follow his example. In addition, he pushed for the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and for the city to take over poor transportation services. After a fire destroyed the St. George Ferry Terminal in 1946, a new terminal opened during his tenure. Hall retired in 1953 and died in March of that year in his Eltingville home.
8. Edward G. Baker
Baker, a Democrat, served from 1953 to 1954. During his time as borough president, Baker was forced to face an emerging transportation issue due to the Island’s population increase outgrowing its own infrastructure. In addition, the former Board of Transportation threatened to cut back bus services on the South Shore, the Staten Island Railroad was in the midst of eliminating operations to the North and West shores, and the state attempted to impose the Transit Authority as a replacement for the Transportation Board. Baker was able to delay service cutbacks, but unsuccessful in derailing the Transit Authority. He died in September 1971 at the age of 64.
9. Albert V. Maniscalco
After Baker was nominated for a state Supreme Court judgeship, Maniscalco, a Democrat, became borough president following a special election in 1955. During Maniscalco’s administration, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was built, 24 public schools were constructed and the Greenbelt was created. Maniscalco served until 1965, and died in September 1998 at the age of 90.
10. Robert T. Connor
Connor, a Republican, served from 1966 to 1977. Connor was re-elected in 1969 and 1973, when he switched his political affiliation due to political infighting among Republicans. Connor’s first term followed shortly after the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. As a result, his tenure was marked by a surge in the construction of schools. He also witnessed the city’s acquisition of Sailors’ Snug Harbor in Livingston, a home for retired seamen, and its conversion to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Toward the end of his third term, Connor decided not to run for another term and accepted appointment as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy by President Jimmy Carter — where he served until President Ronal Reagan’s first term. Connor died January 2009 at his home in Fort Belvoir, Va., at the age of 90.
11. Anthony R. Gaeta
Gaeta, a Democrat, served from 1978 until he retired in 1984 at the age of 57. During his administration, Gaeta opened the doors of Borough Hall to the public on weekends and evenings. At the Board of Estimate, Gaeta relentlessly campaigned for funds for schools, roads and sewers, but he considered the creation of the Staten Island Teleport in Bloomfield his greatest achievement. Gaeta was also a leader in the fight to eliminate a coal-exporting terminal for Travis. On Christmas Day 1988, Gaeta felt ill and was taken to Staten Island Hospital, where he died the next day of congestive heart failure.
12. Ralph J. Lamberti
Lamberti, a Democrat and native Islander, served from 1984 to 1989. During Lamberti’s tenure, he created the “Harmony Street Fair,” an annual celebration of the Island’s growing ethnic diversity. Lamberti also created the action center, where members of his staff were assigned to take complaints about the city government from the public, and he was the first to donate funds to Project Hospitality. Lamberti has remained active in civic life since leaving Borough Hall.
13. Guy V. Molinari
Molinari, a Republican, served from 1990 to 2001. During his administration, Molinari battled to prevent the construction of homeless shelters on the Island, and fought to maintain a one-way toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and to preserve the Staten Island Ferry service. Molinari secured new schools, parkland and recreation facilities, and helped get the Staten Island Yankees’ minor-league baseball stadium built in St. George. But Molinari’s biggest accomplishment may be the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill.
14. James P. Molinaro
Molinaro, the first registered Conservative to hold boroughwide office in New York City, served from 2002 to 2013. Molinaro faced many obstacles during his tenure, including leading post-Sept. 11 borough residents through the Great Recession and Hurricane Sandy. During his administration, Molinaro played a huge role in the largest downzoning effort in Staten Island history. He also spearheaded the reconstruction of the South Beach and Midland Beach waterfronts and helped turn St. George into the gateway to Staten Island. In addition, Molinaro allocated millions of dollars to parks, brought numerous road improvements to the Island’s curb traffic, and supported those with special needs and senior citizens.
15. James Oddo
Oddo, a Republican, was elected in 20