STATEN ISLAND, NYC
Among the five boroughs, Staten Island stands apart. Its suburban character can either be seen as an affront to the urban sensibility of New York City, or as a refuge from it. But for a broad spectrum of New Yorkers, the so-called "forgotten borough" is largely a mystery.
Every year, 1.5 million tourists ride the Staten Island Ferry for its free views of the Statue of Liberty, but few venture beyond the St. George ferry terminal before catching the next boat back to Manhattan. If they were to hop on the Staten Island Railroad instead, they could ride it all the way to the "South Pole" of New York State. There, a dead end marks the southern terminus of Arthur Kill Road.
The street winds its way through some of the most sparsely populated areas of New York City, skirting the waterway it's named for. It is a capricious landscape, where strip malls and tract housing rise beside active industry and pockets of historic architecture. Between and beyond them, in spaces untouched for decades, scenes of the truly ancient unfold, colored by a maritime tradition that has all but vanished from the city at large.
Tracing the perimeter of the island and penetrating its wooded center, along Arthur Kill Road and elsewhere, I've tried to capture the beauty and mystery of Staten Island's quiet corners. Here on the remote edges of the urban environment, the fabric of the city dissolves, and the past is laid bare through the natural process of decay.
The feeling is anything but suburban. At certain times of year, in a certain light, these relics transcend their surroundings, entering the realm of myth and the imagination.