Staten Island Borough Hall

Staten Island Borough Hall: A Historic Landmark

Borough Hall, located in the St. George neighborhood, is a key municipal building for Staten Island in New York City. Constructed in 1906, it serves as the seat of government for the borough. The building is a notable example of French Renaissance architectural design, featuring a three-story structure with a two-story mansard roof, limestone trim, and Doric columns​​.

Designated as a New York City Landmark, Borough Hall reflects the rich historical and civic heritage of Staten Island. It houses the Borough President’s office, Departments of Buildings and Transportation, and other civic offices, making it a central hub for borough administration​​.

Inside, the grand marble lobby boasts a series of WPA-era bas-reliefs and murals by Frederick Charles Stahr, which depict significant events in Staten Island’s history. These artistic elements enhance the building’s historical significance and offer visitors a glimpse into the past​.

Architectural Details

Borough Hall exemplifies the French Renaissance architectural style, characterized by its ornate design and classical elements. The building features a three-story structure topped with a massive two-story mansard roof. This roofing style is a hallmark of French Renaissance architecture, providing both aesthetic appeal and functional space within the roof​​.

The exterior of Borough Hall is adorned with intricate limestone trim, enhancing its visual appeal. Doric columns, another classical element, frame the building’s stone center entrance and windows. These columns add a sense of grandeur and formality to the structure​​.

A prominent feature of Borough Hall is its high clock tower, which is visible from the harbor and serves as a landmark within the St. George area. This tower not only contributes to the building’s aesthetic but also underscores its civic importance​​.

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Designed by the influential architectural firm Carrere & Hastings, Borough Hall is part of the firm’s legacy of significant projects. Other notable works by Carrere & Hastings include the New York Public Library, the Manhattan Bridge Approach, and the first congressional office buildings in Washington, D.C., such as the Russell Senate Office Building and the Cannon House Office Building.

Historical Context

Following Staten Island’s consolidation into New York City in 1898, the need for a central municipal building became apparent. Borough Hall was constructed in 1906 to serve as the administrative center for Staten Island. Its establishment marked the transition of St. George as the new civic center, replacing Richmond Town, the former seat of the Richmond County government​​.

The building was designed to house essential civic offices, including the Borough President’s office and other municipal departments, facilitating efficient governance and public service. The strategic location of Borough Hall, directly opposite the St. George Ferry Terminal, underscores its importance as a central hub for both administrative functions and community engagement​​.

The construction of Borough Hall not only provided a functional space for municipal operations but also symbolized the borough’s integration into the larger New York City framework. The architectural grandeur and civic purpose of the building reflect its role in the development and modernization of Staten Island during the early 20th century.

Interior Highlights

The interior of Borough Hall is distinguished by its grand marble lobby, which houses a series of Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals and bas-reliefs. These artistic elements were created as part of a federal project during the Great Depression, aimed at providing employment to artists while enriching public spaces​​.

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Borough Hall - Main Entrance

Borough Hall Mural Corridor

Frederick Charles Stahr, the artist behind these works, made significant contributions through his detailed murals. Working out of a third-floor studio in Borough Hall, Stahr spent two years creating oil-on-canvas murals that were cemented to the building’s walls. These murals provide a vibrant historical narrative, depicting pivotal moments in Staten Island’s history​​.

Historical Mural in Staten Island Borough Hall

The themes of the murals include Verrazzano’s discovery of Staten Island in 1524, Henry Hudson’s visit in 1609, interactions between Lenape natives and European settlers, and scenes from the American Revolutionary War, among others. Each mural is meticulously crafted to showcase the rich and diverse history of the borough, making them an integral part of Borough Hall’s cultural and historical significance.

Historical Mural of Borough Hall - Peace Conference

Borough Hall Mural - Native American Encounter

Civic Function

Borough Hall serves as the central hub for various municipal functions, housing several key offices essential to the administration of the borough. Among these are the Borough President’s office, the Department of Buildings, and the Department of Transportation. These offices coordinate the borough’s civic operations and provide vital services to the community, ensuring effective governance and public administration​​.

The second-floor courtroom within Borough Hall is a notable feature, characterized by its elegant wood paneling and coffered plaster ceiling. This courtroom is designed with early 20th-century craftsmanship, reflecting the building’s historical and architectural significance. The detailed woodwork and intricate ceiling design contribute to the courtroom’s dignified and formal atmosphere, suitable for judicial proceedings and other official functions.

Location and Accessibility

Staten Island Borough Hall is conveniently located directly across from the St. George Ferry Terminal. This strategic location ensures easy access for both residents and visitors traveling by ferry. The building is also situated near other important civic buildings, such as the Richmond County Courthouse, enhancing its role as a central hub for municipal activities​​.

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The address and contact information for Borough Hall are:

The building is open to the public during the following hours of operation:

  • Monday to Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM​

Conclusion

Borough Hall is a significant landmark that embodies both historical and architectural importance. Constructed in 1906, it has served as the administrative heart of Staten Island, housing essential civic offices and featuring impressive French Renaissance architecture. The building’s interior, with its grand marble lobby and WPA-era murals by Frederick Charles Stahr, offers a unique glimpse into the borough’s rich history​​.

Visitors are encouraged to explore this architectural marvel, conveniently located near the St. George Ferry Terminal. The combination of its historical significance and stunning design makes Borough Hall a must-see destination for those interested in the heritage of Staten Island.

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