Clifton, Staten Island

Exploring Clifton: Waterfront Charm and Community Vibes

Clifton is an older neighborhood on Staten Island’s North Shore. It’s situated along Upper New York Bay, bordered by Stapleton to the north, Rosebank to the south, Concord to the southwest, and Van Duzer Street to the west. Known for its history and scenic views, Clifton was once home to parts of the Vanderbilt estate and the original headquarters of the National Institutes of Health. Residents enjoy its quiet, residential feel and picturesque vistas of the bay, Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and Manhattan skyline.

Map of Clifton

The History of Clifton

Clifton’s Early Days (Early 19th Century)

Clifton likely started to be settled in the early 19th century, around the same time as development efforts on Staten Island. While we don’t know the exact date, this period saw the beginnings of the community.

The Vanderbilt Influence

The Vanderbilt family, a prominent dynasty in New York history, owned a significant amount of land around Clifton. Cornelius Vanderbilt, a member of this family, played a key role in shaping Clifton’s development. In 1860, he launched a ferry service from the Clifton waterfront to Manhattan. This ferry service later became the original route of the Staten Island Railway, establishing Clifton as an important transportation center.

Expanding Beyond the Vanderbilts

Although the Vanderbilts owned much of the land, Clifton was home to a diverse community. In the late 1800s, William Emerson, brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson, lived there. Also, the US Public Health Service Hospital, now Bayley Seton Hospital, was founded in Clifton in 1838. It served as the original headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) until the 1930s.

Changes in the Landscape

Clifton has changed over time. In the 1880s, it was mostly rural, like the rest of Staten Island, with goats grazing on the hills. In the early 20th century, the Fox Hills Golf Club was built, where the Park Hill Apartments stand today, suggesting a wealthier past.

By the mid-20th century, Clifton had become a middle-class, diverse neighborhood with residents like firefighters, teachers, and doctors. The opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the 1960s caused some residents to move elsewhere on Staten Island for more space and affordability.

Modern Clifton

Today, Clifton has a mix of single-family homes and apartments. It’s known for its quiet vibe and beautiful waterfront.

Clifton’s Appeal: Nature, History, and Community

Clifton’s biggest draw is its beautiful waterfront along Upper New York Bay. From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The waterfront is a great spot for activities like walking, jogging, biking, or having a picnic. Although Clifton doesn’t have many historical landmarks, it does have some interesting reminders of its past.

Dining Options

Clifton offers a modest selection of dining venues, reflecting its primarily residential character. Visitors can explore a variety of casual eateries, including cafes, diners, and pizzerias. Venturing into neighboring areas like Stapleton and Rosebank expands culinary choices to include diverse cuisines such as Italian, Mexican, and Asian. Additionally, Clifton’s cultural diversity contributes to the presence of authentic ethnic restaurants, offering a taste of global flavors.

Demographic Snapshot of Clifton

Clifton is a diverse neighborhood characterized by a blend of ethnicities, ancestries, and nationalities. Its population reflects a mix of ages, with family households being a notable feature of the community. Language diversity adds to the neighborhood’s vibrancy, with various languages spoken at home. Overall, Clifton presents a dynamic and multifaceted demographic landscape, contributing to its unique identity within the larger context of New York City.


Clifton, situated in Geographic District #31 for NYC public schools, offers various educational opportunities for its residents.

Public Schools

The primary option for most families in Clifton is the public school system, overseen by the New York City Department of Education. P.S. 13 M.L. Lindenmeyer serves as the main public elementary school within Clifton, offering classes from Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade. For middle school, students typically attend Bertha A. Dreyfus Intermediate School (I.S. 49), located nearby in the same district, serving grades 6 through 8. High school options vary depending on factors like academic performance and preferences, with students potentially attending schools outside of Clifton such as Tottenville High School or Susan E. Wagner High School on the South Shore of Staten Island.

Private Schools

While there are no private schools directly within Clifton, several private schools are available on Staten Island, with a concentration in the Grymes Hill neighborhood.

The Real Estate Market in Clifton


Clifton offers a diverse range of housing options, including single-family homes and multi-unit residences. Compared to other parts of New York City, Clifton is known for its relatively affordable housing market, catering to a variety of budgets, from first-time homebuyers to retirees.

Price Range

As of March 2024, the median sale price for a single-family home in Clifton is approximately $631,411. Prices can vary based on factors such as property size, location within Clifton, and specific features of the property.

Market Trends

The real estate market in Staten Island, including Clifton, has experienced a recent increase in prices. However, compared to other boroughs of New York City, it remains more affordable. Inventory levels can fluctuate, so it’s advisable to stay updated with current listings.


When evaluating properties in Clifton, consider factors such as commute times to neighboring areas for additional amenities and services. It’s also essential to research the quality and ratings of public schools serving the specific area within Clifton where you’re considering purchasing a property.

Additional Resources

For individuals interested in purchasing real estate in Clifton, consulting with a local real estate agent is recommended. A knowledgeable agent can offer expert guidance and assist in navigating the market effectively.

Transportation Options in Clifton

Public Transportation

Staten Island Railway (SIR): The SIR Clifton station is conveniently located along the main line, providing easy access to other parts of Staten Island and Manhattan via the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. With frequent train services, it’s a popular choice for commuters.

MTA Buses: Clifton is serviced by several MTA bus routes, connecting residents to nearby areas like Rosebank, Stapleton, and Port Richmond. These buses also offer access to the Staten Island Ferry for travel to Manhattan.

Limited Local Options

While Clifton doesn’t have a dedicated taxi stand or ride-sharing service, options like Uber or Lyft are readily available via smartphone apps. Expect short wait times for pickup.

Car-Dependent for Some Errands

Having a car can be advantageous in Clifton, particularly for errands and exploring other parts of Staten Island. Street parking is generally available, though availability may vary based on the neighborhood’s location.


Limited Nightlife: For those planning late-night outings to bars or restaurants, relying solely on public transportation or ride-sharing services may prove inconvenient. Owning a car or arranging designated drivers in advance may be prudent.

Commuting to Manhattan: Commuting to Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry and subway may require additional time due to wait times and transfers between modes of transportation.


Clifton offers a blend of waterfront charm, historical intrigue, and a peaceful community vibe. While its amenities and entertainment options within the neighborhood are limited, its convenient location and access to public transportation make it easy to explore nearby areas. Whether you’re looking for an affordable alternative to other NYC boroughs or a place with a strong sense of community, Clifton provides a distinct living experience.

Greetings! I'm Dr. Andrew Stepanov, a passionate explorer of Staten Island's vibrant neighborhoods. Rooted in the heart of the borough as a devoted resident, I've dedicated myself to unveiling the unique history and experiences that define Staten Island. Through my blog, Staten Island Explorer, I aim to share insights into the rich diversity shaping our community. Come join me on a journey to uncover hidden gems, embrace diverse cultures, and revel in the beauty that makes Staten Island a place I am truly honored to call home.

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