South Shore, Staten Island

From Academic Kids

The South Shore is a geographical term applied to the area of Staten Island, New York, USA south and east of the island's ridge of hills (and Richmond Creek and Fresh Kills south of Historic Richmond Town) along the waterfront and adjacent areas from the Narrows to the mouth of the Arthur Kill, although many observers prefer to restrict its scope to the neighborhoods located between the shoreline of Raritan Bay on one side and Richmond Creek and Fresh Kills on the other, thus encompassing the neighborhoods of Great Kills to Tottenville only. Those who choose to recognize this more narrow definition of the "South Shore" reckon the communities that lie along the Lower New York Bay, and inland for approximately 2 to 2½ miles, from Bay Terrace and Richmondtown to as far north as Grasmere and Concord, as the East Shore.

Geologically, the area is the plain formed from the edge of the terminal marine, and continues as an underwater shoal into Lower New York Bay, where it historically was a prime oystering ground in the 19th century.

In colonial times and later, the area was heavily farmed. After the buidling of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, its population rose sharply.

However territorially defined, the South Shore is noted for the rapid suburbanization that took place in the area during the 1960s and 1970s. Its population is predominantly white, but according to census data has been growing more heterogeneous in recent years. The area generally has a low crime rate except for car thefts, which are among the highest rates in the five boroughs, and vandalism is also a problem.

In the early morning hours of September 1, 2003 (Labor Day in that year), an incident occurred that led to the South Shore in general, and one of its neighborhoods in particular, becoming the focus of unfavorable publicity when an alleged hate crime was committed in the Great Kills section, universally regarded as being part of the South Shore. In the incident, Rachel Carter, an 18-year-old African-American from South River, New Jersey, and five friends were visiting a family that had moved to Great Kills from New Jersey when they were greeted with racial slurs from some local youths; matters escalated, and eleven white youths from Great Kills were ultimately indicted on assault and related charges.

The attack, which took place in a small, recently-opened seaside park, drew heated criticism from black community leaders, both on the island and citywide, one of whom went so far as to claim that the Staten Island Expressway served as a de-facto "Mason-Dixon Line", south of which African-Americans were made to feel profoundly unwelcome. Elected officials on the island — virtually all of them white — responded by pointing out that some of those assaulted were also white, and adamantly denied that any racial "checkpoints" existed on the island.


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