Daniel F. Sciannameo, MAI, one of New York City’s best appraisers and a Staten Island resident, brought an article published in the Staten Island Advance to my attention. The article states that Staten Island residents have had to pay what amounted to a monthly tax to New York City for a subway line that was never built.
The article written by Tom Wrobleski provides the history of the train line. He wrote, “As originally conceived in the 1920s, the train line would have run from St. George to Mariners Harbor, connecting with Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue subway line at 67the Street via a Richmond-Brooklyn Passenger Tunnel.”
The train line would have operated as a subway between St. George and West Brighton before coming above ground just south of Forest Avenue near Broadway, the Advance reported. The line would then have run above ground, traveling parallel to Forest Avenue to South Avenue in Mariners Harbor.
To prepare for the building of the subway, the city purchased hundreds of right-of-way parcels of land on the North Shore, including along Jewett Avenue, which was to be widened as part of the rail project.
Some homeowners and business owners along Jewett who’d had portions of their property acquired by the city in anticipation of the street widening then had to pay the city a monthly land rights fee for use of the property. They faced eviction if they became delinquent.
That continued for decades, even after the subway project was killed and even as the properties changed hands.
The city’s right-of-way maps for the subway were finally canceled in 1964, meaning that the property owners whose land included city-owned parcels for the rail line should have been notified and the parcels put up for auction.
The subway line, which was promised to Staten Island as a condition of joining the other four boroughs in the City of New York in 1898, was never built.
The state Legislature in 1925 ruled that the train line had to be used for freight as well as passenger service, according to Advance archives. The $60 million project couldn’t be financed under that tight restriction and the project was abandoned.
The shaft that was dug for the project in St. George on July 19, 1923, at a cost of $842,000, was filled in shortly after the St. George Terminal fire in 1946.
Public transportation still remains a problem on Staten Island with residents dependent on unreliable express buses to travel to Manhattan.