Sailors' Snug Harbor, also known as Sailors Snug Harbor or Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden or, informally, Snug Harbor, is a collection of architecturally significant 19th-century buildings set in a park along the Kill Van Kull on the north shore of Staten Island
in New York City
, United States
It was once a home for aged sailors and is now an 83-acre (340,000 m sq) city park. Some of the buildings and the grounds are used by arts organizations under the umbrella of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Sailors' Snug Harbor includes 26 Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate and Victorian style buildings. The site is considered Staten Island's "crown jewel" and "an incomparable remnant of New York
's 19th-century seafaring past." It is a National Historic Landmark District.
Snug Harbor was founded by the 1801 bequest of New York tycoon Captain Robert Richard Randall for whom the nearby neighborhood of Randall Manor is named. Randall left his country estate in Manhattan
, bounded by Fifth Avenue and Broadway
and Eighth and 10th Streets, to build an institution to care for "aged, decrepit and worn-out" seamen.
The opening of the sailor's home was delayed by extended contests of the will by Randall's disappointed heirs. When Sailors' Snug Harbor opened in 1833, it was the country's first home for retired merchant seamen. It began with a single building, now the centerpiece in the row of five Greek Revival temple-like buildings on the New Brighton waterfront.
Railroad station :
A station on the now-defunct North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railway bore the name Sailors Snug Harbor, but sat almost a half mile to the east of the property's main entrance; the stop to the west of this called Livingston was actually the closest station to the center's front gate.The S40 Richmond Terrace bus travels from the St. George Terminal to the Snug Harbor front gate.
The five interlocking Greek Revival buildings at Snug Harbor are regarded as "the most ambitious moment of the classic revival in the United States" and the "most extraordinary" suite of Greek temple-style buildings in the country.Built around the 1833 Building C, the buildings "form a symmetrical composition on Richmond Terrace, an eight-columned portico in the center and two six-columned porticoes on either end."
Paul Goldberger wrote, “Snug Harbor has something of the feel of a campus, something of the feel of a small-town square. Indeed, these rows of classical temples, set side-by-side with tiny connecting structures recessed behind the grand facades, are initially perplexing because they fit into no pattern we recognize — they are lined up as if on a street, yet they are set in the landscape of a park. They seem at once to embrace the 19th-century tradition of picturesque design and, by virtue of their rigid linear order, to reject it.”
The buildings are set in extensive, landscaped grounds, surrounded by an individually landmarked, 19th-century cast-iron fence. They include a "beautiful" 1893 zinc fountain featuring the god Neptune, now indoors with a replica in its place. According to the New York Times, "He sits in the middle, astride a shell held aloft by sea monsters, his trident raised. Jets of water spurt from the fountain's center and from bouquets of metal calla lilies to its sides.
Visitors to Snug Harbor stop and watch, sitting on benches surrounding the scene, while workmen eat their lunches. It is quiet. Noisy New York and its busy harbor only 200 feet (61 m) away, beyond Richmond Terrace, might just as well be on Mars. Or at least at the other end of His Majesty's sea.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden :
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the Staten Island Botanical Garden
is a nonprofit, Smithsonian affiliated organization that operates Sailors' Snug Harbor. Its primary purpose is "to operate, manage and develop the premises known as Sailors Snug Harbor as a cultural and educational center and park." In 2005, it was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Staten Island Botanical Garden
The Staten Island Botanical Garden maintains extensive gardens including The White Garden, inspired by Vita Sackville-West's famous garden at Sissinghurst; Connie Gretz’s Secret Garden, complete with a castle, a maze and walled secret garden; and The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden
, an authentic, walled, Chinese garden in the style of the famous gardens of Suzhou.
Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art
Established in 1977, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art exhibits the works of local and international artists. The center, which also provides artist-in-residence exhibitions, 15,000 square feet (1,400 m sq) gallery space.
The Noble Maritime Collection
The Noble Maritime Collection is a museum with a particular emphasis on the work of artist/lithographer/sailor John A. Noble (1913–1983). The Washington Post called the exhibit of a houseboat that Noble converted into an artist's studio "compelling...It is a home on the water and an artist's lair all in one, complete with wooden surfaces, portholes, an engineer's bed, a drawing table, and printmaking and etching implements.
Inside, it's easy to envision the boat moored in nearby waters while the son of painter John 'Wichita Bill' Noble sketched maritime subjects from the 1930s until his death in 1983. The younger Noble made regular rowboat excursions to observe and document the working life of the waterfront. The Noble collection is a testament to a vibrant culture of ships, docks and laborers that has mostly disappeared from New York."The New York Sun called the Noble collection "an unsung gem among New York museums."
The Staten Island Children's Museum
The Staten Island Children's Museum features a rotating collection of hands-on exhibits.
The Staten Island Museum
There are plans by the Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences to open an art museum in a modern, fully climate controlled facility housed within the walls of one of the triple land-marked “front five” buildings at Snug Harbor. Founded in 1881 as The Natural Science Association of Staten Island, the institute currently operates a museum in nearby St. George that includes exhibits relating to natural history and the art and history of Staten Island.
Art Lab is a school of fine and applied art, founded in 1975 and offering art instruction and exhibitions.
An 850-seat Greek Revival auditorium, the Music Hall hosts performing arts. It is the second-oldest music hall in New York City, having opened in July 1892 with a performance of a cantata, "The Rose Maiden." In attendance were some 600 residents of the home who sat on plain wooden seats, and 300 trustees and their guests who occupied the venue's upholstered balcony seats.
In Literature, Film, and the Arts :
In an 1898 article in Ainslee's Magazine, "When The Sails Are Furled: Sailor’s Snug Harbor," the soon-to-be-famous novelist Theodore Dreiser provided an amusing nonfiction account of the obstreperous and frequently intoxicated residents of Snug Harbor.The 2009 illustrated novel Peter Pigeon of Snug Harbor, by Ed Weiss, is set almost entirely at Snug Harbor, from its days as an old sailors' home to its new incarnation as an arts center.
The last scene of the movie Fur, which was supposed to recreate a nudist camp, was filmed there in July 2006.Part of Lady Gaga's music video for her fifth single off Born This Way, Marry The Night, was filmed at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center.