Staten Island and the impact of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Alina Durkovic, Fordham University


This thesis will use historical, interpretive, and sociological methods to examine the process of suburbanization or "boroughization" of Staten Island using the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as lens for the population growth that occurred from the 1950s through the 1970s. Specifically, this project will investigate the ways which the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge caused a increase residential communities in Staten Island. It is hypothesized that the Verrazano Bridge caused rapid growth and destruction of the idyllic lifestyle residents of Staten Island were accustomed to. The research in this thesis will investigate the extent to which the life on Staten Island changed and how the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge resulted in both positive and negative impacts from the 1950s to 1970. Although this thesis is mostly focused on population growth and change from 1950s through the 1970s, it is important to understand the historical background of Staten Island starting in the 1900s, which is where this study will begin. This inquiry will be conducted through a historical investigation of three specific points of interest in Staten Island and the Verrazano Bridge's histories: (1) early plans for physically connecting Staten Island to the rest of New York city, including proposed tunnel plans which began in the early 1930s until the 1950s, (2) the vision of Robert Moses and responses from the communities in Staten Island, Bay Ridge and elected officials in the later 1950s and early 1960s, and (3) the building, completion and impact of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, 1964 through 1970. Interpretive analysis of historical and archival materials include—books, historical accounts, newspapers, essays, museum archives, exhibitions, photographs, maps, census data and articles—will focus on reconstructing the social and historical context in which Staten Islanders were affected by the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Analysis will be guided by the hypothesis stated above, which is that the idyllic rural borough of Staten Island was disrupted with rapid growth by means of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but will remain open to other social, historical or political explanations for the nature of suburbanization in Staten Island, New York. By focusing on historical archives, photographs, maps and census data, this research will contribute to urban studies specifically in the subject of suburbanization because the changes in Staten Island during this time period is very scarcely studied. I wish to bring light to the topic and illustrate the rich history the island possesses. This thesis will be a social history with historical and sociological analysis.

Subject Area

American history|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Durkovic, Alina, "Staten Island and the impact of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI1561144.