The Watering Place

This project explores the history of a parcel of land in the Tompkinsville/St. George area of Staten Island, New York once known as the Watering Place. Many, largely forgotten, events of national significance happened here that spans the full history of the United States. The most notable event was the establishment of the Quarantine Grounds. A state-run Quarantine and Marine Hospital opened in 1799 under health officer Dr. Richard Bayley and lasted for 6 decades. The federal portion of the Quarantine Grounds originally held the U.S. Customs Service – the primary source of income for the fledgling United States of America. The Quarantine and marine hospitals were used for several functions including for the health inspection of immigrants well before the federal government took over this function at Castle Garden and Ellis Island. In 1858 the Tompkinsville residents, fearing the spread of contagious disease from the Quarantine to the surrounding neighborhood, burned down the quarantine facilities and hospitals. Several famous and lesser-known historical figures are connected to this parcel of land in the “forgotten borough” of New York City. The goal of this ongoing project, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Vigorito, is to rediscover the history of the Watering Place.


Both images in this composite are in the public domain and available from the Online NYPL Digital Collection.

Main image: Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. “View of the Narrows between Long Island & Staaten Island with our fleet at anchor & Lord Howe coming in–taken from the height above the Waterg. Place Staaten Island. 12th July 1776.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1776.

Inset: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “View of the quarantine grounds and buildings, Staten Island, May 1858.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1777 – 1890.


Posted on

October 31, 2017

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