Staten Island not Fitting the Standards of New York City: an Overview

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Staten Island is always put in the shadows and disregarded as a borough of New York City. Kevin Walsh, author of the article “Workin’ at the Car Wash: Rossville’s Tombstones and Tract Houses,” points out how Staten Island doesn’t fit the standards of New York City regarding how New Yorkers feel about the city. Walsh also goes on to criticize the Island and how many historical objects and sites are left unattended and untouched.

Walsh’s article was interesting and points out realistic ideas that we have to accept as natives or residents of Staten Island. Staten Island isn’t liked. The Island isn’t ranked as a prestigious borough as the other four boroughs that make up New York City. Walsh asserts, “…if you’re a New Yorker not from Staten Island, you’re not supposed to visit Staten Island, you’re not supposed to care what goes on there at all….” (Walsh, 1). Walsh is making clear that if you are a New Yorker and you are not a Staten Islander, Staten Island is off limits. If you do visit the Island, you are not “allowed” back to the other four boroughs, because you have stepped foot on the Island that doesn’t belong to New York City. Walsh is making a joke that your reputation goes downhill if you are ever associated with the “forgotten borough.” This comment from Walsh annoyed me because he is describing Staten Island as an outcast; the Island doesn’t belong in the city nor is it as liked as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx. It’s not as exciting as Manhattan, but whether it is liked or not, Staten Island is still one of the five boroughs making up New York City. I feel like this is what adds to the problem of Staten Island being put in the other borough’s shadows. Whether it be regarding natural disasters or rain and snow storms, Staten Island is always the last to receive any response, if they get any help at all. Everything about the Island is misunderstood, from the Island as a whole to the people who

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populate the area

Walsh continues to express how different Staten Island is to the other boroughs. From the communities to the people who inhabit the area, Staten Island does not compare. “…I’m hardly a

typical New Yorker. I say I’m in line, I pronounce the R’s at the ends of words, I don’t walk at a break neck pace, and I don’t drink coffee at all…I can be seen prowling around Staten Island fairly regularly, just about every location on the Island….” (Walsh, 1). Walsh clarifies that he is not like the common New Yorker, and mentions the fact that he is a Staten Islander. Walsh has already stated that Staten Island is not perceived as belonging to the other four boroughs, so when he says “the typical New Yorker,” I feel that he is including the rest of the Staten Islanders in that stereotype. Not only does Walsh stereotype Staten Island as an outcast, he also points out that Staten Islanders do not fit the stereotypes of New Yorkers. The busy life New Yorkers encounter in the other four boroughs aren’t apparent on the Island because it is so quiet and there is not much to do here.

While criticizing the Island and its lack of status in New York, Walsh adds that Staten Island has many historical sites and objects on the Island, however they end up being forgotten like the Island itself. “The tanks were outmoded almost as soon as they were built and were never filled, and have been left to sit and rust since. Staten Island, folks!” (Walsh, 9). I feel that Walsh is conveying the idea of Staten Island many people have in that statement. The tanks that were left to sit and rust have been forgotten and not cared for. That same statement can be said for the Island; Staten Island is left alone, forgotten by the government officials regarding weather issues and natural disasters, and not cared for when any problems occur.

I agreed with most of Walsh’s arguments regarding the Island, however I didn’t agree with his stereotype of Staten Islanders. The Island may have one common stereotype, but the people within the borough aren’t the same. Many of them have lived in the other boroughs before moving to live on the Island.

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