From lush valleys to commanding heights, Staten Island has provided inspiration for writers like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as providing opportunities for entrepreneurs like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Donald Trump, Charles Goodyear, and Daniel Tompkins. The area afforded sanctuary to people like Giuseppe Garibaldi, Don Antonio de Santa Anna, Maxim Gorky, Xhevdet Mustafa, and Gustave von Struve to escape persecution.
Staten Island chronicles more than 400 years of the island’s transformation, illustrating the dramatic changes that have taken place in the fastest growing county in New York State.
Giovanni da Verrazanno was an Italian explorer of North America best known for discovering New York Harbor in the early 1520's. Henry David Thoreau was a Massachusetts transcendentalist before the Civil War who wrote the classic work On Civil Disobedience. Cornelius Vanderbilt founded a transportation empire based on steam and launched a family dynasty that became synonymous with extreme wealth.