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Staten Island Lighthouse | by Emilio Guerra
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Staten Island Lighthouse

Lighthouse Hill, Staten Island


Standing on Lighthouse Hill and overlooking historic Richmondtown, this imposing Staten Island Lighthouse throws its rays from a point two hundred and thirty-one feet above sea level. The tall, octagonal shaped brick tower with a rusticated limestone base is an unusually impressive structure. One would sooner expect to come upon this picturesque lighthouse on the reeky coast of New England than within the boundaries of Now York City.


Rising above its solid base this handsome shaft of yellow brick is crowned by a cornice with delicate moldings. Rectangular stair windows set in the alternate planes of the eight-sided shaft are enframed in smooth-faced stone and finished with stepped lintels, providing an interesting design and creating a pleasing texture in contrast with the smooth brick.


Huge, ornately detailed brackets resting on the cornice support an octagonal captain's walk enclosed with a simple wrought iron railing. At this level, the planar surface of the enclosed area is broken by the introduction of bulls eye windows. The topmost section of the tower, faced with glass, contains the powerful light and has a small cantilevered balcony echoing the design of the Captain's walk directly below.


The low-pitched roof covering the light is topped by a substantial and handsome ball with lightning rod above it.


The Staten Island Light, or Richmond Light as it is commonly known, was commissioned in 1912. It has 350,000 candlelight power. Visible on range only, it lines up with the West Bank Light 5.1 miles away. It is a light attendant station and works in conjunction with the Ambrose Light Tower, which replaced the famous Ambrose Light Ship.


Operated under the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard, it is one of the range lights which helps to guide ships into the channels of New York harbor.


The history of lighthouses in America dates as far back as 1715, when the firs-lighthouse was constructed at the entrance of Boston harbor by the Province of Massachusetts. On August 7, 1709, an Act of Congress authorized the maintenance of lighthouses by the United States Government.


The question has been raised by the Federal Government as: to whether this building should be designated by New York City as a Landmark, The Commission wishes to honor a building of which New Yorkers are proud. The Commission is cognizant of the jurisdictional question.


Nevertheless, it is very important for the Government of New York City to state officially its deep concern that this building be preserved. There should be no uncertainty about this in anyone's mind.


The Commission would be negligent if it failed to act in this situation. At some time in the 'future this building may be in jeopardy. Our designation will be especially helpful in alerting New York City's elected representatives in Washington of the importance of saving this building. At present the Commission's specialists can be of service in providing advice so that the architectural integrity of this building is maintained. Indeed a fine relationship already exists with many local representatives of the Federal Government.


- From the 1968 NYCLPC Landmark Designation Report

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Taken on May 9, 2010