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Why Did Staten Island Want to Secede From New York?

The concept of secession isn’t new, we’ve heard of the most recent Brexit, and the less popular Calexit but did you know that Staten Island had requested for secession back in 1993 but was not entertained?

There are several reasons why Staten Island wanted to break free from New York City. Some include: high taxes, bad public transportation, and the most problematic – tons of city garbage being dumped in their landfill.

The History of Staten Island

Staten Island is a small borough located at the south west portion of New York City. It is the least populated borough and is often disregarded compared to its sibling towns.

The island measures around 13.9 miles long and 7.3 miles wide making it the third largest borough of the five: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

By proximity, Staten Island is closer to New Jersey than it is to New York. Three bridges connect Staten Island to New Jersey, and one bridge connects it to New York.

Being the least populated, Staten Island has always been overlooked which is why they preferred to separate from New York. (Source: Staten Island History)

The Story of the Secession

Staten Island started its process of secession back in 1993. The people were done with the exorbitant taxes, the terrible public transport, and the monumental amount of garbage the city dumps in their landfills.

However, in spite of the overwhelming response from the Staten Islanders, the secession did not happen. The New York State Assembly blatantly ignored their referendum results. (Source: All That’s Interesting)

Were the Concerns of Staten Island Ever Addressed?

Rudy Giuliani understood the plight of the Staten Islanders and included solutions to their grievances in his campaign. Needless to say, by addressing their concerns – he won the election for that year.

By addressing their top two concerns – the landfill and the toll for the ferries between the two cities, Giuliani was able to eliminate the need for a secession. (Source: All That’s Interesting)

Did They Ever Stop Talking About the Secession?

When Bill de Blasio became Mayor in 2014, the talks of the secession surfaced. But the fact of the matter is, pushing through with the secession is quite complicated. We’re talking millions of dollars in laywers’ fees to sort out all the knots.

Are the Reasons for the Secession Valid?

Yes, it may seem quite arbitrary, but when you understand the history between Staten Island and Manhattan, it’ll make more sense.

Staten Island is home to more Italian-Americans than anywhere else in the New York state. Back when the white flight began, the Italian American communities of Brooklyn headed towards Staten Island. The Verrazano Bridge was opened in 1964. It was the means by which Italian-American families were able to emigrate. The bridge still stands today, and there is no other way to travel between the islands without the bridge or a ferry.

The support for the secession surfaced again. But the New York City government was not interested to listen. This is all because of the landfill. (Source: All That’s Interesting)

Why is the Landfill So Important?

The Fresh Kills Landfill was opened in Staten Island back in 1947. The New York City government intended for it to be a temporary fix, but it got out of hand and grew into a mountain of trash over the years. They literally turned Staten Island into New York’s dumping site.

Around 20 barges would each drop off 650 tons of garbage every single day. If Giuliani did not follow through with his campaign promise, the landfill would have probably become the highest point in the East Coast towering at 85 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. 

It made sense why Staten Islanders wanted the landfill gone, but unfortunately this was just the tip of the iceberg. (Source: All That’s Interesting)

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