New Brighton, New York - Encyclopedia

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NEW BRIGHTON, formerly a village (coextensive with the town of Castleton) of Richmond county, New York, U.S.A., but since the 1st of January 1898 the first ward of the borough of Richmond, New York City. It is at the north-eastern end of Staten Island, about 6 m. S.W. of the borough of Manhattan, with which it is connected by ferry. Pop. (1890) 16,423; (I goo) 21,441, of whom 6 575 were foreign-born and 259 negroes; (1905 state census) 23,659. At New Brighton is the Sailors' Snug Harbor, founded under the will of Robert Richard Randall (c. 1740-1801), who in 1771 became a member of the Marine Society of New York (an organization for the relief of indigent masters of vessels and their families), and in 1790 bought from Baron Poelnitz the "Minto farm," about 21 acres of land in what is now the Fifteenth Ward of the Borough of Manhattan. This tract, with four lots in what is now the First Ward of Manhattan, and cash and stocks to the value of about $io,000 Randall (who himself seems to have followed the sea for a time, and was called "Captain") bequeathed to a board of trustees, directing that the income should be used "for the purpose of maintaining and supporting aged, decrepit and worn-out sailors," who had served at least five years under the American flag, and that the institution established for this purpose should be called "the Sailors' Snug Harbor." The will was bitterly contested by relatives, but finally was fully upheld in 1830 by the United States Supreme Court. The Sailors' Snug Harbor was incorporated in 1806, and its charter was amended in 1828 to permit the building of the institution on Staten Island rather than on the Randall estate, which had already greatly increased in value. In 1833 the institution, with lands covering 160 acres, was opened in New Brighton with about 50 inmates. Randall's body was removed to the grounds in 1834, and buried under a marble monument, and in 1884 a life-size bronze statue of him, by Augustus Saint Gaudens, was placed in front of the main building. In 1909 the institution comprised the main building, a hospital, a chapel, a parsonage, residences for the officials, and several other buildings. The inmates (about 1000 in 1909) employ themselves at simple trades, or at work about the grounds; the use of intoxicating liquors is strictly prohibited, but the men are furnished with plenty of tobacco, and are well cared for. The present immense value of the land bequeathed by Randall makes Snug Harbor one of the most liberally endowed charitable institutions in New York City. At New Brighton are also a Home for Destitute Children of Seamen, founded in 1846 at Stapleton, Staten Island, removed to a new building on the Snug Harbor property in 1852, and maintained by contributions and gifts; and the Samuel R. Smith Infirmary, founded in 1861 by the Medical Society of Richmond county, and named in honour of a Staten Island physician. At New Brighton there are dry docks, paper and plaster mills, and silk-dyeing and printing works. The village as incorporated in 1866 included the northern half of the township of Castleton, and as reincorporated in 1872 included all of that township.

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