Charleston, Staten Island (History)

Charleston is the name of a neighborhood, or section, of New York City’s borough of Staten Island. It is located on the island’s South Shore, with Tottenville to the south, Pleasant Plains to the East, Rossville to the north, and the Arthur Kill to the west.

 

HISTORY

Charleston, once a small village settled by the Androvette family in 1699, bore their name as Androvetteville or Androvettetown through the 18th century. The Androvettes engaged in farming and in approximately 1850, eight of the twenty-nine structures in the village belonged to the Androvette family.

Many locals may still remember Charleston as Kreischerville. With the arrival of Balthasar Kreischer (1813–1886), a Bavarian immigrant and founder of the Kreischer Brick Manufactory, the area became known as Kreischerville as his business success imparted growth to the surrounding area. Balthasar Kreischer had three mansions built on Kreischer Hill, one of which stands to this day and is designated a historical landmark. The remaining Kreischer House at 4500 Arthur Kill Road at the intersection of Kreischer Avenue, was renovated by the Staten Island Land Development LLC. The mansion has a certificate of occupancy for a 70-seat restaurant that will operate at night. The factory, built in 1854, was destroyed by fire in 1877 and rebuilt. The factory finally shut its doors in 1927.

The name Charleston seems to have arisen during World War I, when anti-German sentiment flourished as the United States entered the war. “Charleston” appears to have been chosen so as to name the village after Charles Kreischer, one of Balthasar Kreischer’s sons.

Charleston once had its own United States Post Office branch, and mail sent there bore the postal code “Staten Island 13, New York”. The post office, located at 28 Androvette Street, was closed in 1949. While neighborhoods on Staten Island do not have universally agreed-upon boundaries, most observers today reckon Charleston as consisting of a triangle-shaped territory enclosed by Bloomingdale Road, the Richmond Parkway, and the Arthur Kill; this gives Charleston a slightly larger area than that which the former post office served—and by the current prevailing definition Charleston includes Sandy Ground, settled in 1833 by African Americans who had achieved freedom from slavery, most of whom came to the area from Maryland; remnants of the original settlement still exist.

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

As of 2002, many groups of people live in Charleston, including many families of Irish and Italian origin. Many residents of 19th century Charleston were Germans. In the 20th century many Hungarian immigrants settled in Charleston.