Hamilton Park, Staten Island (History)

Hamilton Park in Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City, is a neighborhood filled with homes from the 18th and 19th century, several of which are historic landmarks. Some of the street names include Harvard Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Park Place, Highview Avenue, and St. Mark’s Place. Hamilton Park is an old tight-knit community nestled in a sea of developments and low income housing projects. It sits on top of a hill known as “The Heights” and ranks with Todt Hill as one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard below Maine.

The hilly streets of the Hamilton Park neighborhood feature rows of gingerbread-trimmed Victorian mansions and shingle-style homes erected during the Civil Warera. Hamilton Park Cottage, 105 Franklin Ave., New Brighton was part of one of the first suburban developments in the United States. This beautiful, Italianate brick building was built in 1859 by developer Charles Kennedy Hamilton, and was one of the first American commissions for the German architect Carl Pfeiffer.

It is sometimes known as Cottage Hill.



Hamilton Park, laid out circa 1851-52 was probably the earliest suburban residential park on Staten Island and one of the first self-contained, limited access suburban subdivisions in the United States. Unconnected to the grid of surrounding streets until 1886, it is a large, elevated tract bounded by today’s East Buchanan, Franklin, Prospect and York. Dwelling sites were set on curving drives amidst a naturalistic landscape. Hamilton Park’s setting remains even today one of the Island’s most romantic. Traces of the original carriage roads which wound through the wooded terrain are still visible.

Dubbed “cottages” at the time, a number of suburban country dwellings of 12 to 14 rooms survive. 66 Harvard Avenue, also known as the Pritchard House (c.1853) is believed to be the first speculatively built “cottage” and is the only intact survivor of Hamilton Park’s original suburban residences. Hidden behind privet hedge, birch trees, and wisteria this grand, Italianate house of yellow stucco with gray stone trim features a notable wooden porch,balcony and projecting window hood. It was placed with its front entrance commanding the downhill view to the west—today its large backyard.

Among German-born architect Carl Pfeiffer’s first American commissions in the early 1860s were 12 houses built for Hamilton, many of which survive today. Although somewhat simpler and less picturesque than the earlier Harvard Avenue house, the brick, Italianate “cottage” at 105 Franklin Avenue boasts a magnificent arcaded loggia.