From Farm to City

From Farm to City

From Farm to City: A Richmond County Savings Foundation Legacy Exhibition

NOTE: In 2012 From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012 was created by the Museum of the City of New York. That exhibition focused on land use – Farmland/Suburb/Retreat/City. The Staten Island Museum’s new legacy version focuses on the people and themes that define the Island’s history and contributions to the nation, using primary sources.

From Farm to City offer a glimpse into Staten Island’s unique history, its people, and the themes that resonate as collective truths on this island using images and historic documents, audio interviews, and digital collections. Staten Island history is rife with surprising facts, unusual characters, and deep-seated American paradoxes, and this exhibition strives to reunite Islanders with their past and share the evolving story of New York City’s “Borough of Parks” with visitors. From Farm to City is also a taste of what you can find in the Museum’s archive and other historical collections.

The Museum’s history and exhibition team, graphic designer Tina Sher, and audio producer David Tarnow developed a dramatic collage that will present the rich history of an often “forgotten” borough. Audio stops will feature community members and historians, and iPads will allow deeper study of documents from various archives. Video newsreels, compiled by the Museum of the City of New York, make 20th century Staten Island come alive as well.

The exhibition will illustrate the Island’s past from the first native inhabitants until the creation of Freshkills Park. Stories will include: Lenape Indian summer encampments, Revolutionary War raids, Civil War draft riots, and peaceful retreats for philosophers, wealthy city folks, and hard-working immigrants. Aging sailors, orphans, and the poor found refuge on Staten Island. African Americans founded a historic free community, and 19thcentury entrepreneurs created bustling factory towns. It will also explore moments of national significance, including the discovery of the cure for tuberculosis and the first tennis tournament in the United States.

By the mid 20thcentury, when Staten Island became the site of world’s longest suspension bridge and its largest landfill, much of its history was overlooked or forgotten. Those who delve into the exhibit will find undiscovered stories to collect, compare, and consider.