Great Kills, Staten Island, New York City
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Great Kills is a neighborhood within New York City's borough of Staten Island. It is located on the island's South Shore, and according to many local geographers, it is the South Shore's northernmost community. Kill is an archaic Dutch word with various popular translations, including "creek" and "channel;" indeed, many small streams dot the neighborhood, and the name can be interpreted as meaning that a great number of such streams can be found there.
The eastern half of what is today known as Great Kills was originally named Cairedon, while the western half was referred to as Newtown. Later, both came to be known by the single name of Giffords, after Daniel Gifford, a local commissioner and road surveyor - this name surviving in Giffords Lane, the main north-south thoroughfare in what was formerly called Newtown; the Great Kills station on the Staten Island Railway is at the southern end of this street, in the heart of the community's business district. The present name of Great Kills was informally adopted in 1865. Another former place name associated with the area is Honeywood; its precise origin is uncertain, but it was the name of the telephone exchange that served Great Kills and many other upper South Shore communities from the 1920s through the late 1950s.
At the southeastern corner of the neighborhood is the Staten Island Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area, which was formerly known as Great Kills Park, and is often still referred to as such by Staten Islanders today. Immediately to the west of this is a harbor and marina, home of the Great Kills Yacht Club. Many hotels and highly-acclaimed seafood restaurants once dominated the shoreline, but steadily increasing pollution of the nearby waters forced most of them out of business by the middle of the 20th Century; the last surviving shoreline restaurant of note, the Shoals Restaurant, was destroyed in a 1968 arson fire, which also claimed the life of an elderly caretaker who had been living on the premises.
Like many other Staten Island neighborhoods, Great Kills experienced massive population growth in the latter third of the 20th Century, largely catalyzed by the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge providing easy access from Brooklyn in November of 1964. Many of the new arrivals have been Italian-Americans, and today they constitute the neighborhood's largest ethnic group.
Hylan Boulevard between Nelson Avenue and Richmond Avenue has become one of the island's busiest commercial strips; approximately one mile long, the northeastern half of this strip is considered part of Great Kills while the southwestern half is deemed to be in Eltingville. Likewise, another border between Great Kills and Eltingville is Armstrong Avenue, with Great Kills on the eastern side of this north-south road.
This town is also home to Great Kills Little League, one of the 8 little leagues on Staten Island. The ZIP Code for Great Kills is 10308, and actor Rick Schroder lived in the community as a child.
Great Kills is also home to FDNY Engine Company 162/Ladder Company 82 and Battalion 23, quarters on Nelson Ave.
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