Of all the public spaces in New York City, there’s only one where you can find everything from a garden built in China to a full vegetable farm to the keyboard on which the RZA composed the Wu-Tang Clan’s legendary “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" album.
Formerly a home for retired sailors, it’s hard to believe that the tranquil 83-acre, 28-building Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is part of New York City. Visitors will find a wide range of activities and attractions: a two-acre farm, 14 acres of wetlands, rolling lawns for picnicking, the Richmond Country Savings Foundation Tuscan Garden, and the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, which was built by Chinese artists in China and shipped, piece by piece, to Staten Island in 1998.
And then there are the buildings, several landmarked, which comprise the largest ongoing adaptive reuse project in the country. There’s the second-oldest concert hall in the city (Carnegie is the oldest), and several visual art installations, including “Island Sounds: a 500 Year Music Mash-Up” – a whirlwind tour of the musical history of Staten Island that takes visitors from Native American music to a guitar signed by Journey ‘s Steve Augeri to that Wu-Tang keyboard. The exhibit coincides with the 120th anniversary of the Concert Hall.
Snug Harbor is also home to the Art Lab, the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Noble Maritime Collection, SHARP/Snug Harbor Artist Residency Program, Staten Island Children's Museum and the Staten Island Museum & Archives.
NY4P visited in mid-June, and we were deeply impressed – both by the beauty and diversity of the landscape but also the generosity of the staff. Our day ended with lunch, fresh from the farm, overlooking the Tuscan Garden.
Snug Harbor, just a five minute drive or bus ride from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, is unlike anywhere else in New York City and perfect for a summertime visit.
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