Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden has sailor roots | THIRTEEN

Treasures of New York: Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden premieres Sunday, April 3 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

A beautiful Staten Island Cultural Center and Botanical Garden has its roots in one man’s vision to provide housing and care for “aged, decrepit, and weary sailors” in New York City. Their welfare was the concern of Captain Robert Richard Randall (1750 – 1801), heir to a maritime fortune. In his will, Randall bequeathed a significant portion of his fortune to create a haven for retired sailors, whose hazardous jobs and life at sea often did not provide financial security.

In 1833, “Sailors’ Snug Harbor” officially opened its doors to retired sailors from around the world. At the turn of the 20th century, “Sailors’ Snug Harbor” was reputed to be the wealthiest charitable institution in the United States. It was also a self-contained community that included dormitories, a farm, a power plant, a hospital, a music hall and much more.

Lawn in front of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Photo: WLIW LLC

Treasures of New York: Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden reveals the rich history of Snug Harbour, while focusing on the role it plays today as an important cultural destination. Snug Harbor is an urban oasis on Staten Island where art, history and nature converge. Attractions include the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, and Music Hall (learn more about the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden Site).

The program offers an up-close look at the sprawling 83-acre campus, which features elegant 19th-century architecture, 14 beautiful gardens, and innovative spaces for the arts to thrive. Treasures of New York: Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden explores how Snug Harbor serves Staten Island and the New York community as a whole.

A Chinese rock carving and pagoda line a pond alongside verdant trees.

The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden.

The Snug Harbor complex is also home to a university community independent cultural institutions, including the Noble Maritime Collection, the Staten Island Museum and the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

For a fascinating account of real estate history tied to the Greenwich Village holdings of philanthropist Robert Richard Randall who funded Snug Harbour, check out the nonprofit New York City Sailors Cozy Harbor Trusteesand a research paper on the history of Greenwich Village by Kate Feighery.

Watch New York Treasures episodes.

A wide strip of marigolds seen at ground level

Flowers at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Photo: WLIW LLC

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