Grymes Hill, Staten Island

Grymes Hill is a tall hill formed of serpentine rock on Staten Island, New York. It is the second highest natural point on the island and in the five boroughs of New York City. The neighborhood of the same name encompasses an area of and has a population of 8,263 people. The hill also includes parts of the Silver Lake neighborhood. The area includes part of zip codes 10301 and 10304.


The hill is named after Suzette Grymes, the widow of the first governor of Louisiana, William Charles Cole Claiborne, who settled on Staten Island in 1836.


Neighborhoods around Grymes Hill include Ward Hill to the north, Silver Lake to the west, Sunnyside and Emerson Hill to the south, to the southeast is Concord, and Stapleton and Stapleton Heights to the east. The east side of the hill is defined by Van Duzer Street and Richmond Road to the intersection with the Staten Island Expressway, which, with Clove Road, defines the southern side. On the west is Victory Boulevard. Some claim Cebra Avenue for the northern border, while others believe that the border is Louis Street.


Grymes Hill, which has views of Lower New York Bay and the Narrows, is the second highest point on Staten Island after Todt Hill, reaching its greatest elevation of above sea level. Hero Park, in size, is located at the intersection of Victory Boulevard and Louis Street, abutting the Notre Dame Academy property. The areas hillsides and trees are protected by the Special Hillsides Preservation Zoning District which went into effect in 1987. The Serpentine Art and Nature Commons owns and maintains several trails on preservation land. Ownership of of the hillside was assumed by the Trust for Public Land. They encouraged concerned neighbors to form SANC to maintain and improve the land as a nature preserve open to the community.
Starting in the mid-19th century, breweries dug caves into the hill to use in the production of beer. Some of these caves off of Van Duzer Street were later incorporated into a popular restaurant, which provided catering for the movie The Godfather during shooting on Staten Island. The restaurant has since closed, and the entire site was redeveloped with a townhouse complex.


Grymes Hill was carved by a receding glacier. The Staten Island Serpentinite, which is the serpentine or soapstone area that extends from New Brighton to Richmond, includes the hill country of the island. In places where glacial erosion was limited the stone weathered into a soft, yellowish, fractured condition to which the name "soapstone" is applied, but where the weathered stone was eroded the rock is hard and dense in texture and dark green in color. The rock's green, yellow or brown colors are often mottled with red.


The area was originally named Signal Hill after a British signal station. Deeds of 1836 and thereabout show that the hill was known as Castleton Heights. Grymes Hill was part of a land grant in 1687 to Thomas Dongan, who served as Governor of the Province of New York. Between the years 1830 and 1833 a local developer, Major George Howard, purchased 42 acres, which included all land between Eddy and Louis streets. Major Howard built many of the hill's earliest homes, and his name survives in Howard Avenue, the hill's main street; a portion of this street was known for a time as Serpentine Road due to the hill's bedrock consisting of serpentinite.


Grymes Hill is ranked the 4th safest neighborhood in New York City out of 229 according to Niche.
The median household income is in the top 15% in the United States. Howard Avenue on Grymes Hill is considered one of the most exclusive and most expensive areas of Staten Island.

Housing stock

Most homes in the neighborhood are private residences, many of which were constructed for Manhattan businessmen. The neighborhood has many fine homes dating from the 1920s that overlook New York Harbor.
Real estate developer Fred Trump constructed several hundred two- and three-bedroom residences in the late 1940s. These are 423 garden apartments along Howard Avenue and Arlo Road. Fred Trump's son, the developer and later U.S. president Donald Trump, sold these apartments to an unrelated corporation in 2007. Grymes Hill Manor Estates was built in 1953 as rental garden apartments, and switched to co-op status in 1983. It has 152 apartments centering on Seth Court, with some on other streets. Two high rise apartment buildings at the foot of Howard Avenue converted to condominiums following a major fire in one. There are several apartment buildings on Victory Boulevard. Two new apartment buildings have been constructed facing the Staten Island Expressway. One was turned into condominiums in 2004. The other is being offered as senior citizen housing.

Green spaces

The only public park on Grymes Hill is Hero Park, a 2-acre park donated in 1920 by Dr. and Mrs. Louis A. Dreyfus. However, Grymes Hill residents are within walking distance of the sprawling Silver Lake Park, whose facilities include a running path, a golf course, and several public tennis courts. The neighborhood also borders Clove Lakes Park, with ponds, baseball fields, and a row-boating house among its amenities. Grymes Hill also includes a steep hillside, known as the Serpentine Ridge Nature Preserve and part of the Special Hillsides Preservation District, which is a heavily wooded land area which remains in a natural state and is covered with native trees and plants including several rare, special concern, endangered, and threatened species. The Serpentine Art and Nature Commons maintains several trails on parts of the hillsides, which are owned by the Trust for Public Land.
Grymes Hill includes two cemeteries, both located along Victory Boulevard. Woodland Cemetery dates back to the nineteenth century, and some headstones are in German, reflecting the population of the day. Silver Lake Cemetery also dates back to the nineteenth century, and was the original burial site for the Hebrew Free Burial Association.


Grymes Hill is the home of two institutions of higher learning: Wagner College, and the Staten Island campus of St. John's University. The St. John's campus of was originally a small Catholic women's institution, Notre Dame College, which closed in 1971, when St. John's University took over the campus. Also on the hill is Notre Dame Academy, a Roman Catholic elementary and high school for girls which received an overall A Grade by Niche.
Adjacent to Wagner College is the site of a former Roman Catholic high school, named Augustinian Academy after the order of friars who ran it; the school closed in 1969. Near the foot of the hill, on Foote Avenue, is P.S. 35, the Clove Valley School, a K-5 school which is ranked 10 out of 10 by, 85th of 2,395 New York elementary schools according to SchoolDigger and received an overall A Grade by Niche. Also located on Grymes Hill is Casa Belvedere, a center for Italian culture and studies in Italian language and culture which is located in the Louis A. and Laura Stirn House which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, and designated a NYC Landmark in 2001.


Grymes Hill is served by the local and limited buses. The express buses provide rush-hour service to and from Manhattan.

Notable past residents (by year of death)