Tottenville Beach Is Lies
I had my reasons - though lord knows I'm an Outer Borough fetishist - for travelling to Staten Island. But they were all pure. I had received word of a mythical beach at the bottom of Staten Island, a quiet and unspoiled stretch of parkland at the southernmost tip of New York State - Tottenville Beach. And all we needed to do was take an R Train to the Staten Island Ferry, followed by the Staten Island Railroad. This process took a mere two hours, or twice as long as it would have taken to kayak there.
What we found, at the end of the railroad, was a superficially charming bit of suburbia, all painted wooden houses and well-tended gardens. This gave way to a much less charming version of suburbia, all ill-proportioned mansions and endless rows of SUVs parked in the street. And 20 minutes later, no Tottenville Beach. The Tottenville Beach, where "you can relax while sunbathing, or stroll down its sandy coast taking in the fresh air and beautful views."
[Quick aside here, but you may notice that I am taking care to mention Tottenville Beach as frequently as possible. This is so as to make this page visible to the casual google-searcher. And thus prevent future generations falling prey to such bilge as the above-quoted]
What do find at the end of Carteret Street but an abandoned and ill-maintained stretch of scrub. An insect-ridden, arid waste of prime real estate. When we chance upon the shore (you're in luck, the tide's in, explained the old-timer we stopped for directions), we encounter a two foot wide strip of dirt lined with a black and oily film. Which may or may not have something to do with the chemical storage tanks that were visible from the Tottenville Railroad stop. We turn round toot sweet.
As a final aside, you may have heard that the Staten Island Railroad, while not a part of the subway system basically consists of subway trains running at street level. The novelty wears off rather quickly. The first thing one should notice is that, being at street level, they maintain excellent wireless coverage, including those beepy Nextel walkie-talkie things. The daylight also seems to make the youth of the borough behave in an even less housetrained fashion than normal.
Long Island beckons. Bugger. Never thought you'd hear me say that.