One of the only towns in Staten Island not named for or by the Dutch, Arrochar’s heritage is Scottish, as the influential lawyer, William Wallace McFarland named it thus after his hometown in Scotland.
Prior to the town’s European settlement, it was home to the Lenape Indians, who were driven out upon the arrival of the Europeans. The Scottish influence bleeds into street names as well, which show a proclivity to begin with the preface “Mc.”
McFarland’s property now hosts one of the Island’s best all girls’ schools, St. Joseph Hill Academy, as well as the Arrochar playground.
In the early 1900s, Arrochar functioned as a beach getaway for wealthy Manhattanites looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Only one trolley stop away from the Ferry, day-trippers would get off the trolley in Arrochar and walk to the amusement park and ocean in South Beach. During the early twentieth century, the trolley system was one of the main modes of transportation, and it stayed in action until 1934, when the city saw higher profitability and efficiency in buses. The trolley cost for passengers was only a nickel, a far cry from the two and half-dollar metro fare of today.
Arrochar is located in the Northeastern section of Staten Island. Its attraction lies in its close proximity to the Verrazano Bridge and South Beach. Upon the Verrazano’s inauguration in November of 1964, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
An endearing feature of Arrochar is the warmth of its residents. It is not odd to see people calling each other by first names in passing or at the local butcher’s market (dating back to 1943)- the phrase “Mi casa es su casa” – or rather, “La mia casa è la tua casa,” as the area is now home to a large number of Italian immigrants- is certainly a phrase the townsfolk embrace in this close-knit neighborhood. Since the Berlin Wall fell in the early nineties and finally allowed Eastern Europeans to immigrate westward, an influx of Poles, Yugoslavs, and Hungarians have joined them.
An interesting historical spot to pay a visit is the Geller House, which was once a refuge for unwed Jewish mothers. It is now a therapeutic center, catering to troubled youth and adolescents from the surrounding area.
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