Five Amazing Locations That Prove Why Staten Island Is New York’s Most Versatile Borough For Filming

There’s a saying when it comes to location scouting in New York City: if you can’t find it anywhere, try Staten Island.

While Staten Island often fights for recognition amongst the boroughs that don’t require a ferry for access, it nonetheless features some of the most interesting and unique filming locations anywhere in the city. Below, five choice locales to prove why Staten Island should be your go-to for any production.

1) Camp Pouch

If you’re looking to shoot a picturesque lake in upstate New York, save yourself the hours of driving and instead head to Camp Pouch on Staten Island.

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A literal oasis, Camp Pouch features over 140 acres of woodland centered on the pristine Lake Orbach, which is large enough to have its own private island.

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In addition to acres of forest, you’ll also find a number of cabins and lean-tos…

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…which, for my money, are just begging for the right horror movie to set up shop.

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A peak inside: bunks and a fireplace…

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…and nearby, a classic wood-paneled scoutmaster’s office.

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For years, we would hear rumors of the millions and millions of dollars being offered to the owners by developers looking to erect untold numbers of condos on the property, and most of us just assumed it was a matter of time before it would all disappear beneath a bulldozer. Miraculously, in 2013, an agreement was reached with the state to purchase most of the land, ensuring its continued existence as an escape for over 25,000 scouts each year.

2) Seaview Hospital

Probably the most frustrating type of location to be asked to scout is the classic abandoned building. It’s not that they don’t exist – there are quite a number within New York’s 25-mile filming radius. Sadly, nearly all of them are far too unsafe for a film crew to enter, usually due to asbestos, lead paint, structural damage, and so on. Thankfully, we have Staten Island’s Seaview Hospital.

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Built in the early 1900s as a tuberculosis sanatorium, Seaview Hospital consists of 37 hospital buildings sprawled over 98 acres, the majority of which are abandoned. Most are too dangerous to enter into, but one in particular is free from the usual OSHA culprits, and has been used as a filming location on several occasions.

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Honestly, you’re not going to find a more haunting environment than its shadow-lined corridors…

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…which lead to extremely photogenic wards branching off in opposite wings:

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Ancient hospital equipment is strewn everywhere…

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In particular, I love the old nurse’s station:

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And while you could never film there, is that not a gorgeous canopy of foliage lurking out back?

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For an interesting horror movie shot principally at Seaview, be sure to check out Jacob’s Ladder.

3) Historic Richmond Town

Some time ago, I was working on a movie that was looking to shoot a number of period scenes in a small town setting. I figured we’d have to go somewhere in Westchester, or maybe Rockland County. My boss told me to go to Staten Island.

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Historic Richmond Town is a living history village featuring a number of historic buildings spanning the 17th-20th centuries, including the oldest elementary school in the country (built 1695).

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There are a variety of styles to choose from…

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…and using the right angles, you can play it for just about any time period you’re going for.

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The village centers on the former courthouse of Richmond County, which offers a wonderful period courthouse setting:

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Located near the center of the island, you’ve seen Historic Richmond Town in a number of movies and TV shows over the years, including several appearances on Boardwalk Empire.

4) The Boat Graveyard

At some point in every scout’s career, he or she will be asked to find a post-apocalyptic wasteland somewhere in the five boroughs. I can’t think of a better option than the boat graveyard on Staten Island.

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The most interesting way to approach it is through an actual cemetery – the Blazing Star Burial Ground on Arthur Kill Road, which dates to the 1750s…

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Pass through the reeds at the rear of the cemetery…

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…and you’ll emerge in a bizarre netherworld where sailing vessels go to die:

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The area is owned by the Donjon salvage company, and with over 400 interred boats, it has become one of the largest collections of historic ships in the United States.

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You can find pretty much everything, from rotting barges to decaying tugboats.

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A very haunting location that has turned up in a number of productions. Perhaps someday, the adjacent human cemetery will get its moment in the spotlight too. A favorite grave…

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Check out that creepy skull:

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5) Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor might as well be New York City’s unofficial backlot set. Originally founded as a free retirement home for aged seamen in 1833, the site has been used as a stand-in for a ridiculous number of locations over the years. To give you a few examples of its wide range, you could use it as a college campus…

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A museum…

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A hospital complex (or creepy asylum)…

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A Ming-era Chinese garden…

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A smalltown church…

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A row of frat houses…

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A New England seaside mansion…

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Honestly, with Snug Harbor, the only limit is your imagination.

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One final perk of shooting on Staten Island? Drive in in the morning, head back to the city at night – in either case, you’re always going in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic. 🙂

-SCOUT

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7 comments

  1. Great photos, as ever – each time I read a post on here, I start thinking of the film I need to be writing, and the more I want to get back into NYC to do some exploring.

    Great work!

  2. I grew up there and didn’t know about most of these places–very cool! (And thanks for not peppering this post with the usual cocktail of dump/mafia/big-hair jokes).

  3. The correct name for “Seaview” is “Sea View” (short for Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home).

  4. I worked at SEAVIEW Hospital (Sanatorium) in the 1950s. It was a very interesting
    place to work.

  5. The last time I visited SI it was a stinky landfill, perhaps it’s time to revisit. thanks Nick!

  6. As a dyed-in-the-wool Brooklynite, I’m prohibited from saying anything positive about the Isle of Staten, but I love this post. When I was a kid, my parents loved to shop at the Staten Island Mall. We would drive over from Brooklyn, and my dad would take different backroads to the mall. It was much less developed, and there was so much open space and woods, it was like a day in the country. Dad would point out all kinds of interesting sites like these.

    Flash forward to the late 80s and early 90s when I was a Scout Leader, and my friends and I would take our Scout Troop to Camp Pouch on weekend camping trips. I nearly lost my eyebrows trying to light a propane heater in one of the cabins (possibly the one you photographed).

    Recently, I drove through Staten Island with my daughter and her boyfriend, and pointed out a few of the things my dad had shown me all those years ago. The boyfriend did not know anything about them, despite the fact that he has lived on SI his whole life. It reminds me that there is always something new to be learned.

  7. Also the historic St george Theatre! 86 year old restored theatre is an amazing filming location..check out this stunning music video filmed entirely at the St George a few months ago
    http://www.silive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/10/sara_bareilles_video_filmed_at.html

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