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Staten Island ferry to be named Sandy Ground for historic black settlement

A new Staten Island ferry will be named

A new Staten Island ferry will be named Sandy Ground, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, April 13, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

A new Staten Island ferry will be named Sandy Ground, for one of the country’s first African-American settlements, the mayor said Thursday.

Freed slaves established Sandy Ground on the South Shore of Staten Island in the 1800s after Capt. John Jackson, a ferry operator, became the first black man to own property on the island. The area was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.

“The story of Sandy Ground is an incredible chapter in American history that may be unknown to most New Yorkers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, adding that he hopes the name will encourage people to visit Sandy Ground.

Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-Staten Island) led the effort to name the vessel after the historical spot, starting a petition in February, which received 575 signatures. 

“We rely on our ferry to bring us home where we find shelter and safety, and Sandy Ground exemplifies all those basic needs that an African American ferry captain sought and found here on Staten Island,” Rose said in a statement. 

The Sandy Ground ferry is one of two that are expected to begin service in 2019, de Blasio said. The other will be named Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, after a Staten Islander killed saving fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in 2013.  

Ollis, 24, died after he “ran toward the danger, throwing himself in front of a suicide bomber,” de Blasio said at a news conference in January 2016. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, among other awards for bravery.

A third vessel, which has not been named yet, will begin service in 2020, the mayor said.


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