No need to break in, you’re invited! The Staten Island Farm Colony is one of the most storied locations in New York City, a 46-acre site that was built originally as the Richmond County Poor Farm. Renamed the New York City Farm Colony in 1902, the institution provided room and board to the city’s indigent population in exchange for their labor. At its peak population in the 1940s, up to 1,700 people lived at the Farm Colony. Governmental changes, such as the adoption of the Social Security program, reduced its numbers until 1975 when the remaining residents were moved to Sea View Hospital, located just next door.

The Farm Colony has thus been vacant for 40 years. Many of its notable buildings are still standing but in imminent danger, having deteriorated from both vandalism and the elements. Its history and remaining buildings, along with a connection to the Cropsey serial killer of the 1920s, have made the Farm Colony a popular target for urban explorers and photographers.

Farm Colony-Landmark Colony-Staten Island-NYCEDC-Untapped Cities Tour-001

But changes are afoot. In 2013, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved a proposal to provide age-restricted housing for a growing senior population and much needed affordable on the site of the Farm Colony. The future Landmark Colony, developed by NFC Associates, will rehabilitate five of the eleven historic structures, retain 40% of the site as publicly accessible open space, restore native landscaping, and maintain the existing Potter’s Field (cemetery for the poor). One of the landmarked buildings will be stabilized as a ruin, anchoring the public gardens around it.

New York Farm Colony-Staten Island-Rendering-Renovation-NYC-2Rendering of Landmark Colony by Vengoechea+ Boyland

New York Farm Colony-NYCEDC-Tour-Staten Island-NYCPhoto from a previous NYCEDC visit

We are excited to bring readers into the Landmark Colony redevelopment on our upcoming Behind the Scenes NYC tour on Saturday April 2nd, a series produced in partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). As with all of our Behind the Scenes NYC tours in partnership with the NYCEDC, those leading the tour will not be tour guides, but experts directly involved in the spaces we visit. For this exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the New York Farm Colony, we are thrilled to announce that Nate Gray, Vice President of Planning at NYCEDC, will lead the tour, accompanied by the redevelopment project’s architects, Tim Boyland and Pablo E. Vengoechea. Visitors will walk through the site in its pre-redevelopment state, see the historical buildings, and learn about plans for the future of the site.

We hope you will join us on this very unique tour and look forward to seeing you there. This will be likely the only time we will host this tour during 2016.

We’ll also be hosting a Behind the Scenes tour of the Brooklyn Army Terminal with the EDC with special early access into the newly renovated Annex building. Tickets here.