Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pleasant Plains, Staten Island
Situated on the island's South Shore, Pleasant Plains was apparently given its name by officials of the Staten Island Railroad Corporation, the original owners of what is now known as the Staten Island Railway. When the railroad line was extended to Tottenville in 1860, a station crossing Amboy Road approximately two miles north of Tottenville was named Pleasant Plains (this is one of two points at which the railroad crosses this same street; the other crossing point is between the Bay Terrace and Great Kills stations). Eventually, the name "Pleasant Plains" was applied to the community which soon sprung up around the station.
In 1882, a 320 acre (1.3 km²) farm east of the railroad station was purchased by the Roman Catholic Church, which established an orphanage on the site. This institution became known colloquially as Mount Loretto, but its official name is the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin. In 1978, 126 acres (510,000 m²) on the north side of the property were converted into the Cemetery of the Resurrection by the Archdiocese of New York, which needed to open a new cemetery on Staten Island as most of the burial plots at the island's existing Catholic cemeteries had already been used up. The mission has been the scene of two notable fires: One, in 1973, destroyed its original church (at which a scene from The Godfather had been shot one year earlier), and a March, 2000 fire, believed to have been deliberately set, gutted an abandoned building once used as a girls' dormitory on the eastern side of the property, which had been acquired from the mission by the city government two months prior. In 2004 a 12 acre (49,000 m²) tract at the northeastern corner of the mission's property, which had been the site of a convent maintained by the Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, a Franciscan order of nuns, was sold to residential developers for $19 million, despite steadfast opposition from local conservation activists.
Still sparsely populated even today, Pleasant Plains was once the home of acclaimed harpist Maud Morgan and a former head of the New York Opera , Max Maretzek . Gus Farace, a reputed Mafia associate who was murdered in 1989 after allegedly having killed a federal drug-enforcement officer, is buried in the Cemetery of the Resurrection.
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