Blood Root Valley
What was here before?
This area was once the site of the Seaview Hospital/NYC Farm Colony Complex. The Farm Colony was established in 1829 as the “Richmond County Poor Farm” where people farmed and labored for room and board. The Farm merged with Seaview Hospital in 1915.
Seaview Hospital, built in 1913, operated as a tuberculosis sanatorium where the cure for the disease was developed by Dr. Edward Robitzek (1912-1984). It closed in 1975 and reopened under NYC Health and Hospitals in the early 2000s.
How did this site become a park feature?
This site was originally to be part of the Richmond Highway. Robert Moses (1881-1981), Chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, wanted to build a road parallel to the waterfront and through the neighborhood of Todt Hill. Despite opposition from wildlife conservators, excavation began in preparation for the new roadway. The environmentalists sued city officials including Governor Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979) and Mayor John Lindsay (1921-2000). The judge ruled in their favor and the four-mile road never came to fruition. The rubble that was excavated was made into a man-made hill that was referred to as Moses Mountain. Shortly thereafter, the Staten Island Greenbelt was formed. In 2021, it was renamed Paulo’s Peak.
Who is this site named for?
Thomas A. Paulo (1947-2020) was the former NYC Parks Borough Commissioner for Staten Island and served as the first Greenbelt Administrator.
Paulo was raised in the Grasmere section of Staten Island and graduated from the Augustinian Academy in Grymes Hill. He obtained a degree in psychology from New York University in 1967 and graduated from NYU Law School three years later. Paulo began practicing law in Brooklyn but said “… as much as I loved the law, my real heart was in design and landscape.” After two years, he left the firm and enrolled and graduated from the landscape design program at Syracuse University.
Paulo returned to Staten Island and started his new career with the New York City Planning Commission, where he was integral in the development of the Greenbelt Master Plan. Five years later, he became the first Greenbelt Administrator. In this role, he was responsible for the second-largest park in New York City and founded the Greenbelt Conservancy. In 1993, Paulo was appointed as the Staten Island Borough Commissioner. In his 17 years as Parks commissioner, he oversaw efforts to revitalize the South Beach waterfront, restoration of the Conference House and Conference House Park, and construction of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, a 13-acre greenhouse, nursery, and seed bank complex.
Paulo died in 2020. His legacy can be seen throughout the Staten Island parks.