City Island building landmarked

The City Island Nautical Museum, located at 190 Fordham Street on City Island, which was recently designated a New York City landmark.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Roberto Soto, a City Island resident for the past 17 years said tells people he is so old, he lives in a museum.

Well he does, the Nautical Museum Building on City Island which this year was designated a New York City Landmark.

“This is a wonderful place and it is wonderful living in a an old established building,” Soto said. “Everyone on the island knows where the old school house is. The more I hear about this wonderful building, the more I feel lucky to live here.

“This building is not built like they are now, this is a very solid structure, with a very high ceiling and very thick walls. I am very happy to live here, not only because it is structurally sound, but also because of its rich history.”

The school, which first opened as P.S. 102 and later as P.S. 17, is located at 190 Fordham Street. The back portion of the building contains condos, where Soto currently resides. The building is also home to the Nautical Museum as well as a community center.

The New York City Landmark designation will be presented at a City Council hearing in March.

The building first opened in 1898 with about 400 students and eight classrooms. It was designed by then famed New York City architect Charles Snyder.

P.S. 102 was renumbered P.S 17 in 1903 and was designated as The City Island School in 1916. From 1929 to 1930 the school was expanded to meet the needs of the growing island population, and was replaced in 1975 by P.S. 175. The original building was then used by the various groups it still houses there today.

During the 1980s City Island developer Haim Joseph purchased the property and converted the back of the building into condos, under the agreement that the nautical museum and community center could remain.

Long-time resident and City Island Civic association member Russell Schaller said having the building landmarked means a lot to him.

“I went to school there starting in the 1930s,” Shaller said. “I always liked the school, I think it was a better school than P.S. 75. We had very excellent teachers, who were all locals and grew up on City Island. I am happy to see it has been landmarked.”

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