The favorite pastime of City Island residents, especially those “clam diggers” who have spent their whole lives here, is to sit and talk about the good old days, when the island was busy building wooden boats, making sails, and offering respite and restaurants for off-Islanders. Over the years, several old-timers have been willing to provide their own stories about growing up on City Island, working here, and telling tales about what life was like back when, and some of their memories are recorded here.
Schools on City Island began in the 1830s, when Rachel Fordham taught children in her home; later a school was built on Main Street (now City Island Avenue), coincidentally on the site of the current P.S. 175. The second formal school building was constructed in what is now Hawkins Park, and the third, built by the City of New York to a design by the celebrated architect C.B.J. Snyder, is on Fordham Street and is now the home of the City Island Nautical Museum. That school, P.S. 17, closed in 1975 when P.S. 175 was opened, and “St. Mary, Star of the Sea School was a Catholic school for 75 years until it was closed in 2012. The museum has many photographs of graduating classes and other school events; a few of them are reproduced here.