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Vintage [email protected] snaps: Take a look at stunning pre-bridge photos from Elissa Montanti’s collection

On November 21, 1964, the day Verrazzano-Narrows opened, someone dressed up as Verrazzano for the local parade. The girls are, from left, Elissa Montanti, Susan Montanti, Paula Cenci and Geraldine Cenci. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

STATEN ISLAND, NY — As we continue our vintage photo story, this week we caught up with Elissa Montanti, founder and director of the Global Medical Relief Fund, whose mission is to help child victims of war and natural disasters, providing care and access to free medical treatment.

Left to right, Louie Cenci and Joe Cenci, and in front, Louis and Mimi Cenci are outside their home on Lily Pond Avenue in Arrochar. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Growing up, Elissa lived in Arrochar, near the spectacular stretch from Brooklyn to Staten Island that pays homage to 16th-century explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. The bridge which opened on November 21, 1964 continues to be vital to commuters and has helped the island’s economy thrive.

Born in Arrochar, not far from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Elissa Montanti saw the span take shape in the early 1960s. She waves from a toll booth under construction. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

But not all residents are forgiving, and many wonder if their lives have changed for the better after the magnificent engineering marvel was completed.

Montanti, an Advance Woman of Achievement in the Class of 2011, says she can’t help but harbor some resentment toward the Verrazzano-Narrows.

Rita and Louis Montanti’s wedding reception was held at the Boulevard Hotel in the 1940s. (Courtesy Elissa Montanti)

“My house was on Major Avenue, second from the corner of Lily Pond Avenue,” she said. “And my family and friends watched with tears as the wrecking ball rolled through the woods and tore down our friends’ homes. Precious life as we knew it was over. No more crickets and light bugs.

Vincent and Lena Montanti are shown on their wedding day, circa 1920. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

She recalls that the hundred-year-old chestnut trees that lined the sidewalks were uprooted to widen the road, as were the woods where they built forts out of branches and hunted blackberries and other treasures. And today there is still a hollow in the road where there once was a pond, with beautiful water lilies at the edge of the wood, she adds.

Elissa Montanti’s kindergarten graduated from St. John Villa Academy. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

She recalls that the oldest tennis court in the country once stood where the toll plaza now stands, and that the former St. Joseph Carmelite house for the sisters was replaced by a monument bridge located in front of the entrance. of the span.

Rita and Louis Montanti. Louis Montanti was a member of the United States Navy in the 1940s. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

She said she’d like to remember the neighborhood during those magical years, when no one locked their doors and every creak of the screen door hinges heralded the coming of a friend.

“My house, the coffee maker was still on,” she said with a sigh. “Our neighbors were just an extension of the family.”

Elissa Montanti and her uncle and godfather, Dr. Vincent Montanti, are shown when he was an intern, on his communion day. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Elissa says that now the twinkling lights she saw from her front porch are no longer a billion stars in the dark night – but distant lights moving above the gray constellation of steel and wire, and the Nighttime symphony has now been replaced by the roar of traffic crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

Rita and Elissa Montanti are pictured in the 1950s. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Scroll down for more age-old photos.

On Easter Sunday are, from left, Elissa Montanti and her cousins ​​Victor, Geraldine and Paula Cenci during the 1950s. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Elissa Montanti is shown at a block party in New Dorp Lane in 1976, playing with her band. On the right, Joey Sturniolo on bass. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Elissa Montanti and Stephen Perrette of the group “Fling”, practice for a concert in 1975. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Rita Montanti is pictured in the 1940s. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

During the 1950s: Elissa Montanti’s maternal grandfather, Joseph Cenci, stands on Lily Pond Avenue in front of the former Carmelite St. Joseph’s Home for Sisters. The magnificent house was where the monument stands today before the ramp entrance to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Elissa Montanti and her friend Frankie are pictured in 1957. (Courtesy Elissa Montanti)

Elissa Montanti is shown in South Beach during the summer of 1961. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

Elissa Montanti was the first woman to be Grand Marshal of the Staten Island Columbus Day Parade in 2005 and she was honored the same day for her Italian heritage. She is pictured with her uncle, Dr. Vincent Montanti, to her left. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)

At the Columbus Day Parade in 2005 are, from left, Elissa Montanti, Grand Marshal, Borough President James Molinaro and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. (Courtesy of Elissa Montanti)