Ruth & I came out of the South Ferry subway station in Lower Manhattan on our way to Fraunces Tavern. Huge letters proclaiming The Staten Island Ferry greeted us. We had heard about this legendary boat ride all of our lives without actually knowing much about it. It was time to learn. We were back to the subway station by 3 pm but, instead of going down its steps, we got in line to ride this fabled ferry.
While we waited, I goulishly told Ruth about the bad accident that occurred on it several years ago but recalled few details. Later I was shocked because it was far worse than I remembered. In 2003 at about the time Ruth & I were waiting to ride, one of the 9 boats in the Staten Island Ferry fleet crashed into a concrete pier at full-speed killing 11 and injuring 165. Later, pilot impairment was judged the cause.
What a ride! And it’s still free. We waited with a couple of hundred silent and tired-looking people for the 5 mile, 25 minute cruise to Staten Island. On our way there I saw The Brooklyn and Verrazano Narrows Bridges in the distance, Governors Island National Monument, and many other boats including tugs, military vessels, and working ships. I had asked Charlie at Fraunces Tavern if this ferry cruise is worthwhile and he said it was because of the close-up New York harbor views one experiences. He was right.
While I enjoyed the scenery, Ruth talked to a female passenger who had moved to Staten Island when she was 4. Ruth learned that Staten Island, the least known borough, is in the process of trying to upgrade its image. Construction is about to begin on the world’s 2nd tallest ferris wheel near the dock, and the woman suggested that Ruth check out the new Staten Island outlet stores. When I wandered back because Staten Island was near, the Islander was telling Ruth about the attractions in Snug Harbor.
We arrived at the terminal near the National Lighthouse Museum and, because it was the beginning of rush hour, we immediately joined the large crowd waiting to sail to Lower Manhattan. The Staten Island Ferry serves 79,000 people each day. On the way back, we passed the Statue of Liberty. In my opinion, it was the best view of it I had yet experienced as was the sight of One World Observatory, the structure that replaced the World Trade Center towers that is currently the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
There are many pay-a-lot cruises of New York Harbor and this free one is one of the best. We’ll surely do it again.