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Staten Island Ferry

By David Paul Gerber and Wayne Whitehorne

 

Overview

The Staten Island Ferry is New York City’s oldest and most successful ferry service. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week between Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan and Saint George Ferry Terminal at the northeastern tip of Staten Island. It was originally taken over by the city of New York in 1905 from the B&O Railroad after a 1901 ferry accident claimed 5 lives near the St. George end. Since 1905, the city has owned and operated the boats and ferry terminals, under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Transportation. Until 1997, the round trip fare was 50 cents and collected only at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, since then the ferry is now free as part of former Mayor Giuliani’s "One City, One Fare" initiative. Despite surviving a 1948 fire at the St. George terminal, and the prospect of the 1964 opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge linking Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge with Staten Island, the ferry remains a strong magnet for tourists catching a glimpse of New York harbor and the Manhattan skyline, as well as regular commuters who live in Staten Island.

The ferry operates 3 classes of boats. Within each class there are 2 or 3 boats. The ferry operates a 2 boat schedule, with 30 minute headways most of the day. During rush hours (from 6:30 to 9 AM and from 5 to 8 PM), the ferry uses up to 4 boats simultaneously. On weekends, ferries run 30-60 minutes, late nights every 60 minutes. Since Mayor Bloomberg recently announced improvements to off-peak schedules, we will not post the schedules until the improvements are made. In the meantime, please refer to NYC DOT’s current ferry schedule in PDF format

Staten Island Ferry Boats

By Wayne Whitehorne

As of 07/2007

Name of Boat Year Built Active/Retired/Future

( A/R/F)

Comments

Miss New York Class

Mary Murray 1938 R  
Miss New York 1937 R  
Gold Star Mother 1937 R  

Merrell Class

The Private Joseph F. Merrell 1951 R  
Verrazzano 1951 R  
Cornelius G. Kolf 1950 R  

Kennedy Class

John F. Kennedy 1965 A 1,2
The Governor Herbert H. Lehman 1965? R 1,2
American Legion (II) 1965? R 1,2,3

Barberi Class

Andrew J. Barberi 1981 A 4
Samuel I. Newhouse 1982 A 5
Austen Class
Alice Austen 1986 A 6
John A. Noble 1986 A 6

Molinari Class

Guy V. Molinari 2004 A 1
John J. Marchi 2005 A 1
Spirit of America 2006 A 1
Miscellaneous Boats
American Legion (III) 2011 A 7

Notes

  1. Car boat, however no cars carried due to security concerns after 9/11/2001
  2. Retired . American Legion retired 6/2006 . The Lehman is retired  as of  the end of the day on 6/30/2006 and is being kept for parts to keep the Kennedy running ten more years as a training boat.
  3. Second boat with the name "American Legion
  4. Victim of accident in 2003. Repaired and back in service.
  5. This boat was the scene for a February 2012 surprise marriage proposal. She said yes. Your site staff wishes the Colorado couple many years of clear sailing ahead. Your webmaster was contacted by the mother of the bride to be  for assistance and was glad to help make the dream r come true. The Bride to be had no idea what was to happen on New York's "Love Boat."Your webmaster extends thanks to all within NYC DOT who assisted the mother of the bride to be..
  6. These are smaller boats and are generally used for overnight service
  7. This boat was bought by a private business and donated to the city. It is used as an emergency response boat and if needed during city emergencies. It has a capacity of twelve passengers and is the fastest boat in the fleet at a top speed of 30 knots. The first boat named American Legion  was put into service in 1905 and scrapped in 1963

The classes of boats are as follows:

Kennedy Class Were the oldest boats in service and have been replaced by 3 new boats. The  John F. Kennedy has been retained as a training boat and as a spare boat. Each boat has a lower level that holds cars and motorcycles, however due to security concerns after 9/11, there are no cars or other vehicles accepted on this ferry until further notice. Because of the lower level, the passageways are narrower than most  other areas on these boats. The 3 boats entered service in 1965, and have a capacity of 3,500 passengers.

Barberi Class  There are 2 boats in this class, the Andrew J. Barberi (1981) and the Samuel I. Newhouse (1982). Because there is no car space reserved on these boats, they have a larger capacity of 6,000 passengers. The Andrew J. Barberi was named after the NYC school teacher, who taught at Curtis High School in Staten Island for over 25 years. 

 Austen Class  There  are 2 boats in this class, the Alice Austen and John A. Noble. Both entered service in 1986, although one is designated for late night service, while the other is used for trips between Fordham Street in City Island, The Bronx and Hart Island. Hart Island is where Potters Field is located, a place where paupers are buried. Because these boats are smallest in size, they only hold up 1,280 passengers, they are not in service past late night hours.

 Molinari Class  has replaced the  Kennedy Class . The Guy V. Molinari, is dedicated to former S.I. Borough President Guy V. Molinari and entered passenger service in February, 2005. The other 2 boats  are the Senator John J. Marchi and the Spirit of America.  The Spirit of America will be the 27th boat constructed and put into service, since the city's takeover in 1905. All boats have a restaurant on-board with full service fast-food type meals (usually on the middle level), restrooms, and binoculars (for a small fee) that can be used to see things, like the Statue of Liberty, up close.

The newest boat is he American Legion (III). This is the third boat to be named American Legion. It was bought by a private business and donated to the city of New York. It is the fastest boat in the fleet and can carry twelve passengers. It is used as an emergency response boat and for city wide emergencies on or near the waterfront.

Until the arrival of the Kennedy, the boats were painted red and black but starting with the Kennedy, they have been painted Orange and Blue- the official New York City Colors along with the other boats that were in service when the Kennedy was put into service..

We now visit the 2 ferry terminals:

Saint George (1 Bay Street at Richmond Terrace) This terminal is currently undergoing renovation and expansion; a site revisit will be done once the terminal is almost complete. The elements of the new look terminal will remain the same as the former terminal, it has 3 slips within a waiting area, 4 bus ramps marked Ramp A through Ramp D for transfers to over 25 NYCT local and limited stop bus routes, passage to 2 NYC DOT operated parking lots, and stairs down to the Staten Island Railway. Along the floor of the waiting area is artwork (untitled and uncredited) showing a drawing of the NY Harbor and the 2 ferry terminals. There are small bubble circles drawn along the "ocean" clearly indicating the ferry’s route. Future improvements to this terminal are a direct exit to Richmond Terrace, a taxi stand downstairs, and retail space.

Whitehall

(State Street & South Street) This terminal will be the crown jewel of the Staten Island ferry once it reaches 100% completion. It features improved accessibility, easier use, and will have new retail businesses. The entrance now has 34 doors, 10 staircases and five escalators. The amenities are clearly marked in big bold letters about 10 feet high, examples are H2O for a water fountain, ??? for tourist and ferry information, and male/female symbols for restrooms, etc. The mezzanine is upstairs in the center with 3 slips clearly identified by LED displays showing the correct berth loading and date/time. People exiting from the ferry will use passageways going around the main terminal so as not to interfere with traffic. For the very first time, the IRT South Ferry subway entrance is now directly inside the ferry terminal, no longer you have to go outside to enter subway. The Whitehall/BMT subway entrance remains outside the ferry terminal, however with the upcoming South Ferry subway station reconstruction project that may change for the better. Large Times Square-like neon like lettering of STATEN ISLAND FERRY is currently being installed outside the ferry entrance.

In both terminals, there are turnstiles installed just before the waiting area. While no fare is collected at either end, and no turnstiles are active and have no barrier arms , they are there to keep a passenger count as per regulations issued by the authorities. An electric eye counts the people as they pass through the turnstile 

The Governor's Island Ferry (Not run by NYC DOT) leaves from a separate terminal in lower Manhattan. This terminal can be seen from the NYC DOT Ferry terminal and is located further South. Information obtained from the Coast Guard has shed more light on this ferry operation but even the Coast Guard did not have full information.  Assistance was also rendered by former servicemen from the Coast Guard and Army for digging up the limited information.

We thank the Coast Guard and military personnel  for their assistance in furnishing the information

Governors Island Coast Guard Ferries, 1966-1997 (Table furnished by the Coast Guard)

Major General A 500-ton ferry that began service while Governors Island was under Army control. She continued in service after the Coast Guard took over the Island. She remained in service until 1970.

The Tides A 774-ton ferry that began service in 1966. She was a former New York City ferry.

Lieutenant Samuel S. Coursen A diesel-engined, 869-ton ferry that began service on 10 January 1957 and continued when the Coast Guard took over the island in 1966. She was named for a Medal of Honor awardee.

Private Nicholas Minue A diesel-engined, 869-ton ferry that began service on 10 January 1957 and continued when the Coast Guard took over the island in 1966. She was named for a Medal of Honor awardee.

Governor A 1,600-ton ferry that began service in 1982. She was a former Puget Sound ferry.

Sources:

Cutter History File. USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.

Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press,

 

 

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 Last revised1/20/13

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