For more than 200 years, the Staten Island Ferry’s iconic orange fleet has easily become one of the most recognized symbols of our borough. These boats transport millions of passengers across the Hudson River from the St. George Ferry Terminal to Manhattan’s Whitehall in downtown Battery Park. Whether for business or pleasure, the panoramic views of the Verrazano Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and New York City skyline make this mode of transportation truly one-of-a-kind. With such deep-rooted NYC history, check out these 8 secrets of the Staten Island Ferry.
- It wasn’t always orange: While it’s hard to imagine the Staten Island Ferry without its distinctive bright orange paint, its original color was actually a much more boring white. White boats were a trend in the early 1900s. However, in 1926 the city opted to change the color in favor of the burnt-orange alternative. The color choice helped allow the boats to be easily seen in fog and snow, increasing the overall safety of the crew and passengers.
- Vanderbilt Family Money Started the Fleet: In 1810, 16-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt received $100 for his birthday. He used the money to purchase a periauger boat and started a ferry and freight service. Vanderbilt would take people, cargoes of fish, and produce from Manhattan to Staten Island. His business grew so quickly, he eventually enlisted the help of his brother-in-law to create the first motorized ferry in New York City. The family bought up all the other competition and established the Staten Island Ferry route.
- It Wasn’t Always A Free Ride: Throughout the history of the Staten Island Ferry, the cost has ranged from a nickel to fifty cents per passenger. On July 4, 1997, New York City decided to do away with any cost to ferry goers, establishing the 30-minute ride would remain free for all.
- It is the Most Reliable NYC Transportation: The ferry carries approximately 25 million passengers annually on a 5.2-mile run. Boats operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On a typical weekday, five boats make 117 trips, carrying approximately 75,000 passengers. Unlike the New York City subway system, the Department of Transportation (DOT) boasts the Staten Island Ferry is on time for close to 92% of its rides.
- The Ferry Was Once Separated by Gender: The Staten Island Ferry was once divided into a men and women’s section. In the early years of the NYC Ferry system, restrooms were divided on either side of the boats; men were on one side and women were sent to the other. In an effort to make life easier for passengers who needed to locate restrooms, signs were made so they wouldn’t circle the boats trying to find them. It was because of these signs that men often sat in one section of the ferry and women were asked to sit on the other.
- The Staten Island Ferry was part of the 9/11 Boatlift: The Staten Island Ferry, along with all other ferries serving the city, relocated tens of thousands of people out of harm’s way during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Staten Island Ferry Boat captains sailed in nearly zero visibility helping save countless lives by bringing people from the devastated financial district to the safety of St. George Terminal.
- The Ferry Once Carried More Than Just People: In the 19th century, the Staten Island ferry moved horses. With the evolution of automotive technology, those horses were eventually replaced by cars that were allowed on the boat for the cost of $3. However, after the September 11th attacks, the ferry banned cars altogether.
- NASDAQ Paid for the Latest Boat: The newest addition to the DOT fleet is the American Legion. It was purchased with $1 million dollars that were donated by the NASDAQ Disaster Relief Fund to enable the Department of Transportation (DOT) to respond to emergency situations in and around lower Manhattan. Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in Somerset, Massachusetts built the vessel, which was delivered in March 2007. The new boat can hold 12 passengers in addition to its crew and has a top speed of 30 knots.
Are you in the market for a home with an iconic view of the Staten Island Ferry? Holly’s Staten Island Buzz Realty Inc. is here to help! Check out homes in St. George and surrounding areas near the iconic Staten Island Ferry, some properties which can provide you with a daily glimpse of this quintessential orange fleet.
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