Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Respite from the sizzling streets of NY City…1957


There’s nothing much hotter than the city streets of Manhattan in mid August. This certainly was the case when I lived and worked there. I had acquired my job at WABC Radio in the fall of the previous year so I was unprepared for the changes that occurred when the full blast of summer heat hit NY City.

On this particular Saturday morning in 1957 I was taking a long walk and feeling especially forlorn and sorry for myself. The streets seemed to be deserted and the usual hustle and bustle of the “Big Apple” had come to a standstill. Air conditioning was practically unheard of, with the exception of the movie theaters, so it was near impossible to find a way to keep cool.

The main reason that I felt so low was because most of my friends had fled to the beaches and I couldn’t afford to join them. I was living in Tudor City and the rent, although miniscule by today’s terms, took up most of my paycheck. The longer I walked the more I though of the gentle ocean breezes. I was hot and miserable and green with envy.

Suddenly I remembered what a long-time city resident had told me about the Staten Island Ferry. “It’s the biggest bargain in town“, he said. I decided to give it a try and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’d made since moving to NY City.

The Terminal was near Battery Park and the Subway that I took to get there actually cost more than the ferry ride. 10 cents for the subway and just 5 cents for the ferry. It was mid morning when I boarded the ship and, although it was crowded, there was room for all. I was thrilled to feel a breeze as we took to the open water.

I found my depression ebbing away as I immersed myself in this new adventure. The steam generated ferry seemed to be in no hurry and we had plenty of time to enjoy spectacular views of Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. Within half an hour we had reached Staten Island and I spent a few hours getting acquainted with the town and visiting the local zoo.

The return trip provided even better views. We passed very close to Governor’s Island and watched in awe as the lower Manhattan skyline materialized. It was the perfect ending to an enchanted day and I felt lucky to live in this wonderful city where a nickel could buy such a treat.

That nickel fee for the Staten Island Ferry lasted for many years but steadily increased until it hit a high of 50 cents per ride in the ‘90‘s. Then, in 1997, the city of New York decided to suspend all charges. The same trip that I had enjoyed for 5 cents was now FREE … amazingly making it an even bigger bargain than it had been 40 years earlier !

9 Comments:

Blogger kenju said...

Mr.kenju has always said it is the best thing in NYC to do. Back in the 90's, we took our then son-in-law to the city for a day. He and mr. kenju were both working in NJ then and we joined up for his first intro to the Big Apple. We saw all the normal tourist sites and our trip on the ferry was great - even though we rode it right back to the city. I heartily recommend it to everyone, except in the winter....LOL

2:34 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

What a wonderful story, Ginnie. I have always wanted to see NYC and this just makes me want to more.

Thank you.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I had no idea about the fare or lack of fare.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

What a marvellous post. Gives me an ida for one of my Friday History lessons in the future, the paddle steamers here in Victoria.

4:27 AM  
Blogger KGMom said...

What fun as you recall your experiences, you take us along.
The fare reduction from 5 cents to free is one of the few things in NYC that is less expensive.
My daughter lives there now, and it is very pricey! But it is still the greatest city to live especially when you are young.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

It's been many, many years since I rode the ferry. A wonderful respite from the city, known to most through the movies.

How this story took me back!

12:21 PM  
Anonymous gawilli said...

This sounds wonderful, and how often does it happen that the price ends up lower than it started?

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

What a great story! And I had no idea the ferry is now FREE! That's really cool. I love Manhattan and as many times as I've been there, I've neglected to take the Statin Island ferry. I have done the other one though from Battery Park and near the Statue of Libery. Very impressive skyline and I'm glad I saw it when the Twin Towers was still there and got photos of it.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Melly` said...

I am pretty amazed too at the first low cost and now no cost! But isn't it amazing sometimes how the simplest things can be so very pleasureable? I like to feed the critters at a local pond. It's AMAZING how much better I feel after feeding them.

5:22 PM  

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