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 !