The Staten Island Ferry … 1957
There’s nothing much hotter than the city streets of Manhattan in summertime and I remember one August Saturday in 1957 in particular. Although I had procured a job I was new to the city and had few friends so on this particular day I was taking a long walk and feeling 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 then, with the exception of the movie theaters, so it was near impossible to find a way to keep cool.
Suddenly I remembered what a long-time resident had told me about the Staten Island Ferry. “It’s the biggest bargain in town“, he’d said so 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 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 it increased slowly 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 is now FREE … amazingly making it an even greater bargain than it was 40 years earlier !