In January 2014 I was looking for cemeteries in Staten Island (like Queens, the borough has several small and unfamiliar ones) and boarded the John J. Marchi ferryboat for the ride home at dusk, and it was at that time of day just before the sun sets when the sky sometimes turns an odd shade of peach. Upper New York Bay was unusually busy with boat traffic of all types: container vessels, tugboats, other ferries, cruise ships. In season you can also see sailboats and skiffs of various sizes, along with “water taxis” of various proprietors; probably the most noticeable one, New York Water Taxi, is black and yellow with a Checker Cab motif.
There has been a bigger push for utilizing NYC’s waterways as mass transit across the Hudson and East Rivers. Yet the idea has never really caught on. The city will have to adjust its transit infrastructure to include such water taxis and build dedicated bus lanes, with true separation by median, up to the water’s edge, and supply heated/air conditioned, roofed shelters, in order to make water commutation as patronized as that by subway. The city has begin to do this at Pier 11, the east end of Wall Street near the Seaport, which is served by both Water Taxi and NY Waterway. Many shelters are open to the elements, at the end of dead-end streets — no way to get people to ride your ferryboat.
The famed Staten Island Ferry is the modern descendant of a ferry begun by Cornelius Vanderbilt — one of his first ventures — in the 1810s. It is a division of the NYC Department of Transportation but is subsidized by bus and transit fares, and thus is ‘free’ of charge, and has been for a few decades now; before that, a ride cost a quarter. Its large orange and blue boats carry millions of passengers annually. The passengers fall mainly into two classes: workaday commuters from Staten Island, who go back and forth to Manhattan to board subways uptown, or work in the Financial District; and tourists from all over the planet, who use it for joyrides to and from Staten Island to view the greatest harbor in the world. They make a U-turn through the terminal on the Staten Island side, and then take the trip back. I fall into neither of these two classes: I take the ferry to Staten Island, and then actually poke around with my camera for a few hours, which apparently makes me one of the very few New Yorkers not born in Staten Island who is interested in Staten Island. There is talk about building the world’s largest Ferris wheel in Staten Island to induce tourists to actually leave the terminal.
The John J. Marchi was named for a Republican NY State Senator who served for fifty years (1957-2006) and ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 1969 and 1973. The ferryboat entered service on May 31, 2005, and thus Marchi, who lived until 2009, saw the ferry bearing his name enter into service. It was constructed by the Marinette Marine shipyards of Wisconsin.
The Marchi was forced to remain in the terminal for a few minutes to allow a container vessel and an oil tanker to pass. This one belongs to the Hapag-Lloyd firm, a global liner shipping company formed in 1970 by the merger of Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag/Hamburg-American Line) and North German Lloyd (NDL). The older of the two, Hapag, was founded in 1847, and NDL in 1857.
Accompanying another container vessel was the Laura K. Moran tug. It has been in service for the Moran Towing Corporation since 2008 and was built by by Washburn and Doughty Associates of East Boothbay, Maine. [More photos at Tugster]
Automobiles haven’t been allowed on the various Staten Island ferries for over a decade, but when they were, motorists would drive onto the lower deck, as shown here. The ferry terminal in Staten Island has an intricate ramp system that used to handle thousands of cars, but now serves only the bus lines that radiate from the terminal, as well as pickups and dropoffs.
The Robbins Reef lighthouse is backdropped by New Jersey’s tallest building, 30 Hudson Street (the Goldman Sachs Tower), in Jersey City. For many years, the lighthouse was “minded” or overseen by German immigrant Kate Gortler, who was credited with saving 50 lives during her career.
Here’s an even closer view of the Robbins Reef lighthouse, but I can’t ID the structure adjoining it. Anybody know what it is?
At 1776 feet tall, #1 World Trade Center has officially been named the country’s tallest building, even though Chicago’s Willis Tower is 100 feet taller. It’s all about technicalities: 1WTC’s antenna is considered part of the building’s structure, while the Willis Tower’s antennas (antennae?) weren’t, by an entity known as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. 1WTC’s developers call the antenna a mast and it’s considered part and parcel of the building’s design.
When 25 members of the council’s height committee met in Chicago on Friday, they heard the spire argument from the chief architect, David Childs of the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and representatives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which developed the trade center.
The New York contingent said the spire had always been part of the plan to achieve the symbolic height of 1,776 feet.
The committee members unanimously agreed that the spire should be counted, said Timothy Johnson, the council’s chairman and a partner in NBBJ, a design firm. New York Times
Your webmaster thinks the fix was always in.
The Peter F. Gellatly first saw service in 2008 when it was constructed by Thoma-Sea Boatbuilders of Houma, Louisiana for Gellatly Criscione Services of NYC. In 2012 she was acquired by Vane Line Bunkering of Baltimore, Maryland, hence the “V.” It’s not to be confused with the much older Peter F. Gellatly tug, built in 1968 and based in Virginia.
A view of the Gellatly and the Robbins Reef lighthouse.
Approaching to port was the cruise vessel Norwegian Breakaway. It is one of the newer ships of the Norwegian Cruise Line (launched in April 2013), and was named in a contest in USA Today along with a sister vessel, the Norwegian Getaway. If the hull paintings look somewhat familiar, that’s because they are the work of German-born, NYC-based pop artist Peter Max. It’s the world’s 5th-largest cruise ship.
The tug Matthew Tibbetts accompanies a barge vessel. It is one o the more venerable vessels seen on today’s ride–it was completed in 1969 at Main Iron Works of Houma, Louisiana as the Ocean Tower for Dann Ocean Towing of Tampa, Florida.
She was later chartered under Baleen Towing, of Boston, Massachusetts. This company was a joint venture between Reinauer Transportation and Jake Tibbetts (son of Boston Fuel and Towing’s President at the time.) The Franklin Reinauer featured a single “B” in the diamond on the stack, in the late 1970′s the single “B” was replaced with the “BFT” in the diamond.
When Reinauer Transportation took delivery of the currentFranklin Reinauer (built in 1984) the original Franklin Reinauer was renamed as the Matthew Tibbetts. It is said that the renaming corresponded with the purchase of the Boston Fuel Transportation barges BFT 38 and BFT 39 in 1980/1981.
Although, in the late 1990′s, environmental regulations called for vapor recovery systems be installed for the transfer of gasoline from shore side to barges. Since the oil terminals in the port of Boston opted not to install the systems. The Mathew Tibbetts and most of the barges were transferred to Reinauer Transportation’s operations in New York where vapor recovery systems were already in place. Tugboat Information
The Guy V. Molinari ferryboat follows the Norwegian Breakaway. It is named for the former U.S. Representative and Staten Island borough president born in 1928. The ferry entered service on January 25, 2005.
The “Shining City” as the Newtown Pentacle guy calls it, begins to loom into view from the bow. In NYC you are never far from a body of water — in fact, several of them. Many of the world’s great cities are landlocked, except for their rivers, but NYC is ensconced in one of the world’s greatest natural harbors, which was instrumental in its becoming the world’s capital of commerce. New York Upper Bay, on which we are traveling, lies between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Bayonne, NJ. It is fed by the Hudson and East Rivers, and the Gowanus Canal and the Kill Van Kull issue from it. Governors Island, Liberty Island and Ellis Island sit within its waters. Upper New York Bay is separated from its Lower counterpart by the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, which is bridged by the Verrazano-Narrows. Its distance between Lower Manhattan and St. George is approximately five miles, which takes the ferry 25 minutes to traverse.
The uptown King of All Buildings peeks through its taller, but inferior, downtown challengers. A very brief period of pink illumination is provided by the setting sun. At the bottom of the picture you can glimpse Pier A, completed in 1886, the same year as a certain lady named Liberty, to serve the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police. Its clock tower was added in 1919 as a World War I memorial. The city used it as a fireboat station in the 1990s, but it has been left idle for a couple of decades, as developer after developer fumbled the ball when attempting to revive it. Eventually it is supposed to house a number of restaurants, but the opening date has been repeatedly pushed back.
To paraphrase Felicia Hemans, the boy stood on the bounding deck, looking toward Brooklyn. There is nothing quite as bone chilling as standing on the bow of the Staten Island Ferry in the dead of winter, facing the howling north wind.
The NYC area’s largest lighthouse. Lady Liberty was dedicated in 1886 and was actually counted as a lighthouse until 1902. Liberty weighs 225 tons and wears size 879 sandals. The entire landmark is 305 feet in height.
Liberty is often imitated, but never duplicated. There are numerous replicas all over the globe, including the 35-foot tall Liberty that stood atop the Liberty Warehouse on West 64th Street near Lincoln Center from 1902-2002 and is currently in the parking lot of the Brooklyn Museum.
I got this shot by zooming toward the back end of the ferry. I was attracted by the last bit of sunlight and the odd pink sky. The gull happened by at a good time.
One of the oldest structures on Governors Island is Castle Williams, a War of 1812-era battlement. A historic sign affixed next to it reads:
With walls forty feet high and eight feet thick, this red sandstone bastion bristled with over one hundred cannons when it was completed in 1811. Named after its designer, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Williams, it has also been nicknamed the ìCheeseboxî because of its circular shape. Castle Williams, with its twin fort, Castle Clinton in the Battery, was built to guard the waterway between Governors Island and New York City. Together these forts provided such a formidable defense that the British fleet never attempted to attack New York City during the War of 1812. Today, it is under the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard. Plaque provided by the New York Community Trust, 1976.
There was never a shot fired in anger from Castle Williams, but in 1966 when command was changed from the army to the coast guard, the cannons atop the fort were fired ceremoniously. The vibrations from the noise unexpectedly shattered all the windows. The Castle was used as a jail from the Civil War through 1966. Castle Williams held as many as 1,000 Confederate soldiers during the Civil War; several died here and are buried at Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn. Walt Disney and Rocky Graziano were both imprisoned here at one point for being AWOL from the army. Several prisoners are said to have escaped from here and successfully swam to Brooklyn. Castle Williams is called a “castle” not because of its shape or because it housed royalty, but because it was built entirely of stone. Structures built of stone along with wood and other materials bear the name of “fort.” [from FNY's Governors Island page]
The setting sun illuminated the westward-facing windows of One Hanson Place. The 45-story tower was completed in 1929 and originally housed the offices of the Williamsburg Savings Bank, and the bank’s public areas and teller windows have been retained on the ground floor. After many years as host to a number of oral surgeons and dentists (hence its nickname “The House of Pain,”) the tower was converted to luxury residential about a decade ago and given its new name.
A look from the bow of the Marchi toward lower Manhattan. The curved columnar building in front is 17 State Street, which occupies the old Seaman’s Institute and, going further back, the house where Herman Melville was born.
As darkness descends the Marchi is about to arrive at the new Manhattan ferry terminal, opened in early 2005. After a devastating fire in the old terminal (that had stood from 1908) in 1991, nearly 14 years passed before the city was able to settle on an architectural plan for a new terminal.