Staten Island Ferry

I was born on Staten Island, but never lived there. However I spent many days there. My father was retired from the US Coast Guard and our family received medical care at the US Public Health Hospital located there. We also were able to do our monthly shopping at Fort Wadsworth at the Post Exchange and Commissary, and went to the swimming pool there in the summer.

With all of the back and forth over the Goethals Bridge, we often would take the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan and drive home via the Holland Tunnel. One of my earliest memories if of driving our 1963 Chevy Impala onto the ferry and being scared about being on a boat. It seemed like a grand adventure. The noise of the engines, the rattles and creaks, and the breeze of salt water and sewage off of NY bay was intoxicating. The bay was pretty filthy in those days.

I remember the thrill of seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, and the grey mass that was lower Manhattan in those days. As we approached the end of our ride, the old ferry terminal looked  decrepit. Slowly everyone would wander back to their cars, and eventually we would feel the engines reverse as the ship slowed, and then ease into the ancient wooden bulkheads which would give way with a groan as they slowed the ferry even more. Then finally a slight thud as the lip of the ferry met the edge of the terminal. As the ramp from the terminal was lowered to the deck everyone would start their engines and slowly begin to drive away as we were waved on by the deck hands.

I also remember the people that I would see on the ferry. The well dressed and the downtrodden sharing the same quarters and their sense of boredom. Everyone who would make the trek on a regular basis just wanted the ride to be over. They were stuck in a sort of limbo, neither here nor there and couldn't enjoy the journey. And it time over many years, as grew older and had my own destinations in mind, I came to recognize their sentiment. 

Fortunately being a photographer has made me appreciate the journeys that I take through the act of seeing, and consequently feeling. So now, I ride the ferry to soak up the feeling of the people with whom I share the same quarters. These days there are more tourists than commuters on the weekends when I have the time to take my rides. But the regulars are still there, and that is good, for they are why the ferry exists.

071215_2472_NYC Staten Island Ferry
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