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The Staten Island Ferry (referred to as "Ferry" in the rest of this writeup) connects northern Staten Island with the southern tip of Manhattan. A one-way trip takes approx. 30 minutes. All Ferryboats are passenger, and about half can carry cars as well. All boats are fully-covered and heated/air-conditioned, so are comfortable year-round. Each boat has a capacity of several thousand.

The Ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There's a set schedule, which has Ferry runs as frequently as every 15 minutes (during morning and evening rush hours), and as sparse as every hour (during overnight hours and weekend mornings).

There are two main types of Ferryboats. The older Kennedy-class ships can carry cars, as well as passengers. This allows those who want to drive from Staten Island to Manhattan (or the opposite direction) to go on the boat, and not have to drive through Brooklyn or New Jersey (there are not any roadways that directly connect Staten Island and Manhattan). Seats on the Kennedy boats are hard wooden benches.

The other type of boat, the Newhouse-class ships, are newer, but can not carry cars. Seats are individual multicolored plastic (I think?).

Overnight, there's a smaller ship (possibly two. I don't travel at night very much) that looks like a Kennedy ship, but doesn't carry cars I don't believe.

The Ferry is free, and is popular with tourists, as it passes The Statue of Liberty and is ideal for pictures. It's also the method of transportation for a large number of Staten Islanders (including myself) who work in Manhattan. Wall Street and the World Trade Center are within walking distance of the Manhattan terminal.

At both Ferry terminals, there's connections to subway/train and buses, as well as taxis.

The Ferry has been immortalized in the movie Working Girl (why did I originally think Pretty Woman?) and also in the opening montage of Late Show with David Letterman.

Ferry Terminals

In this corner...
A large building resembling a Micro Machines playset, sitting at the northern end of Staten Island, and facing Manhattan. Designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, in 1951, after the original burnt down in 1946. This terminal is located in St. George, a neighborhood that might almost be called urban if it weren't for the fact that it is still attached to Staten Island. The terminal is not only the end point for tourists riding in from Manhattan, but is also the last stop on the Staten Island Railroad and eighteen local bus lines. It contains two floors, four bus ramps, three newsstands, and the occassional pigeon on a cold day.

The architecture is...perpetually under construction. Work began in 1991. Currently, the entrance opening upon Bus Ramp A is closed for remodeling; meanwhile, the street that leads into Ramp D is lined with a plywood fence and breathless warnings not to walk there.

On October 15, 2003, there was an accident at this terminal. The pilot of the Andrew J. Barberi crashed into one of the piers, killing 11 of the passengers. Although accidental (he had passed out at the helm, alledgedly due to his blood pressure medication), the pilot ran home and tried to commit suicide by slashing a wrist and shooting himself with a pellet gun. Neither were effective. The captain of the ferry was fired after he refused to speak to investigators.

Buses: S40, S42, S44, S46, S48, S51, S52, S61, S62, S66, S67, S74, S76, S78, S91, S92, S94, S98
Trains: Rapid Transit

...and way over there
The Whitehall station in lower Manhattan is where most of the tourists who ride the ferry start their trip. I myself am not too familiar with it. I've only been there once, and mostly remember standing outside near a railing, the ground bizarrely lacquered.

December 2004 Update! I've had much much experience with Whitehall as of late. The strange, "outdoor" place I described would seem to be ajacent to the main waiting area. It's a rather dingy room, full of wooden benches that have seen decades and decades of New York history (in other words, they're absolutely covered in grafitti). There's a single newstand by the far wall, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bay, and many, many pigeons, even in the summer.

The terminal is surronded by plywood, orange plastic netting, hotdog carts, and guys trying to make a living selling five dollar "I♥NY" T-shirts. A subway station leading to the other boroughs is right off Whitehall. Another subway station, with lines leading up Manhattan, is a few yards away. You can also easily walk to Battery Park or the old Customs House from there, if you're so inclined.

Whitehall was originally built in 1907, then underwent reconstruction (renovation?) in 1954. In September 1991, a fire destroyed the ceiling and roof, and it was closed for most of 1992. However, a new major round of construction didn't begin until eight years later. Construction was slated to end last year (2003)...which it didn't. Delays were attributed to the security lockdown following September 11, 2001, and harsh winter weather.

Buses: M1, M6, M15
Subways & Trains: 1/9, 4, 5, N, R

Sources: http://www.siferry.com/

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