The Staten Island Ferry today remains a lifeline to Staten Island, as it is still heavily traveled by Staten Islanders for work and pleasure. The area of St. George grew up around the ferry. St. George was more or less a rural outpost until the ferry started landing at its present location in the the late 1800s. Other ferry services from Staten Island existed in other locations, but only one remains, the Staten Island Ferry, which docks just a hop-skip-and-a jump from the St. George Library Center.
One thing I find interesting about the picture above is that between the ages of about 5 years old and 25, I must have ridden the ferry about 100 times, and I never went to the Statue of Liberty, until an out-of-town friend came to visit. Then I went to see it!
In 1975 I was in the Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I ran into someone who, when I told him I was from Staten Island, told me that the Staten Island Ferry fare was going up from 5 cents (one way) to, I think, 10 cents one way. I was shocked! However, it is now free both ways, which was done a number of years ago so Staten Islanders could get into Manhattan paying only one fare. We used to have to pay for a local bus or train to get us to the ferry, pay for the ferry, and then pay again for the subway. Now it is only one fare to use all three.
One of the worst things for a Staten Islander is to be coming home from a night in Manhattan, getting off the subway just past the half hour, for example, 1:31AM, 2:31AM, etc, and seeing the boat pulling out, knowing that you have to wait almost a full hour for another one. And if the next one gets cancelled...Oh well, the joys of living on an island!
Recently terminals on both the Manhattan and Staten Island side had major renovations done. Both are relatively bright and airy places now, and an attempt is being made to open up more shops in both terminals. That will be a welcome addition. The Staten Island side also has a recently opened Tourist/Information Kiosk. The numbers of tourists on the weekends are staggering.
Some materials related to the Staten Island Ferry that you can place on hold from the collections of NYPL are: