NEW YORK: Visitors to New York City will find a new adventure on the water if they take a ride on the East River Ferry.
The ferry links Manhattan with five stops in Queens and Brooklyn and, on weekends, Governors Island.
The sleek double-decker catamaran vessels run every 20 to 30 minutes, crossing the East River, and offer an unbelievable eight-minute trip between Greenpoint and 34th Street. There’s even free bus service during rush hour, taking riders across 34th Street to Sixth Avenue, then over 38th Street to Lexington and back to the dock. A ticket for the ferry costs $4 for passengers and an extra dollar for bikes, and the bus is free.
It takes 30 minutes to ride the entire route from East Midtown at 34th Street to Wall Street/Pier 11, with stops along the way at Long Island City, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg and DUMBO (as any New Yorker will tell you, that’s the District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) before reaching Wall Street. An all-day pass costs $12 and allows passengers unlimited access, with lots of places to visit along the way.
The East River Ferry has become so popular that many New Yorkers are now sailing to work. In July, Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the 1 millionth passenger on board, noting that in just one year, the ferry had surpassed its expected 400,000 riders. Noticing the crowded docks one tourist was heard to utter the immortal words from the movie Jaws: “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
Besides the wonderful views of the city, the ferry provides easy transportation for residents and tourists; and an all-day pass allows visits to attractions in multiple boroughs, including the burgeoning Gold Coast in Queens and Brooklyn. There are public parks such as McGolrick Park at Greenpoint and Brooklyn Bridge Park, both perfect places for a summer picnic.
Greenpoint is a trendy neighborhood with shops and restaurants just a short walk from the India Street dock, including the patio at Papacitas Mexican Restaurant at Manhattan Avenue and Huron Street, and lobster rolls at the Lobster Joint, a short walk away at 1073 Manhattan Ave.
Be sure to ride Jane’s Carousel at DUMBO. The historical carousel was built in 1922, and Ohioans may remember riding it during the many years it was at Idora Park in Youngstown.
Cool off in the sprinklers at Brooklyn Bridge Park, or have a slice of pizza at Grimaldi’s Pizzaria on Old Fulton Street. For dessert, enjoy ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory at Old Fulton and Water streets, or coffee at the Brooklyn Roasting Co.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the last stop for the East River Ferry is historical Governors Island. A former military post, Governors Island played a role in every major American military engagement since the Revolutionary War.
Located one-half mile off the southern tip of Manhattan, Governors Island offers dramatic views of the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.
A visit to Governors Island can be an all-day adventure. This 172-acre island offers trails, free miniature golf, fairs and festivals.
Park rangers lead guided tours, walking or biking around the island, and bike rentals are available.
The fortifications on the island were built to protect New York City during the War of 1812.
Castle Williams, the centerpiece of these fortifications, opened this summer to the public for guided tours. For a schedule of activities and tours, call 212-825-3045 or visit www.nps.gov/gois.
Whether you take a seat inside the comfortable cabin, or outside with the wind in your face, the East River Ferry is a New York adventure.
For information, visit www. nywaterway.com/ERF.