Staten Island Ferry: The First 100 Years of Municipal Service

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Explore the history, art, people and sites of Staten Island’s floating icon. Coinciding with the Ferry’s Centennial Anniversary in 2005, the Staten Island Museum opened a new permanent exhibition celebrating one of NYCs best-loved icons, the Staten Island Ferry. The Ferry is the second most visited site in NYC (after the Statue of Liberty) with over 65,000 people riding the ferry daily. Only a short, 5-minute walk from the St. George Ferry Terminal, the Staten Island Museum has long been the interpreter of the Staten Island Ferry. Our Ferry Collection was initiated by our Co-Founder William T. Davis, whose grandfather, John C. Thompson, was superintendent of the then privately-operated Staten Island Ferry from the 1850s to 1870s. Having operated a small museum at the St. George Ferry Terminal for nearly two decades (prior to the current reconstruction of the terminal), we know that the topic of the Staten Island Ferry is of great interest to children and adults alike.

In 1905, a nickel bought a ride aboard one of the new coal burning city steam ferries, each named for a borough of New York. Today “the Boat”, as locals so affectionately call it, carries over 19 million passengers annually on the peaceful and better yet, FREE trip across the harbor. On a typical day 104 trips move upward of 65,000 people cross the harbor, making the Staten Island Ferry the most reliable form of mass transit in the city, if not the country, running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NYC is truly the city that never sleeps.

Captured many times over in art, literature, film, and music, the Staten Island Ferry has become a New York icon and unofficial symbol of the borough of Staten Island. This exhibition is supported by a major grant from the Achelis Foundation with additional support from the Staten Island Advance.

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