The Staten Island Ferry is one of New York City’s true bargains. The free ferry ride connects lower Manhattan with Staten Island and offers incredible views of the skyscrapers in lower Manhattan as well as Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Ferry service between lower Manhattan and Staten Island began in the early 1700’s. The original service was operated by sail-powered craft. Steam-powered ferries were not added until 1817. After several accidents, the city of New York acquired the ferry service in 1901, but kept the steam-powered ferries in service until the mid-1980’s. The ferry fare, five cents for years, increased to 25 cents in the 1980’s. After much debate, however, the fare was discontinued completely in 1997.
Staten Island Ferry Facts
• The Staten Island Ferry transports over 20 million passengers each year, an average of 70,000 per day.
• The Ferry service has been featured in a number of popular movies and TV programs, including “Working Girl” with Melanie Griffith, an “I Love Lucy” episode, and “The Secret of My Success” with Michael J. Fox.
• The Staten Island Ferry boats make approximately 33,000 trips each year.
• The original ferries were painted white, but were changed to orange for better visibility in the rain and fog.
• Old ferryboats have found new life in and around New York City – one is a restaurant in New Jersey and two are used as prisoner dormitories at Riker’s Island.
Taking the Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry departs from Whitehall Street, near Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and arrives at the St. Georges Ferry Terminal at Richmond Terrace on Staten Island. The 5.2-mile journey is free and takes approximately 25 minutes each way. Bicycles are permitted on the lower deck at no charge, but vehicles are no longer permitted on the ferry. The Staten Island Ferry schedule operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Frequency varies with the time of day, but rarely do you have to wait more than 15 minutes for a ferry.
Parking facilities are available on Staten Island at the St. Georges Ferry Terminal. On the Manhattan side, the ferry docks near subway and bus transportation.
Visiting Staten Island
Staten Island, arguably the least well known of the five New York City boroughs, has a wealth of museums and historic sites to interest visitors arriving on the ferry. Right across from St. Georges Terminal is the Staten Island Museum. This comprehensive museum, founded in 1881, has a permanent collection including a large body of Italian Renaissance paintings; a section on the art and culture of the Lenape tribe, the first inhabitants of Staten Island; and an exhibit on the history of the Staten Island Ferry, among other things. Temporary exhibits, such as a recent display of historic baseball cards, augment the permanent collection.
Another highlight of Staten Island is Historic Richmond Town. This 100-acre living museum features 15 restored 18th and 19th century residential and commercial buildings as well as a museum, filled with objects from the island’s colorful past. Richmond Town was the site of one of the original Dutch settlements in the area and later became a British stronghold prior to the Revolutionary War. Historic Richmond Town is reached by a bus that leaves directly from the ferry terminal. Admission is modest and discounts are offered for students and seniors.
Taking the Staten Island Ferry is a delight for visitors and residents alike. The views of the city and the Statue of Liberty are some of the best in the world – and it’s all for free.
Location: 1 Whitehall Street at South Street
Click to visit Staten Island Ferry website.
Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.