Staten Island Ferry Route Adventures: Scenic Sights and City Skylines  Note

The Staten Island Ferry leaves Manhattan 117 times each weekday for Staten Island and 88 times on Saturday and Sunday. I love riding the ferry because it is where I first met my wife. Secondly, it is so easy to see many iconic sites along the way, making it an exciting ride since I love history. I never check the schedule since it runs about every 20 minutes.

History of the Staten Island Ferry

I am so glad that I did not check the Staten Island Ferry schedule today because while waiting for the ferry, I began talking to a local history teacher. I loved his passion for the area. He told me Cornelius Vanderbilt may have paid for the first commercial ferry system going from Manhattan to Staten Island. It is very likely that the first Staten Island ferry routes ran only when there was enough demand.

In 1905, New York City purchased various ferry services and started operating the Staten ferry route of Staten Island Ferry as a public service. Then, the Staten Island Ferry route became much more standardized.

When the ferry arrived, I raced up the ferry’s stairs to get to my favorite outdoor viewing spot. I was so excited to see that the teacher had done the same thing. He would continue standing next to me throughout the ride, filling me in on details I did not know. That made this trip, which I have made several times, even more special.

Manhattan Skyline

View from Staten Island Ferry
I love looking at the Manhattan skyline as the ferry leaves the terminal. As the ferry passes Lower Manhattan, I love seeing if I can pick out One World Trade Center, while in Midtown Manhattan, I love seeing if I can spot the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.

Battery Park

As the Staten Island Ferry route nears the south end of Manhattan, the green spaces of Battery Park appear. While many people look at a map of the Staten Island Ferry route about this time, I love seeing:

  • Battery Maritime Building
  • Pier A
  • Castle Clinton
  • East Coast Memorial
  • The Sphere

Governors Island

I always love playing a game when the ferry nears Governors Island to see if I can spot it during that particular ferry ride. If you want to play the game, the island is about 800 yards from the southern tip of Manhattan. Since catching a glimpse of this island can be challenging, you will want to study a map of the Staten Island Ferry route to understand better when to look. It is often easier to spot on the ferry’s return trip.

As we pass the island’s location, the teacher asked me if I knew this was one of the first places where Dutch settlers lived when they immigrated to America. Starting in 1664, the British controlled the island and used it as a home for colonial governors. The U.S. military took over control of the island in 1794.

The United States Coast Guard used Governors Island as an important military training ground and strategic base from 1966 to 1996. Today, part of the island is home to Governors Island National Monument.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty from Staten Island Ferry
My heart always swells with pride when I catch my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. In my opinion, unless you have tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty’s crown, the best views of the Statue of Liberty are from the Staten Island Ferry.

The Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall, including its pedestal. As the ferry draws closer, I notice the tablet she holds in her hand. It is inscribed with the date America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

In her other hand, she is holding a torch. The statue’s designer, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, chose to have her hold a torch to symbolize enlightenment and freedom. The French government gave the Statue of Liberty to the American people, and it was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

Ellis Island

One thing that I love to do is change the side of the ferry I am on when traveling to and from Staten Island because it makes it easier to get good views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The teacher reminded me that the island’s red-brick building, now the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, served as the nation’s primary immigrant processing center from 1892 to 1954. He said it is estimated the government processed over 12 million people into the country in this building.

Brooklyn Bridge

Staten Island Ferry BoatI always get excited when the exact route of the Staten Island Ferry allows me to glimpse the side of the Brooklyn Bridge. While I love its architectural details, the teacher asked me if I knew much about the bridge, and I had to confess my ignorance.

He said workers finished building this truss and cable bridge in 1883, but people were scared to use it because they feared it was not stable enough to carry a load. In order to prove them wrong, P.T. Barnum led 21 elephants across the bridge. Today, about 100,000 vehicles and 4,000 pedestrians cross the bridge daily.

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

As I neared the end of my Staten Island Ferry route, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge appeared. Again, I was thankful to be traveling with the teacher because he filled me in on details about this bridge. He said that workers completed building it in 1964. At that time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the Americas and continued to hold that distinction for the next 34 years.

Officials named the bridge after explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European to explore the Hudson River and New York Harbor.

He also reminded me that it is the starting point for the New York City Marathon.

Staten Island Ferry Terminal

St George Ferry Terminal

I highly recommend taking the Staten Ferry route the next time you want to go to Staten Island. When you do, I hope you enjoy seeing some of these iconic sites along the Staten Island Ferry route. With ferries leaving about every 20 minutes, skip checking the Staten Island Ferry schedule today and head to Whitehill Terminal to get on the ferry to ride along the Staten ferry route as soon as possible.


This is in a video, what you will find if you visit Staten Island !

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