Binghamton (ferryboat)

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Binghamton Ferry.JPG
Binghamton at Edgewater, New Jersey
Career
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
Laid down: 1904
Launched: February 20, 1905
In service: April 3, 1905
Out of service: November 22, 1967
Fate: Sold for restaurant conversion, 1969
Status: Restaurant / nightclub (closed), Edgewater, NJ
General characteristics
Tonnage: 1,462 gt
Length: 231 ft (70.4 m)
Draft: 10.5 ft (3.2 m)
Propulsion: Double-compound reciprocating steam engine having four cylinders, rated 1,400 horsepower, taking steam from two coal-fired single-end Scotch boilers (removed) at 150 lbs working pressure, and driving a screw-propeller at each end on continuous shafting
Capacity: 986 passengers (plus vehicles)
Ferryboat Binghamton
Binghamton (ferryboat) is located in Bergen County, New Jersey
Binghamton (ferryboat)
Location 725 River Rd, Edgewater, New Jersey
Coordinates 40°49′10″N 73°58′33″W / 40.81944°N 73.97583°W / 40.81944; -73.97583Coordinates: 40°49′10″N 73°58′33″W / 40.81944°N 73.97583°W / 40.81944; -73.97583
Built 1904-05
Architect Gardner & Cox
Architectural style July 9, 1982[2]
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 82003262[1]
NJRHP # 464[3]
Designated NJRHP May 11, 1982

The Binghamton is a retired ferryboat that operated from 1905 to 1967 transporting passengers across the Hudson River between Manhattan and Hoboken. She was built for the Hoboken Ferry Company of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad and was designed to carry 986 passengers plus vehicles.[4] Binghamton has been permanently moored at Edgewater, Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, since 1971. The US Department of the Interior added her to the National Register of Historic Places on July 9, 1982. Operated as a floating restaurant from 1975 to 2007, the vessel is now closed and awaiting reuse.

The Binghamton is significant as possibly the last surviving steam ferry still afloat built to serve New York Harbor, the birthplace of commercial steam navigation, the birthplace of the double-ended steam ferry, and an area whose development was profoundly shaped by the introduction of vessels of this kind.

Background[edit]

John Stevens of Hoboken inaugurated the world's first steam ferry service between Hoboken and Manhattan in 1811.

Until the Pennsylvania Railroad built Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and tunneled under the Hudson River, all New York-bound rail lines from the west terminated at the New Jersey shoreline of New York Harbor. Accordingly, a number of independent and railroad-affiliated ferry companies provided passenger and light freight service across the harbor. One particular type of ferryboat, the "double-ender," was especially common in New York Harbor.

Steam navigation met its first commercial success in New York Harbor, with the voyage of Robert Fulton's North River Steamboat (Clermont) from New York to Albany in 1807. Four years later, in 1811, John Stevens inaugurated what is thought to be the world's first steam ferry service on the Hudson River between Hoboken and Manhattan with the vessel Juliana. The first American double-ended ferries appeared the following year with the paddle-wheelers Jersey and York of Robert Fulton's York & Jersey Steamboat Ferry Company.[5] Excellent for transporting vehicles, the double-enders were well adapted to New York Harbor, where there was considerable demand for speed and efficiency (vehicles could drive on-and-off from either end and time consuming turns were not necessary). It has been estimated that over 400 double-ended ferries operated in New York Harbor during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The peak years were 1906-1908 when approximately 150 double-ended ferries were in service in the Harbor.[6]

The Hoboken Ferry Company was a subsidiary of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The company had a fleet of six ferryboats when it ceased operations in 1967. These vessels took their names from principal stations on the DL&W RR's main line from Hoboken, NJ to Buffalo, NY. Three of these - the Elmira, Scranton, and Pocono (née Scandinavia) - Binghamton's sisters, were also built in 1905. (Another, Ithaca, was destroyed by fire in 1946.) Of these, Binghamton is now the only survivor.

History[edit]

Binghamton wore the funnel markings of the DL&W (left) before 1960 and of the Erie-Lackawanna RR (right) at the end of her career.

Binghamton was one of six identical screw-propelled double-ended ferryboats built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Company at Newport News, Virginia in 1904-05 to designs by Gardner & Cox, naval architects. She was launched on February 20, 1905, with Miss Charlotte Emery, daughter of John M. Emery, the newly promoted superintendent of the Hoboken Ferry Company and Ferry Department of the DL&W, serving as her sponsor. Binghamton was completed a month later and left the Newport News yard on March 25 for the trip to Hoboken, New Jersey. She was placed in commission on April 3. Her Captain for the first crossing was Oren D. Relyea.

Her normal run was from the Hoboken Terminal to Barclay Street, a twelve-minute journey of approximately 1 and 3/4 miles, a trip made continuously nearly every day for more than sixty years (on occasion she substituted on the Hoboken - 23rd Street run).

As alternate methods of travel across the Harbor were implemented, ferry transport diminished. The opening of the Pennsylvania Railroad line to Penn Station in Manhattan (1907); the Hudson and Manhattan Rapid Transit Line (1907); the Holland and Lincoln tunnels (1927; 1937); and the George Washington Bridge (1931) all contributed to the decline of the ferries. In 1960, the DL&W RR merged with the Erie Railroad to form the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. The last ferry crossing of the Hoboken company, in operation since 1821, took place on November 22, 1967, when the railroad closed its trans-Hudson operations and offered its ferries for sale. The Erie-Lackawanna Railroad eventually filed for bankruptcy before being absorbed into Conrail in 1976.

Hudson River ferry service later experienced a revival, beginning with services provided by NY Waterway in December 1986. These services are maintained by small, single-ended diesel-powered pedestrian ferries that carry on the tradition of their steam-powered predecessors. Traditional double-ended ferries (diesel-powered) meanwhile continue to serve in New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry.

Restaurant conversion[edit]

Binghamton retired in 1967.

Binghamton was acquired in 1969 by Edward Russo, an Edgewater, NJ contractor, for conversion into a restaurant. Russo planned large dining rooms on the Upper and Main decks, plus two pubs in the former engine room. He leased a berth at Edgewater, NJ, and scheduled a grand opening for Labor Day, 1970. But a tug strike and delays in dredging her berth at Edgewater indefinitely postponed these plans.[7]

Binghamton finally moved to Edgewater in 1971. Unable to find a concessionaire to operate the restaurant, Russo relinquished control of the vessel in 1973. In late 1974, Binghamton was sold to Ferry Binghamton Inc., of Hackensack, New Jersey, for conversion to a restaurant and nightclub. On February 28, 1975, her new owners had the vessel moved to a new permanent berth about one half mile downstream. The restaurant opened later that year.[7]

The US Department of the Interior listed Binghamton on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In 1997 the vessel made headlines when its owner, tycoon and former New Jersey Assembly Speaker Nelson Gross, was found murdered in Manhattan.[8] The restaurant, known as "Binghamton's", continued to operate for ten years, but closed by Fall 2007. Binghamton has remained unused at her berth in Edgewater since then. In July 2011 the owner applied for a demolition permit.[9] As of May 2012, the ferry has taken on water, and is partially submerged. The Binghamton was further swamped during Hurricane Sandy on October 29 or 30, 2012, damage unknown at this time.[dated info]

The ferry had a fire on Sunday, May 19, 2013, that was investigated by the Edgewater Police and the Bergen County arson squad. The owner, Daniel Kim, said that there was no damage to the boat. He further stated that he was closing on a deal to have a subtenant demolish and remove the ferry from the site, with plans to open a restaurant on a barge at that location.[10]

Gallery[edit]

Binghamton at Edgewater, NJ. Photos by T.E. Rinaldi, September 2004.

Binghamton in May 2012

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Adams, Arthur G. and Raymond J. Baxter. Railroad ferries of the Hudson: and stories of a deckhand. New York: Fordham University Press, 1999.
  • Cudahy, Brian J. Over and back: the history of ferryboats in New York Harbor. New York: Fordham University Press, 1990.
  • Scull, Theodore W. Hoboken's Lackawanna Terminal. New York: Quadrant Press, 1986.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  3. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Bergen County". New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection - Historic Preservation Office. July 7, 2009. p. 19. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  4. ^ Bergen County Historical Society Historic Site Markers. Accessed January 7, 2009.
  5. ^ Hilton, George W. The Illustrated History of Paddle Steamers. New York, 1976. p. 73.
  6. ^ Hilton, George W. The Illustrated History of Paddle Steamers. New York, 1976. p. 76.
  7. ^ a b Cotterell, Harry Jr. "Ferryboat Binghamton, Edgewater, Bergen County, New Jersey." National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form, February 1982.
  8. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. "3 Teen-Agers Plead Guilty in Businessman's Killing." New York Times, February 11, 1998.
  9. ^ Almenas, Maxim (July 16, 2010). "Edgewater riverfront: a path to no where". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ Koloff, Abbott (May 23, 2012). "Bergen County arson squad investigates weekend fire at Edgewater's Binghamton Ferry". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 

External links[edit]