Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn

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From the water
Manhattan Bridge under construction in 1909, showing ferry landing and Empire Store warehouse on left (extant as of 2007)
For the ferry, see Fulton Ferry (ferry).

Fulton Ferry is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is named for Fulton Ferry, a prominent ferry line crossing the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and is also the name of the ferry slip on the Brooklyn side. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 2.

Ferry service[edit]

Though boats and sail ferries called at these locations since the 18th century, the inauguration of Robert Fulton's steam Fulton Ferry Company in 1814 established his name on the ferry service, which revolutionized travel between the then City of New York on Manhattan Island and the Village of Brooklyn and the rest of Long Island. The opening of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 assured the decline of this and other ferries on the East River. Fulton Ferry service ended in 1924. Bargemusic, a concert venue, is moored there today; the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory sits on the pier. Manhattan ferry service returned in 2006 at the next pier to the north. The major thoroughfares leading to the Fulton Ferry from both landings were (and are) named Fulton Street, both in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. The BMT Fulton Street Line and BMT Lexington Avenue Line (or "Old Main Line") elevated railways both ended at the Brooklyn side of the ferry, but were later moved with the majority of trips using the Brooklyn Bridge. The Fulton Ferry District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.[1]

Dutch settlement to 1924[edit]

The first grant for a commercial ferry was given by Dutch governor Willem Kieft to Cornelis Dircksen in 1642; however, local waterfront land-owners were free to make their own crossings of the river.[2]

The ferry played a large role in cementing the Manhattan-Brooklyn rivalry.[3] Two charters – the first in 1686, the second in 1708 – gave to Manhattan ownership of the lines and essentially all of the Brooklyn waterfront. In 1745, Hendrick Remsen brought a lawsuit against New York; after thirty years, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, awarding him his original five shillings plus court costs of nearly 2,375 shillings (475 times his original request). The city appealed to the crown, but America's declaration of independence threw the case into legal limbo, allowing the City of New York to retain its claim to the Brooklyn waterfront.[2]

The site was known as "Brookland Ferry" when George Washington escaped with his troops after the Battle of Long Island.[4] After the Revolutionary War, ferrymaster Adolph Waldron gained sole control of the ferry by virtue of being the only Whig with a claim to it. He experimented with barges with little success, although his hold on the ferry was very profitable for him. The City refused to renew his lease in 1789, opting instead for a second major charter in 1795, establishing the Catherine Ferry (or, popularly, the “New” Ferry), a stock-based company.

Robert Fulton, at the behest of Brooklyn magnate Hezekiah Pierrepont, secured a 25-year lease on the ferry in 1814. The first trip of the steamboat Nassau was made on May 10, 1814, and brought with it the first predictable passage between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Trips took no longer than twelve minutes, and there was no chance of the ship being swept upstream or downstream, or held to the whims of the wind.[3] Brooklyn Heights became known as "America's First Suburb" as residents could commute to Manhattan with ease.[5]

The shareholders of this line, now called Union Ferry, were mostly based in Manhattan; they tended to favor increased profits over improved service. (The stock paid a generous 7% dividend.) Fares started at four cents, which led to rival services at Red Hook and elsewhere. Union Ferry reduced its fare to one cent in stages between 1842 and 1850, bankrupting the competing lines and allowing Union Ferry to purchase their rights and raise rates once again.[3]

The ferry continued to be successful until the 1883 opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. It stayed in service for another 41 years, ceasing operations in 1924. Demand was still sufficient to require the building of an elevated track to the hub, in use from 1888 to 1940.[6] (The eastern end of the line is now used by the IND Eighth Avenue Line, served by the A C trains of the New York City Subway.)

Since 2006[edit]

Ferry service to Manhattan returned in 2006,[7] with New York Water Taxi operating seasonal service. In February 2011, New York Waterway was contracted to operate a route calling at six slips in Brooklyn and Queens as well as the Manhattan East Side terminals.[8] Service, begun in June 2011, operates in both directions with year-round peak service running every 20 minutes. Additional Summer (April-Oct) daily service runs off-peak every 30 minutes.[9][10]

Route Transfers
East 34th Street Ferry Landing
FDR Drive/34th Street, Manhattan
NY Waterway Bus[11]
Hunters Point-Long Island City
Long Island City LIRR station
India Street, Brooklyn
North Williamsburg
North Sixth Street, Brooklyn
South Williamsburg
Schaefer Landing, Brooklyn
Fulton Ferry Landing
Fulton Street, Brooklyn
New York Water Taxi
Pier 11 at Wall Street
South Street, Manhattan
New York Waterway
New York Beach Ferry


  1. ^ Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b Everdell, William R. (1973). Rowboats to rapid transit: a history of Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Heights Association. 
  3. ^ a b c Williams, Keith. "Fulton Ferry: a brief history". The Weekly Nabe. Retrieved 15 Mar 2012. 
  4. ^ "Brookland Ferry Landing". City of New York Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Brooklyn Heights / South Brooklyn Neighborhoods". The South Brooklyn Network. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Kahn, Alan Paul (1975). Brooklyn elevated railroads. New York, NY: Electric Railroads Association. 
  7. ^ "New York Water Taxi Begins Service From Fulton Ferry". NY1. Retrieved 27 Nov 2006. 
  8. ^ Grynbaum, Micheal M. (February 1, 2011). "Ferries to Ply East River Far More Regularly Soon". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  9. ^ Clark, Roger (June 1, 2011). "East River Ferry Service To Make A Splash". NY1. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  10. ^ "East River Ferry". NY Waterway. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  11. ^ "East River Ferry Bus Route Map" (PDF). NY Waterway. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 

Coordinates: 40°42′12″N 73°59′42″W / 40.70333°N 73.99500°W / 40.70333; -73.99500