22 August 2012

Destinations - East River Ferry (New York)

This is the last post inspired by the trip that Keith and I took to New York at the end of June/beginning of July.

Originally I was going to title it with something involving Brooklyn, but the more I thought of that, the more I was inclined to focus on the East River Ferry since we really saw so little of Brooklyn.

On the same day that we went to the High Line park, we met a friend for lunch in Chelsea (at a fun, inexpensive, delicious, Cuban restaurant called Coppelia), and from there we set out to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn.

The walk was pleasant, but quite crowded, and at times the views were blocked entirely by plywood sheeting on either side of the walkway due to a large-scale renovation taking place.

Here's a view of Keith (Brooklyn in the background) in an unobstructed part of the walk.  (His Cubs cab earned him friendly jibes from several folks in New York.)

Below you see another view of Brooklyn taken from the bridge.  Brooklyn very much has its own skyline and this photo does not do it justice.

Once we landed in Brooklyn we walked around a little bit of the area referred to as "DUMBO" - "down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass".  (Read here to find out how it got its nickname.)  Note that the Manhattan Bridge is not the same as the Brooklyn Bridge.

The two bridges come to earth in Brooklyn close to each other (like spokes in a wheel) but the landing spot of the Manhattan Bridge in Manhattan is considerably north of where the Brooklyn Bridge is anchored.  The DUMBO area is a mostly former industrial zone similar to the area around Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco or Jack London Square in Oakland consisting of brick industrial warehouses being redeveloped for residential, offices, and retail.

Keith had heard somewhere about a great place for chocolate called Jacques Torres in DUMBO, which we sought and found.  For me the weather was too hot and muggy for anything other than an iced coffee and a phenomenal chocolate chip cookie.  Keith would not be deterred by the weather, and ordered a hot chocolate, which he declared the best he had ever had.

Now fueled by caffeine and sugar, we walked away from DUMBO toward a dock and a park I'd spotted from the Brooklyn Bridge.  The dock turned out be where the East River Ferry lands near downtown Brooklyn.  If it's on water and it moves people (meant for residents that is, not for tourists) then I want to ride it.  This would be way more fun than taking a subway or simply walking back across the bridge.

The ferry operates every 20-30 minutes daily and actually begins and ends on Manhattan: on the lower east side at Wall Street/Pier 11 and then at East 34th Street/Midown.  The rest of the stops are on the East River in Brooklyn and Long Island City (Queens).  A summer season extension also operates from Pier 11 to Governors Island.  What's more, a free Midtown shuttle bus connects from the East 34th Street terminal and covers a big chunk of Midtown.

From the ferry dock looking north - Brookly Bridge
in the foreground, Manhattan Bridge behind it
The fare - hold on, this is going to be expensive - was a whopping....four dollars per person.  A bargain for what would turn out to be a wonderful ride.

Even if you don't care to visit Brooklyn, you can ride between Wall Street and Midtown on the water and get some great views of the Manhattan skyline and the entire East River.  And even on a hot humid day like the day we rode it, the fast moving ferry makes for a pleasant, breezy ride.

Here are some photos taken while on the quick ride from the Brooklyn Bridge Park/DUMBO terminal to East 34th Street/Midtown.

Vroom!  Looking south toward the Brooklyn Bridge
at lower Manhattan.  Freedom Towers rising to the right.

Approaching the Williamsburg Bridge

The United Nations.  East 34th Street/Midtown
terminal is slightly to the left (south) from the U.N.

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