Over and Back: The History of Ferryboats in NY Harbor

Brian J. Cudahy, Author Fordham University Press $50 (472p) ISBN 978-0-8232-1245-3
The first steam-propelled ferry crossed the Hudson River in 1812; by 1900, five major railroads operated ferryboat services to Manhattan. Before the Civil War, ferries were the only system of mechanized transport for local short-haul trips in, around and across New York Harbor; they were operated by private companies, railroads and, after 1905, the city. Cudahy's ( Under the Sidewalks of New York ) well-documented, exhaustive history covers nearly two centuries, tracing technological improvements in engine and vessel design and changes in service caused by bridges and tunnels. Enthusiasm for his subject leads to a great deal of minutiae, such as identifying the ferryboats Lincoln used on his inaugural journey to Washington. The Staten Island ferries (capacity, 6000) are described with a look at special-purpose ferries (from the city morgue to Potters Field on Hart Island). For transportation historians and ferryboat buffs, here is a treasure trove. Illustrated. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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