Street Beat: Grand Street and Its Long Lost Ferry

Posted on: February 28th, 2013 at 11:52 am by

[1860 .Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views]

[The Grand Street Ferry, 1860 .Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views]

Before bridges and tunnels, before Williamsburg lost its “h” and had a bridge eponymously named, there was a ferry. Multiple ferries, actually, but for now we are only concerned with the Grand Street Ferry that ran from, yep, Grand Street to Williamsburg.

I was well on the way to delving into another Street Beat, but felt it very necessary to first indulge in some insanely dope ferry pics from a bygone era. History of the Grand Street Ferry herewith.

[Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views]

[View From the Grand Street Ferry; Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views]

[NYPL GRAND STREET FERRY PERCY LOOMIS  SPERR]

[NYPL: GRAND STREET FERRY REMAINS; PERCY LOOMIS SPERR]

[Manhattan - Between East and Broome Streets - Grand Street Ferry Terminal.] (1922]

From NYC.gov:

In 1802, Richard Woodhull, spurred by the idea of creating a residential suburb of Manhattan, began a ferry service from today’s Metropolitan Avenue to Corlear’s Hook across the East River. He purchased 13 acres of land surrounding the ferry and named the area Williamsburgh around 1810, after Colonel Jonathan Williams (1750-1815), the original surveyor of the site.

In 1811 Woodhull went bankrupt, but the idea of Williamsburgh was viable; Noah Waterbury built the neighborhood’s first distillery in 1819, and David Dunham (ca. 1790), called the “Father of Williamsburgh,” began operating a steam ferry in 1827. During the mid-1800s, wealthy professionals frequented the private clubs, beer gardens, and resorts abounding in the neighborhood, while companies like Pfizer Pharmaceutical and the Havermeyers & Elder Sugar (now Domino Sugar) Refineries laid their roots in the area.

By 1852, Williamsburgh’s population had grown to 31,000, and it was chartered as a city. The City of Brooklyn annexed Williamsburgh three years later and dropped the “h” from its name. The opening of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903 provided an easy route for the city’s newest Eastern European immigrants to leave the cramped Lower East Side of Manhattan, and by 1917, Williamsburg was the most densely populated area of Brooklyn.

The Grand Street Ferry ceased operations in 1918, and the abandoned landing became one of the few stretches of Williamsburg shoreline accessible to the public. …Grand Ferry Park, opened officially on July 9, 1998…A red brick smokestack rising above a circular pattern of cobblestones was part of a molasses plant that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals used in the early 20th century for work that led, eventually, to the large-scale production of penicillin. The cobblestones were salvaged from the section of Grand Street where the park was constructed.

grand_st_ferry_plaque

[Wikipedia] ( I don't normally use Wiki, but this map shows the ferry route)

[Ferry Route/Photo: Wikipedia]

People have called me an adventurer – a good portion of what I discover about NYC history is because of my penchant for exploration.

There’s another NYC lover and explorer out there who has done us a tremendous favor by climbing down a questionable wooden ladder to showcase what is left of the Williamsburg side of the Grand Street Ferry stop. Far be it from me not to shout a fellow NYC wanderer, or in this case, Scout. Check out his pics here. They are awesome.

Good? Okay. So why is Grand Street grand?

Well, because James de Lancey Jr. (more often spelled “Delancey” of  Delancey Street) planned it that way.

See, Delancey had a farm and on that farm he had a road and an orchard (Orchard Street) and oh that road! It was to be the grandest and most extraordinarily wide leading up to his estate from our favorite Corlear’s Hook. It was his “Great Square.” See it below:

[NYPL Plan of CIty of NY 1767]

[NYPL Plan of CIty of NY 1767]

We are definitely going to visit Delancey Jr. in great depth in another Street Beat.

This man was connected to Stanton and Rivington (and his rebels) and so many more whose names our streets bear. Too bad he was a loyalist and ended up leaving his beloved estate, farm and roads behind for greener pastures in England. But his grand pathway remains. To this very day it is grand in its own way…What do you like most about this street?

(If I haven’t said it in a while – thanks for reading, Boogie-ers. Go ‘head and grab yourself a sticker as a thanks from us)

Peace.

Recent Stories

skinny-orchard-returns
The SKINnY Soft Opens Tonight at 174 Orchard Street

The fattened SKINnY Bar and Lounge is opening much earlier than we thought at 174 Orchard Street. As in, tonight. We hear word from ownership that this evening is soft-launch for the newly-expanded rock bar, which closed in 2012 for renovations. Here is more of the skinny on SKINnY, according to press materials: The SKINnY Bar […]

katz-sidewalk-work
Katz’s Deli Files DOB Permits to Fix Basement Space Ruined in Water Main Rupture

It’s been a tough summer for the iconic Katz’s Deli, which fell victim to a nasty water main break back in June. Rupture of the 1959 pipe – likely related to the never-ending East Houston rehabilitation project – literally broke the roadway and caused massive flooding in their basement. Moreover, the sidewalk out front caved […]

colfax-bale-ludlow-1
‘Colfax and Bale’ Will Soon Bring Streetwear and Urban Vibes to 174 Ludlow Street

Colfax and Bale sounds more like a high-end department store or maybe one of those law firms advertised on the subway. Far from it, though. It’s actually the name of a new street-style apparel store opening at 174 Ludlow Street. For the last year, 174 Ludlow had been a vacancy, with its security gate perpetually shuttered. […]

sutra-1st-avenue
Sutra’s Ariel Palitz is Working on a New ‘Venue’ in the Neighborhood

As the ten-year-old Sutra Lounge bows out to make way for a Murray Hill-style sports Bar, proprietor Ariel Palitz is already on to the next venture. In a candid interview with Steve Lewis of Blackbook, the club owner discusses that she’s “currently in development of a new venue in the neighborhood.” It’ll allegedly be a “radical […]

vivi-tea-allen
Vivi Bubble Tea Replaces Móle at 205 Allen Street

Móle suspiciously closed for “renovations” early this summer, and did not reopen. Two months on, a local dynasty of sorts has just invaded 205 Allen Street. Vivi Bubble Tea is opening its fourteenth outpost here at the corner of East Houston. The announcement was taped in the window yesterday evening. Their menu includes milk teas, flavored […]