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

thor-vandal
Atop the Hotel on Rivington, Street Art Takes Hold

It’s not just nightlife tune-ups, the Hotel on Rivington is seemingly trying to reinvent itself. Last month, we noted the nightlife reboot on premise. The Shanghai-themed lounge, Jia (formerly Viktor & Spoils), and an as-yet-unnamed Mediterranean restaurant in the adjacent space. Both are by the collective hand of Roberto Buchelli (Beautique, Provocateur) and Corey Lane (partner […]

icp-bowery-open
International Center of Photography Brings ‘Maman’ Cafe Outpost to the Bowery

The International Center of Photography officially opened its flagship Bowery location to the public yesterday. Its coronation was years in the making, and caps an extended period of dormancy for this storefront real estate at 250 Bowery. With its arrival in the neighborhood, though, is a tag-along eats occupant. Indeed, lost in all the headlines […]

2spring-sign-stand
Mic Drop: State Denies ‘The Stand’ Comedy Club a Chance on the Bowery

After four years on Third Avenue, The Stand was planning on relocating the comedy club to a basement on the Bowery. Apparently some impending development is pushing them out. However, the state denied owner Paul Italia and company a liquor license this week for the subterranean space below 2 Spring Street. Opposition to the establishment was entrenched from […]

bowery-boys
Ambitious ‘Windows on the Bowery’ Placard Project to Highlight History of Thoroughfare, Launches July 5

These days, the Bowery rarely gets due recognition for its pioneering architecture, and early contributions to myriad art forms, such as tattooing, punk, vaudeville, and Yiddish Theater. Instead, it’s really all about which historic buildings can be sold to the highest bidder for demolition and re-development. Armed with a platoon of historians and visually-striking imagery, […]

showdown-2016-1_wm
Scenes from Steve Nash’s 9th Annual Showdown NYC on the LES [PHOTOS]

Last night, the Lower East Side again played host to the annual Showdown NYC. It was the ninth outing for retired ball player Steve Nash, who rallied his athlete friends for another inner-city friendly. As in years prior, a delegation of NBA, MLS, and international soccer stars, as well as notable personalities, gathered at Nike […]