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Navigating the Garden State: By Boat

It's exactly 200 years since regularly scheduled steam ferry service began right here in New Jersey. Two centuries later boats still transport thousands daily.

October 11 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the first regularly-scheduled commercial steam ferry service in the world.  John Steven's Juliana began running between Hoboken and Manhattan.  With that important milestone being noted, I thought it was an appropriate time to note how you can get around New Jersey by boat. 

For a state that's bordered by water on the east, south and west, it's not too surprising that boats have long played an important role in transporting people, but it's only been in the last quarter century that ferries have made a comeback and service has grown after nearly disappearing.

A Historical Perspective

Ferries were among the first forms of transportation in New Jersey.  In 1787 the first successful trial of a steamboat took place on the Delaware River. Years later, when railroads began to crisscross the state, their terminals were located on the Hudson and Delaware rivers and ferries were used to transport passengers to their destinations in New York City and Philadelphia. 

In November 1967 the last of the railroad ferries in New Jersey completed their runs at the Erie Lackawanna's Hoboken Terminal.  It looked as if the days of the ferry had come to an end for the most part in New Jersey.

In 1986 Arthur Imperatore, Sr. created NY Waterway and the company revived ferry service between Weehawken and Manhattan.  Today, there are numerous ferry routes connecting New Jersey with New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Cape May-Lewes Ferry

This service connects the southern tip of New Jersey with Delaware.  It's owned and operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority.  This has, by far, the largest boats of any ferry service in the state, and is the only one to currently carry vehicles. The service runs year-round. You can also get information by calling 800-643-3779.

Liberty Landing Ferry

This is a single route ferry service that connects two stops at the Morris Canal Basin in Jersey City with the World Financial Center in Manhattan.  The service runs from 6 a.m. until 8:45 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. until 7:45 p.m. on weekends. Call (201) 604-5799 for additional details.

NY Waterway

NY Waterway has the most extensive network of ferry services operating.  They serve nine terminals along the Hudson River in New Jersey as well as additional terminals along the East River on the East River and in the Hudson Valley.  They also have service out of Belford, New Jersey connecting with terminals in Jersey City and Manhattan.  As part of their service, NY Waterway also offers an extensive network of free buses that connect with their midtown and downtown Manhattan terminals as well as their terminals at Port Imperial and Edgewater in New Jersey.  There are also connections with NJ Transit bus and rail service at several of their terminals as well as PATH.  You can dial 800-533-3779 for more information.

RiverLink Ferry

This is a seasonal service that connects Camden and Philadelphia.  The crossing of the Delaware takes 12 minutes and will bring passengers to Penn's Landing in Philadelphia and to the Wiggins Park Ferry Terminal in Camden.  Additional information is available at 215-925-LINK.

SeaStreak

SeaStreak's commuter service connects both Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey with two stops in Manhattan; Pier 11 and East 35th Street.  Service operates year-round seven days a week. 

Ferry service is probably the most relaxing form of commuter transportation in the state.  Unlike your fellow commuters who are crossing the rivers in their car or on the train, you have a much better view and usually a lot more space.  Weather will rarely halt service and since the water is wide-open you don't have to worry about getting stuck behind a stalled train or an automobile crash.  You can reach SeaStreak at 800-BOAT-RIDE.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

RAS October 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM
Hi Bernie, As an amatuer historian and someone who loves to travel by ferry, I truly appreciate this article. Ron Soldano www.RonSoldano.com
Bernie Wagenblast October 16, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Thank you, Ron!

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