The Manhattan terminal for the Staten Island Ferry. For tourists it's a place of interest to visit, but for most Staten Islanders, it is simply transportation ... the easiest (and cheapest) way to get from here to Manhattan. But look past the first three slips ... they are older slips where earlier ferries would dock, and today they accommodate ferries from the Coast Guard post on Governor's Island.
Although there had been ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan starting years earlier, the first motorized ferry service began in 1817. Today the Staten Island Ferry carries over 19 million passengers a year - mostly commuters from Staten Island. The trip takes 25 minutes each way.
In 1964, the Verrazano Bridge opened, making it possible to drive from Brooklyn to Staten Island, ending the history of the Brooklyn Ferry - much to my dissapointment. The Brooklyn Ferry would leave Brooklyn from the 69th Street Pier in Brooklyn, traveling to the same ferry terminal in St. George, Staten Island as its better known Manhattan counterpart. These were the days before home air conditioning could be found in every home, and on a hot summer day, we would pay our 5 cents, board the ferry and enjoy the cool breeze on the trip to Staten Island. When we arrived, we would hide in the bathroom until people started boarding again and make the return trip. We often would do that for hours.
The Staten Island Ferry is the best way to see the Statue of Liberty, and is the best value commuter option/tourist attraction. You can't do better than FREE!