Walt Whitman wrote about the joys of taking the ferry more than 160 years ago, but you can still go by boat to see places like Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, and Bay Ridge.
Want a new way to check out the Brooklyn waterfront? Try a boat. For $2.75, you can visit ports of call that have a lot to offer in terms of culture and food. From Manhattan, you can start island-hopping at the Pier 11-Wall Street landing, where the salty air wakes you up and boats with names like Ferry Godmother, City Fishy, and McShiny pull up to take you away.
NYC Ferry started in 2017 and has been growing since then. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the city-funded service, which was run by Hornblower, a private company based in San Francisco. He did this so that neighborhoods without subways could have an easy way to get around. Even tourists can gain. There are snack bars, bathrooms that are mostly clean, and a top deck with great views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the sparkling shorelines.
Six routes run every day between the five boroughs. A spokeswoman for NYC Ferry said that a shuttle to Governors Island will run on weekends until September 11. Vessels can hold between 150 and 350 people, which isn’t very many compared to the Staten Island Ferry, which can hold thousands. On warm days, the longest line is for Rockaway, Queens (tip: go before noon). Greenpoint is temporarily closed for repairs, so only eight of the 25 landings are in Brooklyn. The Dumbo/Fulton Ferry has its perks, such as beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline, waterfront parks, the century-old Jane’s Carousel, and Bargemusic, a moored barge that puts on chamber music concerts. The Brooklyn Navy Yard, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg, and Brooklyn Army Terminal/Sunset Park are more for people who need to get to work than for people who want to see the sights.
Along the South Brooklyn route, Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, and Bay Ridge are all fun places to visit on their own for a day. Remember to bring sunscreen.
On a recent hot day, a path through Brooklyn Bridge Park just off the landing at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Heights, near Cobble Hill, was shady thanks to a canopy of trees. Families and groups of friends can easily spend hours picnicking on lawns that haven’t been treated with pesticides and using sand volleyball courts and playgrounds with two-story slides and water jets to cool off. There’s a lot more to see for people who are always on the go.
Walk around Brooklyn Heights and you’ll be amazed by the beautiful mix of Federal, Greek-Revival, and Italianate buildings. Columbia Place, Joralemon, Pierrepont, Clinton, Pineapple, Orange, Cranberry, and Middagh Streets bring to mind another time, when writers like W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, W.E.B. Du Bois, Arthur Miller, and Walt Whitman walked the leafy sidewalks.