Twenty-two million people can’t be wrong. That’s the number of folks who ride the Staten Island Ferry each year. And while most of those people on the boat are residents of the “forgotten borough” who are commuting in and out of Manhattan for work or fun, many of them are locals or tourists taking advantage of one of the city’s best-kept secrets. After all, there is only one place where you can have unparalleled vistas of New York Harbor, explore bargains, see cultural sites, and do it all for free: the Staten Island Ferry.


Although people had been traveling back and forth from Staten Island to Manhattan long before the Dutch settled New Amsterdam in 1625, the roots of the Staten Island Ferry as a commercial venture can be traced back to 1810 and several entrepreneurs–one of whom was a 16-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt who was the first to offer steamboat service. At the turn of the twentieth century, after numerous private companies provided service between the two islands, The City of New York took over the operation of the ferry route.


In addition to providing reliable transportation, the ferry has made its mark in popular culture, most notably in the 1998 film Working Girl, where Staten Island gal Tess (played by Melanie Griffith) commuted on the ferry to her job on Wall Street. The ferry was also featured in Spide-Man: Homecoming, The Dark Knight, and an episode of TV’s Sex and the City. In 2022, Saturday Night Live cast members Colin Jost and Pete Davidson (both Staten Island natives) made headlines by purchasing a decommissioned 57-year-old Staten Island Ferry for $280,000.


But the ferry is much more than history, transportation, and pop culture. Here are our top five reasons why we love the Staten Island Ferry


It’s Free

Competing New York Harbor tour boats charge anywhere between $24 and $50 and require reservations. All you need to do to enjoy the Staten Island Ferry is show up at either terminal (South Ferry in Manhattan and St. George in Staten Island) and enjoy the ride.


No Waiting

It’s incredibly frequent. Depending on when you leave, there are at least two ferries leaving per hour. There are four ferries during rush hour!


It’s Instagramable

With unbeatable views of landmarks that include The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, One World Trade Center, The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and Governor’s Island, you can get enough photos in your social media feed to cause serious FOMO in all your followers.


The Shopping

New York City isn’t famous for its shopping bargains unless you go to Staten Island. The ferry terminal in St. George is a quick walk to Empire Outlets, the city’s only outlet shopping destination.


It’s Romantic

Looking for something unique to do after a dinner date in Lower Manhattan? Hop on the ferry and ride on the deck outside for romantic views of New York’s skyline.


Getting to the Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry departs from the Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan, located at 4 South Street in Lower Manhattan. You can get there by taxi or rideshare or by taking the following subway lines.


  • South Ferry – 1 train

  • Whitehall Street South Ferry – R & W trains

  • Bowling Green – 4 & 5 trains

  • Broad Street – J & Z trains


The ferry arrives at St. George Terminal on Staten Island. For more information on the Staten Island Ferry, visit the New York City Department of Transportation website.