THE FERRY ROAD
EUGENE L. ARMBRUSTER
Several changes were made in the ferry landings in course of the years. Orders were
given in 1707 that the boats should make the landings on the New York shore on:
-Mondays and Thursdays at Countess Key, i. e., on the foot of Maiden Lane, where the
Fly Market had just been erected;
-Tuesdays and Fridays at the Burgher's Path, i. e., at Hanover Square;
-Wednesdays and Saturdays at Coentis Slip.
In 1717 two ferries were provided to run from the old Long Island landing, viz.,
the Nassau Ferry, carrying cattle, goods and passengers to the above mentioned three
New York slips, and the New York Ferry, carrying only goods and passengers to Hanover
Square and Coentis Slip.
In 1774 three ferries were established with landings in New York at
Fly Market and
On the Long Island shore were two landings provided, the one at the original landing place
and another at the Red Mills, at the foot of later Atlantic Street.
In 1795 the New Ferry was established, running between the Olympia settlement,
now Main Street, Brooklyn, and Catherine Street, New York City.
In 1803 the Old Ferry, or Fly Market Ferry, and the New Ferry, or Catherine
Street Ferry, were the only two ferries running. The Old Ferry operated then two
kinds of boats; the barges, rowed by four men each and holding eight or ten persons,
and the sailboats, with deep bottoms. These had no regular steersman and the first
passenger to arrive took the helm; horses and wagons were in the bottom of the sailboat,
exposed to. all kinds of weather, like the passengers.
Then came the horse boats, which were propelled by continually driving two or
four horses around a pole in the hold of the boat. The horses were attached to this
pole and the latter was connected by a gear movement which rotated the paddle wheels.
The Old Ferry lease expiring in 1813, Robert FULTON and William CUTTING obtained
a franchise for a ferry to begin to run in 1814 from Old Ferry Street, Brooklyn, to
Fly Market and Burling Slips, New York. The slip for the steamboat was constructed at
Beekman's Slip, next to Burling's Slip, and the old landing at Fly Market was abandoned.
The boats of Fulton were twin boats, having two complete hulls, connected by a bridge and
shaped on both ends alike, so that they could cross and recross the river without turning
around, like the ferryboats of to-day.
The first steamboat on this ferry was the Nassau, also called Sall, which began
running on May 10th, 1814. This boat carried as many as 550 passengers, besides a few wagons,
on one trip. On account of the yellow fever in 1822, business activities of New York had been
transferred to Greenwich Village, and the Nassau plied then between Brooklyn and Greenwich.
Besides the Nassau, were built in 1814 the Long Island Star, and the Decatur;
the latter was built as a horseboat but was altered into a steamboat.
Robert FULTON, died on February 23, 1815.
Among the later boats which were running on this ferry at one time or another, we mention the
William Cutting, built in 1827;
Olive Branch, in 1836; this was the first single keel boat and carried passengers only;
it was the favorite boat.
The Relief, built in 1837, was exchanged, together with the Long Island Star, for the
Over and the Rough and Ready, built for the Jackson Ferry Company;
Roslyn and Manhasset, 1860;
Hamilton, Union and America; 1862;
New York, Baltic and Repubiic, 1863.
The Clinton and Somerset were built by the United States Government during the War in 1865;
Monticello and Columbia were built in 1867;
Mineola in 1868;
and the iron-constructed Fulton and Farragut in 1871.
The Fulton Ferryhouse in Brooklyn, was improved in 1865, and was replaced by a new building
in 1871 costing $138,000; a niche had been prepared on the outer part of the structure in which
a statue of Robert FULTON was installed in 1873.
The statue is 10 feet 6 inches high; the inventor is leaning on the model of the Nassau. The
material used is zinc, and the casting was done in SEELEY'S foundry in Maujer Street;
the statue was painted white. The model was made by an artist of the name of BUBERL from the
only known picture of FULTON, made by JARVIS, and owned by Cadwallader COLDEN, Fulton's biographer.
Mrs. COLDEN later gave it to Dr. VINTON.
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