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Staten Island Chamber of 

Report of the Ferry 
Committee of the... 

[Staten Island, N.Y.] 





ISta^ten^STslancL.^ Ohamber of oommeroe* Ferry 

RdpoH of -the iwvy oonmittee of the Statftti 
Island phamber of oonmeroe, December 12, 1901* 
oover-titl«t .8 p« 24^ cia. . 








DATE FILMED: ;z.-\o~Sn 



M5H 2I3B 








DECEMBER 12. 1901 







DECEMBER 12, 1901 

On the 24th day of June last, 
shortly after the disaster to the 
ferry boat Northfield, your direc- 
tors, thinking it an auspicious time 
to again take up the ferry ques- 
tion in its various relations to the 
welfare and convenience of the in- 
habitants of the Boroughs of Rich- 
mond and Manliattan, appointed 
the Committee which now has the 
honor of reporting to you. 

The subject was limited to "fer- 
ry" investigation that being the 
feature of immedia1% possibilities; 
though discussion of future means 
between Manhattan and Richmond 
may very advisably cover other 
methods of access as well. 

Not unnaturally, under the pres- 
sure and sorrow of the time, many 
citizens desired an early report and 
one condemnatory of all existing 

Your committee, though apprec- 
iating to the full the horror of the 
accident, felt that a quiet, thorough 
examination, and a carefully con- 
sidered conservative report, would 
be more in keeping with the real 
needs of the case and of greater ad- 
vantage to the community if pre- 
sented when the special excitement 
had passed away. 

As to the accidoit itself, it was 
evident that the courts would take 
all necessary action, so we have 
omitl^ further refo-ence to it in 

On April 25th, 1899, a special 
committee of the Chamber ably re- 
ported on the ferry question, show- 
ing very completely the great lack 
of proper facilities, so that on the 
points covered then, your pres- 
ent committee has in a large 
measure, but to reiterate tfie fwin- 
er conclusions and to agree with 
them; that the service as rendered 
is so inadequate to the needs of the 
Island, as to be a very serious han- 
dicap to its prosperity and growth. 

When the former committee re- 
ported, we hoped that the City Ad- 
ministration, then but about a year 
in power under the Greater New 
York consolidation, would bring 
order out of chaos and take up the 
matter of improved transportation 
between ^Manhattan and Richmond, 
as it had promised to do; but our 
hopes have had no realization. 

That administration is now about 
to be superseded by a new one; 
shall we, through not asking for 
what we want, let it also pass 
away without relieving our needs, 
if by asking and urging and push- 
ing and keeping everlastingly at it, 
the desired results can be accom- 

In order to* be perfectly fair, we 
sought and had an interview with 
the managers of the ferry company 
to learn any plans they migfht pro- 
pose for bettering the conditions, 
or what reasons they had f ch* not 

complying with suitable sugg"es- 
. tions from Staten Islanders and 
others interested. 

\Miile thev were courteous and 
perhaps more freely communica- 
tive than in the past, but little that 
is new was really learned; their 
statements being confined to or 
rather crystalized into, two claims. 

Firjf— That without an exten- 
sion of franchise, no new capital 
could be enlisted; hence no new 
boats could be put into service; 
that said extension had been form- 
ally requested of the proper city of- 
ficials, but had been cc»npletely ig- 

Note. — Since above was written 
this matter has been taken up and 
the petition refused by the officials 
in power. 

Second. — That the seven years 
of ope ration under the present fran- 
chise had been years of loss instead 
of profit. 

As to the first, the company 
would not promise any further im- 
provements if its franchise should 
be extended ; thouQfh it recognized 
and admitted that the best oppor- 
tunity for profit would be in giving 
good, up-to-date service. 

As to the second, it is hard to 
j?ainsay figures given apparently 
fully and in good faith; but care- 
ful estimates of ferry expenses, 
after makinsr full allowances for 
franchise payments, rentals, taxes, 
insurance, interest on bonds, sink- 
ing fnnd, repairs and operation, 
would seem to show that there 
should be a balance for profit out 
of the receipts actually sworn to 
in reports to the city. 

Tt is not essential that your com- 
mittee should trv to reconcile these 
apparently conflicting conditions. 
We simply present tl^em. 

Under the Revised Charter of 
the City of New York, the Com- 
missioner of Docks has power to 
lease the franchise of any ferry be- 
longing to the city for a term not 

longer than twenty-five years, 
with a renewal for a term not long- 
er than ten years; and he also has 
the power to lease with said fran- 
chise such wharf property includ- 
ing slips, water fronts, etc., as are 
now owned or may hereafter be ac- 
quired by said city; and leases of 
such franchise so made, may, in the 
discretion of the commissioner of 
docks and the commissioners of the 
sinking fund, provide for the char- 
acter of transportation, service to 
be furnislied by the lessee, includ- 
ing the cliaracter and speed of the 
boats to be used, frequency of trips, 
rates of fare and commutation, and 
freight charges, and may provide 
for forfeiture of the lease in the 
event of failure to comply with its 
provisions in regard thereto. 

It is also provided by said char- 
ter that *Svhenever it may be deter- 
mined by the unanimous vote of the 
commissirmers of the sinking fund, 
upon the recommendation of the 
commissioner of docks, that the in- 
terests of the city will not be best 
promoted by leasing the franchise 
of a ferry" at public auction or by 
sealed bids, after advertisement and 
appraisal "it shall be lawful for 
said conmiissioner of docks and 
said commissioners of the sinking 
fund, by resolutions adopted by 
such unanimous votes, to lease 
such franchises by private agree- 
ment for terms not exceeding twen- 
ty-five years and under such condi- 
tions as in their judgment will best 
protect and further the interests of 
the city and the traveling public." 

The charter also gives very full 
power for municipal acquisition of 
the water front properties, which 
may be useful for establishing new 
point? for ferry service. 

Such acquisitions in Richmond 
should be urged so that when a 
ferrv franchise is oflFered for sale, 
terminals at both ends may be in- 

With these foregoii^ powers 


available we have four thmgs tg 

First. — ^To demonstrate to the 
authorities the need for additional 
and improved service. 

Second. — ^To apply to the proper 
ones for the franchises desired. 

Third. — ^To see to it that the new 
lease shall contain suitable provis- 
ions for protecting and benefitting 
the Borough of Richmond 

PourtK — ^To present one or more 
reliable parties, who will agree to 
bid for such franchises and bind 
themselves to maintain such con- 
templated ferries f<wr a definite 
term of years. 

The Manhattan terminal is, in 
some respects, all that can be desir- 
ed; as to location, admirable; as to 
arrangement, convenient ; as to 
maintenance, satisfactory, except 
that no over-head landing facilities 
are as yet provided. 

The leasing of one of the slips 
for boats to Communipaw. thus de- 
priving the Staten Island ferry of 
such use during rush hours, is very 
unwise; for, though it may be a 
convenience to a few going to 
points on the lines of the Central 
R. R. of New Jersey or the Balti- 
^more & Ohio R. R., it now causes 
delay at certain hours to hundreds 
or even thousands of Staten Isl- 
anders and will in the future still 
further hamper any more frequent 

It is well known that there has 
been more than talk about the city's 
granting a regular franchise for 
this route (now being actually op- 
erated as a ferry without consent). 
If such a franchise is granted, the 
blow to our ferry will be damag- 
ing l)evond measure. 

The'Baltimore & Ohio R. R. has 
advertised its so-called ^'Whitehall 
Terminal" very widely along its 
lines; still very few of its patrons 
make use of the facilities — and 
local passengers to Communipaw or 
other near-by points rarely da so. 

Now that the Pennsylvania R. R- 
has acquired control of the Balti- 
more & Ohio R. R. we do not know 
what devdopments may come, but 
cannot bdieve that its progressive 
management would seek to endan- 
ger a ferry service to Staten Island 
where logically its interests should 
soon predominate, and where, sus- 
picions of its good influence have 
been already felt. 

It should be noted that nearly 
every ferry of importance along 

Manhattan's water front possesses 
and uses at least two slips, while 
from every direction, except from 
Staten Island, several ferries sup- 
ply the service needed. 

At the Staten Island end, for 
some purposes the concentration at 
one point is of decided advantage. 
As a quick means for gathering and 
distributing passengers, it is prob- 
ably preferable to a scattered sys- 
tem., provided speedy passenger 
boats are used and sufficient trains 
and cars supplied, but for team and 
freight business, with the physical 
handicap of hills and long contract- 
ed approaches, it could not well be 
worse. With "along-diore" pas- 
senger service to the m<M*e distant 
points, some additional conven- 
ience could now be secured ; but tfaQ 
saving of time and wear and tear 
on wagons, horses and roads by 
such service for teams and freight, 
to points near which much of the 
traffic comes from, w^ould be very 
considerable. Certain trips of 
such boats to points north of Cort- 
landt street and east of Wall street 
in Manhattan would be a special 
boon for heavy trucking and relieve 
some of the congestion now evi- 
dent in the southern end of Man- 

As the population increases 
these changes will ultimately be 
found absolutely necessary. 

The transportation lines of Rich- 
mond would also benefit by secur- 
ing ''sh<Mt haul" traffic instead of 

"kmg haul*', with consequently less 
crowding and inconvenicaice to 
their passengers. 

The acquisiticm of the Richmond 
terminals by the city and leas- 
ing the same to such onnpany 
as may secure the new franchise 
would also be well advised. 

The population of Richmond 
Borough has increased steadily in 
si»te of these particular disadvan- 
tages, but many have moved away 
who were not tied down by owner- 
ship of property, or who preferred 
to sacrifice such ownership and go 
to suburbs of New York, less de- 
sirable in natural conditions, rather 
than submit to the inconvenience 
and discomfort of the ferry service 
as compared with the advantages 
of other places. 

The natural charms and pl-MS- 
ures of Staten Island must indeed 
be great to stand it, for to them 
must be credited the growth that 
has taken place. 

Yet, in all fairness for what it 
does do, it must be said that no 
ferry in or about New York has 
been more prompt and regular in 
ice and fog; has carried its passen- 
gers with fewer accidents, or has 
better, more dBScient and courteous 

However, three boats of about 40 
years of age, one of over 20 and 
two of 15 years or more, are not 
qualified, even if kept painted, re- 
paired and overhauled, for the duty 
of the present day. The annual 
eiqpenditure for insurance, repairs 
and renewals when a boat passes 20 
years of age will go a long way to- 
wards interest and sinking fund on 
the expense of a new boat, and a 
word of praise from a satisfied pub- 
lic will go a very long way towards 
increasing the company's business, 
while the constant fretting of dis- 
satisfied people (and properly dis- 
satisfied at that) must necessarily 
seriously injure it. 

It is not the wish or intention of 

your conunittee to attack any Cor- 
porate interest for the sake of in- 
juring it, but just criticism is our 
duty. While we believe that witli 
the boats at its disposal the present 
company has maintained as good 
service as it was able to do, yet 
there is no question that, years ago. 
the three oldest boats should have 
been relegated to honorable retire- 
ment and new speedy steamers 
have been placed in service to main- 
tain regular twenty minute sched- 
ule trips instead of the old ones try- 
ing to attain twenty-five minute 
runs and averaging nearer thirty. 

As to the older iDoats themselves, 
the government inspectors declare 
them sound and seaworthy, but the 
cabins are ill ventilated and insuf- 
ficiently lighted, both by day and 
night ; the sanitary conveniences 
are simply abominable and thfe 
three old boats are far too small for 
the service required at rush hours* 

The elimination in large m^sure 
of team and frdght service from 
the ferry to St George would make 
more possible, speedy boats of the 
full passenger tranying capacity of 
the Robert Garrett and Castleton, 
yet of a very greatly lessened size 
and cost. 

The service of the S. I. Electric 
R, R. Co. in bringing passengers to 
and taking them from St. George 
is fair and will probably be still im- 
proved when the new power station 
comes into full operation, but the 
convenience of passengers wishing 
to travel on the cars of the Mid- 
land R. R. has been altogether ig- 

The Rapid Transit or steam line 
has decided room for improvement 
in many respects; some of them 
your committee notes with pleasure 
are receiving attention, so that it 
mav not be necessary to go parrtcu- 
larly into that phase of the subj\: 't 
at this time. 

The special question of int^^est, 
however, growing out of this dis- 

tribution service is the one of fares. 
Nearly fifty years ago passengers 
were carried by lx)at to the Neath 
and East chores for $30 a year; 
now to the same points over $60 is 
charged ; then or shortly afterward 
IS tickets were sold for one dollar. 
Later, prior to the concentration at 
St. George, 1 1 tickets were sold for 
one dollar, and half fare charged 
for children, school boys and work- 
ing people receiving less than a 
certain fixed sum per week. With 
the inauguration of the Rapid 
Transit or concei^taticm system 
and up to June, 1894, a similar 
method prevailed, with, in addition, 
a commutation book plan which 
made the fare irom New Vprk to 
St. Geoige or any point on the 
North or East shores and vice 
versa about 6 1-2 cents per trip, 
or about 3 1-4C, for the boat ride. 
With present franchises secured by 
outside parties (at once sub-leased 
to the old operators of the ferry) 
all commutation or other reduced 
rates were abolished and the full 
charge of 5c. per trip was estab- 
lished for the ferry, for the electric 
cars and for the Rapid Transit ; or 
IOC. for the old commuter from and 
to every point except St. George, 
as against about 6 i-2c. before, an 
increase of over 50 per cent.: and 
IOC., as against 5c for the child, 
student and low-paid work girl — 
an increase of 100 per cent. A few 
living within walking distance of 
St George were ben^te«!. but the 
,vast majority were hurt and in 
many cases positive suffering was 

This resume is given to show 
how in the passmg of yea s this 
opaating company has increased 
the transportation rates, instil* of 
following the trend of pfi^^sive 
organizations in decreasing tliem. 

A point often raised by the com- 
pany is the dock rental for the Man- 
hattan terminal of something over 
$2Z»ooo and the franchise tax of 

51-2 per cent, on the gross receipts. 
The former is probably not excess- 
ive for the best dockage point on 
New York's water front; the sec- 
ond certainly does seem to be too 
high a rate, when we note that the 
city has only recently been consid- 
ering with favor a contract with 
Brooklyn ferries at but 3 per cent, 
of the gross receipts ; and when the 
city is expending vast sums for 
free bridges between Manhattan 
and Brooklyn, The Bronx and 
Queens, for all of which RicJimond 
pays its share yet gets no benefit. 

To the extent of such inequality 
there is discrimination against Sta- 
ten Island. 

If franchises were granted only 
on bases of definite rentals and uni- 
form percentages on gross receipts, 
■o the companies that agree under 
bond to give the best service to the 
people for the lowest rates for pas- 
sengers, teams and freight, then 
there would be no need of sudi 
committees as the presait. 

Towards attaining the condi- 
tions that we need, let us look for- 
Mrard and demand for Staten Island 
from the existing company, if pos- 
sible, and it not, from its successor 
or successors, and from the officials 
of our city as they may have 
power, the following rights : 

First. — The absolute reserva- 
tion of two slips at the Whitehall 
terminal for Staten Island business. 

Second. — More frequent trips 
than at present for passengers from 
St, George to Manhattan and Man- 
hattan to St. George; made in not 
over 20 minutes average time for 
each trip, dock to dock. 

Third, — New boats, well light- 
ed, well heated, well ventilated; 
having the hull divided into water- 
tight, non-communicating com- 
partments smd equipped with up- 
to-date sanitary convraimces, kept 
in cleanly condition. 

FourtL — Life preservers, life 

tx^ts and rafts in sufficient number 

to accommodate, not the averacje 
number of passensrers that the law 
new requir'.'s, but the maximiun. 

Fifth. — Landings from the up- 
per decks at both ends of the ferry, 
so as to connect with elevated ser- 
vice in Manhattan and the electric 
and footbridge service on Stalen 

Sixth. — Quicker acting and less 
clumsy tyini^ up devices at the 
landings, with broader exits from 
the boats, which should be shaped 
to fit the bridge thus eliminating 
gang planks. 

Seventh, — Commutation or re- 
duced fares at rates as favorable as 
those on other suburban lines. 

Eighth. — Additional ferry boats 
making landings on the north and 
east shores of Staten Island, run- 
ning at frequent intervals, for team 
traffic particularly; but carrying 
passengers also if they desire to go; 
rates for all such tr^c to be as 
low relatively as on other ferries 
running to points on the west and 
east sides of Manhattan, 

Ninth. — -If the city cam provide 
in Manhattan adequate landing 
places, certain trips of these "along 
sliore" boats to run to suitable 
points on the North and East Riv- 

Tenth. — To request the city au- 
thorities to acquire by purchase or 
condemnation suitable landinj^ 
places on Staten Island, necessary 
for such improved fi-rry facilities 
as are herein sup^gested. 

Eleventh. — To insure the contin- 
uance and even improvement of the 
ferry facilities and provide for 
changing conditions, the securing 
of some method by which the citi- 
zens of Richmond and Manhattan 
when they feel that the facilities 
are inadequate can appeal for re- 
lief to some official or officials, who 
shall be given discretion and pow- 
er to order such changes as might 
seem to be necessary. 

Twelfth.~^to facilitate the fi- 
nancing of such ferry com- 
panies, the franchise grants cover- 
ing the foregoing requirements 
should be for twenty or twenty-five 
years and be made at least 
one year before termination of the 
old fraiichise, to permit of new par- 
ties making adequate provision for 
necessary boats. 

Respectfullv submitted, 

Special Committee of the Staten 

Island Chamber of Commerce. 
Dec. 12, 1901. 


December 19, 1901 

The improvement of the Kill von 
KuU and Staten Island Sound and 
the deepening of the channel along 
these water ways is again claiming 
the attention of the Joint Water 
Ways Committee, which had secur- 
ed an appropriation of $696,000 in 
the last River and Harbor bill, 
which, as is well known, was de- 
feated by the Senator from Mon- 
tana during the closing moments of 
the last Congress. 

The Chairman of the Joint Water 
Ways Committee has recently been 
in Washin,q1on and it is confidently 
expected that the improvements 
asked for will a^^ain be Inserted in 
the River and Harbor bill, as Con- 
gressman Burton, of Ohio, who is 
fully familiar with the requirements 
of this improvement has again been 
selected as the Chairman of the 
River and Harbor Committee of 
the House. 

A matter of the utmost import- 
ance and requiring the attention not 
only of (this Chamber, but the own- 
ers of water fronts along the Kill 
von Kull, is the application now 

pending before the Riparian Gmi- 

mission of New Jersey for an ex- 
tension of the pier head line along 
the New Jersey shore of the Kill 
von Kull. This channel has. from 
time to time, been encroached upon 
by an extension of the pier head 
lines in New Jersey until it has 
been narrowed down to dimensi'^ns 
which make navi^-ation on the Kill 
von Kull extremely difficult. Be- 
sides this, the extension of the pier 
head Hne on the Jersey side has re- 
sulted in crowdiner liie pier head 
line on the Staten Island side of tiie 
Kill von Kull to a mai^n along 
the shore which is so narrow as to 
seriously limit its usefulness for 
business and manufiaictttring pur- 

The attention of property owners 
and others interested in th- naviga- 
tion of the Kill von Kull has been 
drawn to this subject by order of 
your Board of Directors and a 
meetin^sr for the discussion of the 
subject called for to-morrow (Fri- 
day) nieht at the office of Mr. 
Henry J. Creighton. corner of Wall 
street and Jav street, St. Georee : 
which meetinsf it is hoped will be 
attended bv anv members of this 
Chamber and others interested in 
the subject. 

At the meetin^: of the Directors 
held December 13th, the following 
resolution cm this subject was pass- 
ed and the Secretary has notified 
the Richmond Borou^ Board, the 
Department of Docks and Ferries, 
the Secretary of War and the Ri- 
parian Commission of New Jersey, 
of the nature of this resolution. 

Whereas, it appears that an ef- 
fort is being made by certain cor- 
porate interests doin^: business on 
the shores of the Kill von Kull in 
New Jersey, to have the present 
pier head line along the Kill von 
Kull extended, and 

Whereas, the proposed encroach- 
ment on this already narrow water 
way would be detrimaital to the in- 

terests of navigation on die Kill 
von Kull, over which more than 
one hundred and seventy million 
(170,000,000) dollars' worth of 

merchandise passes every year, and 

Whereas, the values of property 
alonor the Stalen Island shores 
would be seriously affected. 

Now therefore be it Resolved, 
that the Staten Island Chamber of 
Commerce protests aq-ainst such ex- 
tension and urines that the apolica- 
tion for an extension of the pier 
head line of the New Jersey shores 
be denied, and 

Be it further Resolved, that the 
Secretary of this Chamber send a 
copy of this resolution to the De- 
partment of Docks of the City of 
New York, to the Secretary of War 
and to the Riparian Qmunission of 
New Jersey. 

The Riparian Commission of 
New Jersey has acknowledged re- 
ceipt of the communication and has 
notified the Secretary that they will 
be ijlad to grant a hearing to mem- 
bers of this Chamber at a meeting 
of the Commission to be held at the 
office of the Commission in Jersey 
City at TT o'clock, Thursday, De- 
cember 26th. 

Numerous letters endorsing" the 
action of the Chamber in protesting 
a^^ainst an extension of the pier 
head line on the Jersey shore have 
been received. 

Your Secretary further desires to 
report that in view of the fact that 
the Municipal Council of the City 
of New York passed a resolution 
s^ranting a franchise to the Central 
Railroad of New Jersey for the oc- 
cupancy of one of the slips now 
used by the Statra Island Ferry 
Company, a committee consisting 
of President Irving, Vice-President 
L. L. Tribus and your Secretary 
yesterday called on Mayor Van 
Wyck and drew his attention to the 
fact that the diverting of this slip 
to the uses of a ferry between 
Whitehall street and QHnmunq>aw 

would seriously affect tthe ferry 
traffic between Staten Island and 
New York for the reason that the 
growing traffic d^nands the use of 

both of these slips. 

The Mayor's attention was also 
drawn to the fact that the sinking 
of the ferry boat Northfield by the 
Mauch Chunk was due in a lars^e 
measure to the fact that the sHp 
above referred to was beinor used 
for the ferry to Communipaw, 
which in leaving and entering its 
slip, is obliged to cross the bow of 
the Staten Island ferry boats leav- 
ing the adjoining slip. 

Mayor Van Wyck gave your 
committee a very kind reception 
and promised that no action would 
be taJcen in the premises by way of 
a confirmation of the franchise 
without giving this Chamber a 
hearing on the subject. 

A visk with the same purpose in 
view was also made to the Depart- 
ment of Docks and Ferries by your 
Ccmimittee and the assurance given 
them that nothing would be done by 
this Board without also giving this 
Chamber a hearing. 

At a meeting of the Staten Isl- 
and Chamber of Commerce held at 
the First National Bank Building 
December 19, 1901, the above re- 
port was approved and adopted, 
and the Secretary ordered to have 
5,000 copies of the same printed 
and properly distributed on Staten 

At this meeting it was further re- 
solved that the President appoint a 
committee whose duty it should be 
to incorporate the report in a peti- 
tion to be presented to the authori- 

ties of the City of New York, ask- 
ing for thte improvements mention- 
ed and for such other improvements 
as may be deemed necessary irom 
time to time. 

This conunittee was also directed 
to secure from the members of this 
Chamber and other associations as 
well as from representtative citizens 
of Staten Island and New York, 
pledges to appear at hearings and 
meetings and to co-operate with the 
committee in support of the meas- 
ures and improvements recom- 
mended in the report. 

On the 31st day of December, 
1 901, President Gugy AE. Irving 
appointed on this committee Messrs. 
Louis L. Tribus, Albert E. Had- 
lock and David J. Tysen. 

These gentlemen having express- 
ed their willingness to serve the 
committee is now constituted as 

On Dec. 20th, 190 1, a meeting of 
owners of water fronts on the Kill 
von Kull was held at INIr. Creigh- 
ton's office when it was decided to 
appear before the Riparian Commis- 
sion of New Jersey in opposition to 
the proposed extension of the pier 
head line on the New Jersey shores 
of the Kill von Kull. 

On Dec. 26th a delegation of 
members of this Chamber and prop- 
erty owners appeared before the 
Riparian Commission in Jersey City 
and there protested against the 
said extension of the pier head 
line in New Jersey. 

Respectfully sulmiitted, 
Cornelius G. Kot-ff. 
December 31, iqoi.