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The Ferry Boats of Governors Island

The first Governors Island Ferry

circa 1860

The GENERAL OTIS in New York Harbor

circa 1913

The MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM H. HART, originally christened the JOHN A. LYNCH was built at Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, in 1925, one of sixteen ferries constructed to operate on various East River crossings.

She worked for the city until sold to the Army Quartermaster Corps. in 1940. Renamed the MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM H. HART, she was used for the route between lower Manhattan and the Army base on Governors Island. The ferry Major General Hart. was sold by the South Street Seaport. The new owners had her towed to Port Reading, NJ and, after some cash flow problems, abandoned her there. She now sits sunk with her car deck awash at that location.

Following provided by Ed Drury: 2/8/02

Here at my pier in Staten Island I have the ferryboat "Private Nicholas Minue" One of the newer Governors Island boats. She is for sale. We have also had the "The Tides" and "The Narrows" here at one time or another. "The Tides" went to Jamestown RI as a motel and then to Boston. She was badly neglected and is in poor shape. She is being sold at auction this month in Boston. The "Narrows" was sold three years ago. She went to Venezuela and is now a barracks vessel for workmen on the Amazon River.

Other ferry boats used during the Army days were the GENERAL HUMPHRIES and the SGT. CORNELIUS H. CHARLTON.

It is interesting to note that the Ferry Terminal on both the Manhattan and Governors Island sides is still referred to as the Barge Office, a reminder that for over 200 years the only means of crossing was by small boats or barges.

Royal Trivia

One of the G.I. ferryboats was used to give Queen Elizabeth II a tour of New York Harbor during her visit ca. 1957 or 1958 had a special windshield made of (reportedly) bulletproof glass or Plexiglas set up on the upper deck just below the pilothouse. After her visit, the glass was removed but the frame stayed in place at least until I left in the fall of 1960.

Submitted by Paul Jurkoic

Do you remember your first ride on a Governors Island ferry?

...and your last?
Enrique (Henry) del Rosario, Governors Island Brat '52-'55
Website Administrator