4. Connections between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side – a grand journey across the East River

Grand Ferry Park

Unlike Citywide Ferry Service, 19th century ferries did not connect neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Rather, these routes took commuters directly to points in lower Manhattan. Whereas the Union Ferry Company commandeered the South Brooklyn crossings, smaller operators in Williamsburg sought connections to the Lower East Side.

In the 1840s, the neighborhood had three Manhattan crossings: One was a short route from Grand Street to Houston St; another, called the Grand Street Ferry linked Grand Street to Grand Street in Chinatown (Grand Ferry Park, which opened next to the Williamsburg Bridge in 1988, is named after this ferry); a third traveled from Division Avenue all the way down to Peck Slip, a distance of over 1.6 miles, by far the longest route on the East River. The Citywide Ferry Service Rockaway route spans 16 miles to lower Manhattan, over 10 times Williamsburg’s 19th-century record.