7. The Train Connection at Hunters Point – when trains bowed to ferries, and Hunters Point was Queens’ great commuter hub
LIRR hub and ferry terminal at Borden Avenue, 1891. Map via Wikimedia Commons.
Historically, New York City ferries were divided into 3 camps: trans-Hudson services that were owned by New Jersey railroads, East River services that were run by ferry companies, and the stand-alone Staten Island ferry. There was, however, a ferry in Western Queens that was operated by the Long Island Rail Road. In the 1850s, a group of enterprising landowners decided to develop Hunters Point.
In 1859, a new ferry service was established to serve this community. The ferry ran from Borden Avenue to East 35th Street – essentially the route that carries Hunters Point ferry commuters to Midtown today. For the next 50 years, until the Pennsylvania Railroad built a tunnel between Sunnyside Yards and Penn Station, the LIRR relied on the Hunters Point ferry to transport its customers to Manhattan. The ferry was discontinued in 1925.