Sailor Babo rides the Staten Island Ferry!

Woohoo! We’re in New York City!

HG made a scarf for me and told me I should wear it while we were there.  She said we were going to ride the ferry and see New York Harbor, and it’s really breezy on the boat. Plus people in Manhattan dress au courant.  I have no idea what that means, but HG says she wants me to look good.

This isn’t the ferry we rode that day. For some reason, they were using a ferry that didn’t have the open deck on the top, so we had to stay inside the passenger cabin. Lucky for us, we got to stand next to one of the big open windows facing the sea.

This was the view as we left the Whitehall Terminal from Manhattan. It was a beautiful clear day with only a light breeze.  HG said that was good, because if the winds were strong and the water choppy, we’d be in for a rough ride.

We saw a lot of different boats on the Harbor that day.

tugboat with barge


garbage scow

Oh, that funny green thing in the background is the Statue of Liberty.  When she appeared, all of the passengers jumped to our side of the ferry to take her picture. I was amazed the boat didn’t tip over, but HG said the ferries were designed to be very stable.

We also saw a lot of helicopters buzzing overhead.

HG said that they charge tourists $150 a person for a fifteen-minute trip over the Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. But we got to ride the ferry for free! HG says she loves New York City because you can ride all over town without ever owning a car, and the cost of a Metro pass is a bargain compared to the cost of owning a car in California.

It took us just 30 minutes to get across the Harbor to the Staten Island terminal. Once we were there, we had to get off, then get in line and re-board the ferry for the trip back.  That seemed kind of dumb to me, but HG said a lot of New Yorkers use the ferry as a way to get to work, so we had to give them a chance to board the ferry and get a seat.

The trip back was beautiful but uneventful.  “Which is GOOD!” said HG. No shipwrecks or re-enactments of “Titanic” for her!

I waved to the Coast Guards at their station by the Whitehall Terminal.

After we got off the ferry, HG and her daughter went to see the National Museum of the American Indian, which is located in the old Customs House on Bowling Green. I was afraid HG was going to stuff me back in her bag while she looked at the art, but to our surprise there were these beautiful paintings of ships on the rotunda of the Customs House.

They were painted by an artist named Reginald Marsh. HG said he was part of the New York social realism school that flourished during the Depression. Marsh liked painting pictures of homeless men and women and burlesque performers as well as ships. He also did a number of covers for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. The murals for the Customs House rotunda were commissioned by the Works Progress Administration in 1937.

Amerigo Vespucci

more tugboats!

The rotunda itself was also beautiful. HG said it had been designed in 1900 by Cass Gilbert, the Minnesota architect who influenced Frank Lloyd Wright.

Oh, we also looked at the Indian art. HG promised she wouldn’t take long, but as usual she was in there for over an hour.  I actually liked a lot of the art there, though.  No hoity-toity aristocrats, no crazy blobs of paint or naked ladies.  The American Indians liked making things that were both useful and beautiful.

"night frolic," bowl by Diego Romero, 2003

Sioux Indian dancer doll

It was a fun day and I wished it could go on forever.  But HG promised that next time, we’d go to the Museum of Natural History. Wheee!

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44 Responses to Sailor Babo rides the Staten Island Ferry!

  1. Pingback: jet lagged. « Hangaku Gozen's Blog

  2. Lauri says:

    Babos have been soooo busy these past two weeks!

  3. M-----l says:

    I’ve got a tiny Lego Statue of Liberty figurine in my room and this post made me realize that I’ve got her torch and tablet in the wrong hands. Thanks for clearing that up, SB.

    • Hmm, how could you mix the two up? Aren’t the arms fixed so that one is set for holding the torch, and the other for the book?

      • M-----l says:

        It’s one of those little Lego people with moveable arms and legs (about an inch and a half tall). She came with two accessories and I put them in the wrong hands. I’m a bad American.

  4. Lurkertype says:

    Sailor Babos really get around!

  5. Lurkertype says:

    BTW, he looks very sharp. Good outfit for NYC.

    • It was! We did get a couple of days where the temps got into the 80s, but that didn’t seem to deter the Upper East Siders, who wore jackets and scarves even in the steamiest weather. Talk about suffering for fashion’s sake! I wasn’t fond of the other look either, which was short shorts and tube tops or spaghetti-strap camis, no matter how inappropriate the look was for one’s body shape. It hadn’t occurred to me that you could have double muffin tops. :p

  6. amelie says:

    Ooh, nice day to be on a ferry. I didn’t realize New Yorkers took those to work. That actually sounds kind of relaxing. Lovely scenery. The Marsh paintings are interesting. Delicate, and I like the use of color. I’ll have to check out more of the paintings. I liked night frolic as well. The idea that our functional items should be beautiful is a lost idea, sadly.

    I’m glad Babo was not in a bag, I enjoyed the tour! Thanks also for the mention of Social Realism. I found this website

    I just love the themes, the down to earth colors and the unpretentious nature of the works. I wonder if this is due for a revival.

    • I was thinking, wouldn’t this be cool to ride the ferry every day to work? I suppose you’d have to get on the subway or bus afterwards to get downtown, but it’s like you have this half hour each way to sit and reflect.

      On the other hand, my daughter says Staten Island doesn’t have much. It’s basically a bedroom community of Manhattan, so you have to go into the city for everything. That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, especially in the winter. They also close the ferries when the weather gets nasty, so if you have to get into the city for work or an appointment, you’re stuck.

      I think social realism is alive and well: only the focus has changed. Instead of blue-collar workers and “hobos” standing around a fire in a trash can, there’s been a shift to the suburbs and the middle class, to office workers and people in malls. I’m thinking of the sculptor George Segal, or the painter James Howard Kunstler. Richard Avedon’s series of photographs of coal miners are more in the traditional vein, but he shoots his subjects in a studio, which gives the portraits an odd objectivity and focus. The art is more ironic, or “cooler” in tone than the artists of the Depression era. But realism has always been around: it’s seen more in illustration and commercial art.

  7. phantomxii says:

    Man, New Yorkers are weird, dressing with currants and whatnot. I don’t know what that has to do with a scarf, either. It’s all too sophisticated for me. Pretty pictures, though. Boats! Wheeeee!!! 🙂

    • Hello, this is the phantomxii with the graduate degree in English? Did your account get hacked?

      Boats, yeah, wheee! Scarves all the rage, woohoo! Assuming the voice of a small felt toy, really hard. Plus mine likes trouble. It’s like traveling with a really mischievous eight-year-old.

      • phantomxii says:

        Well, yeah, I have an ENGLISH degree. Not Mexican or Islam or whatever that language was you used. Me want hot dog! Yay Kardashians!!!

        (Oh, gosh, I’m sorry—apparently election season has already caused substantial damage to my…um…thinker thingy…whatever it’s called….)

        • I’m worried about you. Maybe I should send you a bottle of magnesium supplements, or a book of Sudoku puzzles. Except I can’t do Sudoku. Me be bad at math.

          • phantomxii says:

            Wait, you’re gonna send me a gun? Like, a .44 Magnesium, right? Cool. Me like guns. Me shoot at bad!! Sudoku is good, they make good cars. My wife drives a Sudoku Outback!

            *stares at TV and drools, occasionally reaching into Doritos bag, only to discover that it is still empty*

            • Lauri says:

              Wow. This election is getting to everyone.

            • I’m going to ask M—–l to check up on you. Did Amy toss the kids into the Sudoku and flee already?

              And stop eating Doritos. Those things are drenched in stuff that kills your brain cells. As if Taco Bell couldn’t get nastier, they’re now making a taco encased in a giant Doritos shell. I just saw the commercial last night and wondered what the heck happened to the FDA. Did they all take off for some R&R in Columbia too?

  8. e2thec says:

    That 2nd Reginald Marsh mural shows a ship that was owned by the shipping company that my dad worked for… wish the name (on the bow) showed a bit more clearly.

    So SB, you have *very* good taste!

    • Wow, how did you find that out? I know Marsh would go to the pier and do sketches of actual ships for the murals, but I wasn’t aware his paintings were that realistic.

      Sailor Babo was surprised that we’d find marine art in a stuffy-looking Beaux-Arts building. I can’t believe they were thinking of tearing it down back in the 90s.

      • e2thec says:

        I looked at the colors on the smokestacks. Shipping lines paint distinctive patterns of color there, so that their ships can be identified. (My dad would have been able to tell you what piers those ships in the murals were docked at – I know that Pier 52 belonged to US Lines, his company…)

        I *think* the ship in the other mural was owned by Cunard Lines, but I’d have to doublecheck that.

        afaik, Marsh was pretty true to life when working on commission. : )

      • e2thec says:

        My dad was a cargo ship captain, but many of the shipping lines did double duty with cargo ships as well as passenger liners.

        You can see some of ocean liners docked in Manhattan at this link.

        Manhattan is still a seaport, although most ships now dock over in Elizabeth, NJ and thereabouts.

        • If I remember correctly—I was reading all of this info on the run, so I only got a quick glimpse—they still have passenger ships docking at the piers by 54th Street on the Hudson. They also have a series of smaller piers by Battery Park: I think that’s where the sailboat was headed. The NY Port Authority also built new piers in New Jersey and Brooklyn for cruise lines to disembark. But the Harbor is very busy during the day! My daughter said she didn’t think it was much fun for small boats to cruise the Harbor, since the wakes from the ferry and industrial barges are huge.

          E. , this is fascinating information you’ve given about your dad. You should write more about him and his work on your blog. Maritime history has its own genre within the field, and it’s very popular. Anything you can add would be great.

          • e2thec says:

            Maritime history is very complex… I thought I knew a lot about it, being a sailor’s daughter, but then I spent the summer as an intern/part-time employee at Mystic Seaport back in 1979 and found out how vastly ignorant I was! (Seriously; most other interns knew *way* more than I did. History doesn’t get into one’s brain by osmosis…)

      • e2thec says:

        P.S.: whenever my dad’s ship docked (after a voyage), he always had to go to the Customs House, as there was considerable paperwork to take care of. Not sure about prior to a voyage, though – I *think* that was mostly handled by the US Lines office staff (office was at 1 Broadway for many years), but I’m not 100% certain of that…

        • I think we missed Broadway, since we took the subway to the Bowling Green station. (Lots of suits got off at the Wall Street station: it was kind of funny to see the car empty so quickly there.) It would have been a quick walk from the Customs House to 1 Broadway, however. The city has done a great job of fixing up the area and making it very park-like. However, since the Customs House is still a federal building, my daughter and I had have our bags scanned and we walked through a metal detector. We also went through metal detectors at the ferry terminals. Things have really changed since your father went though the place, I’ll bet.

          • e2thec says:

            they’re really changed since the last time I was in lower Manhattan… which was prior to 9/11. (I’ve been in midtown since then, also Brooklyn, but didn’t have to go through security screening anywhere…)

  9. Jane says:

    Hey, Aussie babo went on a Sydney ferry today as well.

  10. mmcurator says:

    SB must have been in heaven between riding a ferry and seeing all those boats! And he does indeed look quite fashionable in his scarf – I’m sure he blended right in with all the chic New Yorkers. 🙂

    • It was SB’s first time on a boat, so he was very excited! Seeing the marine art in the rotunda was a plus. Sailor Babo and I didn’t know this before we went to New York, but scarves were all the rage out there. Even when it was uncomfortably warm, we saw young women and some men wearing scarves over a tank top or “wife beater” shirt. I’m still puzzling over the guy who wore a wool scarf and no shirt. Maybe he was using the scarf to cover up a scar or a bad tattoo?

      • e2thec says:

        did he pee in your bag? 😉

        • He threatened to if I kept him in there too long! So I walked around downtown with a felt Uglydoll tucked under my arm. It was a good thing a little boy with a Kermit the Frog was on the ferry with us. I didn’t feel that weird, seeing him.

          • e2thec says:

            heehee. I think you probably weren’t a curiosity at all; NYC is so full of odd things and odd-looking people and whatnot.

            The only truly memorable thing I’ve ever encountered up there was a long time ago, though really, it was more cringe-worthy than anything – I was on a crosstown bus and some woman was singing “Killing Me Softly” to a guy. They were both standing; I think they were probably both high or drunk, and everyone did their best to *not* listen/look while sneaking covert glances. (The singing went on for a while – she was *not* quiet!)

            • I think I could handle that better than the crazy street preacher who boarded the the crowded 6 train I was riding and proceeded to talk about the sin of artificial insemination. “Men and women should do it naturally, as Adam and Eve did it! I’d be happy to give them a demonstration of how to inseminate a woman as God meant it to be!”

              Everyone else seemed to be able to look in different directions and act as if the guy wasn’t there. I was like, squirm. And ‘Oh please, don’t let him take any notice of me!’

              • e2thec says:

                Hah! See, a quintessential NYC experience! 😉

                The singing woman was very loud, and it was a long 15 minutes on that bus…she and the guy did not get off at my stop, so who knows – maybe they were there ’til the end of the line. (Poor other passengers.)

                • LOL! “Killing Me Softly” isn’t even that long a song! She probably sung the same stanza over and over again, like most drunks. But there are signs all over the bus telling riders not to make any excessive noise now. No radios, no phones. And no food. Not even coffee. Giuliani wanted to run the city like Singapore.

  11. amyhftw says:

    Fantastic adventure! Loved your museum shots!

  12. Coooooooool! I bet Sailor Babo loved being out on the water most of all 😉

    • As long as he was on the boat and not IN the water, hee!

      I hadn’t done anything nautical with Sailor Babo, so this was fun. I’m now thinking we should try taking the ferry to Alcatraz or a whale watching tour of the Bay.

  13. Pingback: under the weather (day 1 in nyc) « Hangaku Gozen's Blog

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