Posts Tagged ‘hoboken’

The Binghamton Ferry

NY harbor is known as the birthplace of steam ferry travel. The first successfully recorded operation of a steamboat ferry was the North River Steamboat, operated by Robert Fulton, which ran from NY to Albany starting in 1807. Four years later, regular ferry service began running to and from Manhattan. Before rail tunnels under the Hudson were established, the railroads terminated in Hoboken, making ferry travel vitally important for anyone attempting to reach NYC. Nearly 400 different double ended ferries operated in the NY harbor during the 19th and 20th centuries, with a peak of 150 ferries actively operating in the early 1900’s. This webpage offers a detailed look at the history of ferry travel across the Hudson and has many pictures of the steam ferries in operation.

The Binghamton was one of 6 steam ships run by the Hoboken Ferry Company, a subsidiary of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. It was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Company at Newport News, Virginia and was launched on February 20, 1905. The ferry operated from 1905-1968, traveling 2 miles from the Hoboken Terminal to Barclay Street, a twelve-minute journey. She was able to carry nearly 1,000 passengers as well as vehicles. The Binghamton is what is known as a double-ender, meaning cars could drive in one side of the boat and exit from the other. This made for increased speed and efficiency of loading and unloading passengers.

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Photo courtesy of “Burger International Photography at http://www.burgerinternationalinc.com via flicker

In 1907, the first of two rail tunnels under the Hudson was completed. By 1937, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, as well as the George Washington Bridge, had opened up making automobile travel into the city much easier. With these developments, the need for steam ferries diminished and by 1967 the ferry run was closed down. However, ferry service would return to the Hudson river in 1986, with the introduction of the NY Waterway. Small diesel powered boats began runs from Edgewater, Hoboken and Weehawken and now are regularly used by commuters trying to take advantage of lower rents in Hudson and Bergen County.

The Binghamton’s second life began when the Erie Lackawanna Railroad sold her to Edward Russo, who planned to convert her into a restaurant. Russo planned to open for business in 1970, but the waters surrounding the pier took a long time to dredge and a tugboat strike caused further delays. Russo would eventually find himself unable to find a suitable person to run his restaurant and he sold the Binghamton to its next owner, Ferry Binghamton Inc. On February 28, 1975 the ship was moved to her current location and opened as a restaurant later that year.

The restaurant featured a popular nightclub and it operated successfully until 2007. Then it was sold to private businessman Donald Kim, who planned to renovate the Binghamton and re-open it. Despite the completion of nearly a million dollars in repairs, damage was spreading faster than the repairs could be made. Kim soon found himself in a lengthy battle with the town of Edgewater over code violations and fines. The expense of the repairs and time spent fighting the town allowed the damage to reach a tipping point and finally, in 2011, Kim filed for a demolition permit.

The impending demolition caused a great deal of consternation due to the Binghamton’s placement on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places (granted on July 9, 1982). By the summer of 2012 the Binghamton had deteriorated enough that it was actively taking on water. The side that faced the river had nearly been destroyed. Kim decided to sublease the existing pier to another developer who planned to scrap the Binghamton for salvage, including the steel hull, and bring in a new boat to be used as a restaurant.

Then in October 2012 came Superstorm Sandy. The already weakened ship was no match for the intense flooding and winds that Sandy brought. During Sandy, the entire boat was under several feet of water. Pieces of her bow broke off and floated to shore.

Here is a Flickr set of pictures taken after Sandy.

Here is a Video made during Superstorm Sandy.

This news report from CBS news clearly shows the damage done to the river side of the boat.

The following pictures of the Binghamton and immediate surrounding area were taken by Corrine Gehegan, a local podiatrist whose office is next to the Binghamton. They were taken approximately 3 days after the storm had passed and flooding had subsided.

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To add insult to injury, a fire broke out on May 19, 2013. There was no damage to the boat, only the pier and dock that extended from the river walk to the ferry. At that time, Kim restated that he planned to demolish the boat. As of August, 2013 nothing has occurred. The boat still sits there, its bow slightly below the water line. When the demolition finally comes, it will be a sad end to a famous and historic ship.

I visited in spring 2013 and entertained thoughts of entry. Aside from the pier being completely unsafe, you could tell from 100 yards away that the boat itself was completely unsafe. One wonders if it can be safely towed, or would it break into pieces? Below are pictures I took in June, 2013.

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Here is another video about the end of the Binghamton ferry.

More pictures and info are available on the Binghamton Ferry Facebook page.

Frank Sinatra’s House

Frank Sinatra’s boyhood house will become a Sinatra Museum. Maybe. The newspaper article on the door is dated 1999, and the place doesn’t look close to becoming a museum… and this was in 2004 when I took these pictures…

>415 Monroe, Hoboken, Hudson County

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Location of the first baseball game

Ask any baseball fan who invented baseball and the answer you’ll most likely get is Abner Doubleday, great grand father of Nelson Doubleday (co-owner of the New York Mets). In 1907 baseball commissioner A G Spalding investigated the origin of the game. According to Ken Burns’ 1994 baseball documentary, Spalding was hoping to find a distinctly American origin for the game. Spalding’s commission was led to Doubleday by Amber Graves, an 84-year-old mining engineer who claimed to have known Doubleday as a young man in Cooperstown, and said he remembered watching Doubleday concoct the rules of the game. The baseball Hall of Fame was established in Cooperstown in honor of it being the origins of the sport, and the field is called Doubleday Field. Current Commissioner Bud Selig even laid a wreath at Doubleday’s grave.

But is that the real origin of baseball?

Baseball is not the first game to involve hitting a ball with a stick. The closest forerunner to baseball is a game called townball, in which the primary way of throwing out a runner was to hit him with a thrown ball, similar to dodgeball. In 1842, Alexander Cartwright and Daniel Adams began drawing up rules for a new game that they had been practicing, to be called “base ball.” In 1845, they formed the first-ever baseball club, adopting 20 rules not previously included in earlier editions of the game: three strikes to a batter, three outs to an inning, tags and force-outs in lieu of throwing at batters, and the addition of an umpire. Cartwright and Adams named their team the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club.

On June 19, 1846 the Knickerbockers played the first organized, pre-planned game under those rules against another team called the New York Nine, losing by a score of 23-1 in four innings in front of a small crowd, on Elysian Fields in Hoboken. These are well documented facts, but the more important question is was it the first ever organized baseball game? According to a 2000 article in National Review, Doubleday was not in Cooperstown in 1839, and in his many diaries, he makes no mention of baseball, and some say he never even was in Cooperstown.

What it comes down to is that no one person invented baseball. People took an existing game and gave it a twist. The question is who and when. According to this site, there were variations of the game being played in many eastern cities in the 1820’s and 1830’s. Many used rules other then what we find in the game today. So can you really claim credit for inventing a game simply because you added one or two specific rules such as 3 outs and 3 strikes? Or if you changed the rules from hitting the runner, to throwing it the first baseman? It all depends on how you define “invent”. The debate is unlikely to be settled now or ever.

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