Get off the Boat for Once!

05/25/2005 10:00 AM |

On May 20, the city unveiled a $124 million modernization of the St. George Ferry Terminal. For decades the terminal corralled its waiting commuters within a cardboard-boxlike lobby that elevated public space with the romance of the DMV. The new design features an elevated roof with a glass ceiling and full-length windows that allow riders to see the sky, and to see approaching that canonized orange beacon pulling into dock from the harbor.
For commuters, the terminal is a quick connection before a train or bus finally delivers them home, while tourists mostly move from arriving to departing ferry. Improved retail space should bring more life to the hub, though none of it is yet filled (and will hopefully be more than fast food).
Besides a nice sight for sore-eyed commuters (the design still doesn’t change that Staten Islanders have the longest-average-work commute in the country, according to the last census) a revitalized St. George is good for a city that squandered its waterfront for so long, and is now content to convert what’s left to luxury condos. In addition to its improved promenade, and the small, lovely Richmond County Ballpark, there is also the Island’s 9/11 Memorial, designed by Masayuki Sono.
The memorial is worth the four-minute walk from the terminal. It features two 40-foot-high wings that waver toward the water as paper envelopes in the wind, framing the void left by the WTC. Within the wings, illuminated by soft lights at night, are the silhouetted profiles of the nearly 300 Island victims. A native of this off-the-chart borough myself, I know my share of those lost, and though the profiles might want for accuracy, the desire for such a personal touch speaks volumes about this community, and let’s you know why its worthy of more than a just free boat ride.     Christopher Ludwig