Categorized | Manhattan, Multimedia, Video

Opening of new South Ferry Station

by Xiomara Martinez-White and Sergey Kadinsky

One of the last 1 trains passes through the old South Ferry station. This station first opened in 1905.

One of the last 1 trains passes through the old South Ferry station. This station first opened in 1905.

The South Ferry loop on the 1 train opened in 1905, allowing a one-seat ride between the Staten Island ferry and Harlem. By 1946, subway trains were expanded to 8 cars, and the station became obsolete. Without room for growth, its tight loop forced passengers to move to the first four cars, in order to access the station. Gap fillers moved the platforms closer to the train doors.


Platform gap fillers from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

Curvy and crowded, the old station was a source of frustration for commuters rushing for the ferry.

Century-old Artworks

An original 1905 station relief by architects Heins and LaFarge

An original 1905 station relief by architects Heins and LaFarge

Each station on the early 20th century IRT lines had its own theme artworks. For example, the Wall Street station had reliefs of the namesake wooden wall from the New Amsterdam period.

In 1990, the Arts for Transit Program commissioned a modern adaptation of the theme. Its artist, Sandra Bloodworth, is the current director of the program.


Sail artwork by Sandra Bloodworth from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

As of today, both of the above artworks are no longer accessible to the public. In their place, the new South Ferry station boats of more ambitious designs.

New Artworks
Artists Doug and Mike Starn of Red Hook, Brooklyn, designed the installation for the new South Ferry station, entitled “See it split, see it change.” The Starn brother say the nature motif represents interconnection between the train’s riders: riders begin at the South Ferry and “branch out” all over the city.

One of the highlights is a mosaic map of Manhattan, pointing upward on the wall. The map shows Manhattan’s landscape in 1640 and today.

Pictures of branches on the wall look over the escalators at the new station. Many of the branch pictures were taken in nearby Battery Park.

A maple leaf watches over the stairs leading to the new station.

Through a silver leaf gate, the station displays an original piece of wall from New Amsterdam. The wall was discovered during excavation for the new station.

Artist Mike Starn looks over at his work as the first passengers enter the station.

Scenes of the Station
The new station didn’t open until noon, but people started showing up early.

Once the Transit Authority gave the word, passengers began running in, attempting to be the first passengers to ride from the new station.

Scott Sandefur, a tourist from Washington, D.C., holds up the first MetroCard bought at the new station.

David Spectra of Manhattan wanted to be the first musician to play the new South Ferry…


David Spectra from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

but he was edged out by official “first musician to play the new South Ferry” Sean Grissom, known as “The Cajun Cellist.”


Subway musician Sean Grissom from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

He serenaded train riders with an instrumental version of Pink Floyd’s “Money.”

photo credits: X. Martinez-White, video credits: S. Kadinsky

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