If you keep a diary, you can post descriptive jottings here under “comments.” The following, an excerpt from “Journal of a Junk Junkie,” was written before the charred remains of the old Staten Island ferry terminal was replaced by its present lucent incarnation:
I go to Staten Island now and then, to experience the river more directly, and to escape the cacaphony, the geometric confinement of Manhattan. Walking down Broadway, I think of Walt Whitman doing the same. At the end of leafy Battery Park, with its public sculptures and over-explicit war memorials, juts the vast curved wreck of the old terminal, whose arcing facade rhymes in shape (and once, in bronze-green color) with Miss Liberty’s famed crown. Passengers wait below, in the shadowy dank limbo of a holding room that vaunts, through the twin black breaches of its slips, a shock of blaze-bright river.
The pitching, flat-footed ferry is the cadmium yellow of a taxi, or the inner yellow of a certain two-tone daffodil. The throng and I pour aboard. Bikes and cars are stowed cozily below. The boat gushes off with a great horn blast (a kind of maritime grunt) and leaves the black-toothed pilings in a foam of wash. The air smells large, oily, fishy. On board, everyone’s noises (shoe-shine hawker, amplified songstress, rap-rhythm battery salesman, beer concessionaire, etc.) is engulfed by the boat’s vibrant drone. I leave the churchy pews to go out on deck. I hang over the rail and watch the mesmerizing water, a stiff, steel-gray silk decked with frothy boas and furbelows. Vast old Brooklyn and penalesque Governor’s Island glide by. The Verazzano Bridge is etched faintly in the distance, no bigger than an eyelash. Abruptly, just ahead, looms a hulking barge bearing a tonnage of boxcars. (After adjusting to distance, most nearby things seem huge!) On the right, the Statue of Liberty salutes dreamily. Aft, the city, with its dazzling tabletop clutter of chrome and brass and steel, dwindles into a utopian poster . . . then a post card . . . then a postage stamp – as enormous, shrill gulls ellipse and circumflex astern.
In no time we dock at St. George; the ferry sideswipes the pilings, churns up the river like a steamboat, and shudders gracelessly into a berth. The ark empties into a reverberant cathedral of damp gloom which, like the depot on Manhattan’s side, has become an aviary of pigeons. Ah, the country!