If you’re suffering from a wee bit of nausea and vertigo, there are two activities you should probably avoid. The first? Boats. Especially if they are on the Hudson river on a windy day. The second? The upper decks of Yankee Stadium.
Any guesses as to how I spent the last two days?
No, I did not sign up for Trapeze School. Yet. (Or ever. That shit looks scary.)
But I have to tell you about the magical boat I toured on Sunday. She’s named the Yankee Ferry and she’s just plain magical.
She’s docked on the Hudson River, a mere four blocks from my apartment. I remember when they first towed her to town. (She didn’t run at the time.) I’d sit out on the pier with my thermos full of wine and wonder what she was all about. Another Hudson River tour boat? An extension of the museum, maybe? An escape plan for an impending zombie apocalypse?
Then deck furniture appeared. And planters. And a laundry line. People were LIVING on the boat. In the Hudson frickin’ River! How bad ass is that?
It’s owned by a quirky and beautiful artist couple (of course) and is an absolute delight to the eyes. I’d attended an open house once before this weekend, but that had focused on the couple’s artistic works (which are absolutely stunning). The tour this weekend was focused on the boat’s history.
Built in 1907, she was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. She was originally built as a luxury day-cruise vessel, but then went on to serve in both the World Wars, amongst many other things. When she retired in 1987, she was the longest continually running ferry in the United States.
She’s the last surviving Ellis Island ferry. When the ocean liners would near the coast, the Yankee Ferry would sail out past the harbor to meet them. There, still at sea, the steward passengers (read lower class) would board the Yankee who would transport them directly to Ellis Island for processing.
Richard, one of the owners, told us a story of how they had one day noticed two older women strolling along the pier and pointing at the Yankee. When he emerged onto the deck to investigate, he heard the women arguing. (Pardon me while I take a literary license here, but this is the gist of the conversation.)
“I know that’s the boat that brought me to this country,” said the older, frailer woman.
“Mother, I don’t think that craft is exactly sea worthy,” replied her companion.
“That’s it. I’m absolutely certain.”
Richard called out to them, asking if he could be of any help.
“My mother believes this is the boat that brought her to America,” answered the daughter. “But she’s never mentioned the Yankee Ferry before.”
“She did serve at Ellis Island,” Richard said. “But then she was called the Machigonne.”
“I knew it was her,” sighed the old lady. “I’d watch for her through the windows of the building, knowing that if I could just get back on that boat, I’d see New York. Everything would be alright.”
She’d come over at age thirteen and truly believed the streets of Manhattan were paved with gold. Imagine how hopeful and magical that boat must have seemed. I would have named her the S.S. Apocalypse (after my unicorn, of course).
It always makes my heart a little tight when I imagine how much hope an inanimate object can represent. Like a bag of chemo or an engagement ring. Then again, I still have that same physical tug on my heart each time I see the Liberty Bitch in all her shining copper glory. Every single time. And I see her quite a bit.
Whoa, hey! Someone seems to be feeling a little somber today, eh? I hate it when that shit sneaks up on you.
Don’t panic, I managed to still snag a few shots of the beautiful living quarters and their quirky and inventive decorating style. Plus now I have photographic proof it can work next time Rocco tries to tell me I’m mixing too many colors and patterns. Also, HGTV apparently did a piece on the Yankee Ferry as an extreme home a few years back. You can watch that video clip here, if you’re interested. Plus you get to see the adorable couple that lives there. (Victoria has a dress made completely from bubble wrap!)
Just in case that wasn’t enough. You can see all my photos from the tour here. Be warned though, photography is not my thing.