Behind the scenes at New York Waterways

Behind the scenes at New York Waterways

Years ago, when I lived in Englewood and worked in midtown, I used to commute by ferry.

It was a huge luxury — the ferry’s never been cheap — but it was an extraordinary way to start the day. Every day the color and light and shape of the water looked different; every day I picked out some new detail that I could focus on. And then there were the clouds! And the relationships of the buildings to each other as we drew closer to them! It was spectacular.

And then there was the added thrill of knowing that I would get to do it all over again on the way home.

Yes, there was the shlep up and down on River Road, the trek through the parking lot, and the huge amounts of money that it sucked up — but oh it was worth it!

So a few weeks ago, when I interviewed Alan Siperstein, a ferry captain for New York Waterway, I was thrilled to be able to go back to the ferry terminal at Port Imperial, which may or may not be in Weehawken. (It’s a sort of imperial city-state of its own, not entirely unlike Vatican City, just with ferryboats instead of cardinals).

The terminal has gotten far more sophisticated, upscale, and huge than it had been when I knew it, but the view of the river and the city beyond it had not changed. It still smelled vaguely of the sea. It was a rainy day, and Manhattan gleamed in a kind of dull pewter; the water was the steel that is shot with light. It was beautiful.

After I interviewed Alan, he invited me to ride to and from Manhattan in the wheelhouse.

It was wonderful.

I never thought I’d get to do that.

So thank you, Captain Alan Siperstein; thank you, New York Waterways, and for that matter, thank you, Jewish Standard.

read more: