Who is taking the steam ferry to Brooklyn in 1836

This was how you crossed the East River in the 1830s: by a steam-powered ferry sporting an American flag and a belching smokestack. Perhaps you’d be accompanied by some horses, one attached to a covered wagon.

That’s what this hand-colored 1836 engraving from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, by G.K. Richardson after William Henry Bartlett, tells us. It’s simply titled, “The Ferry at Brooklyn, New York.”

You might take this river crossing all in stride and not demonstrate any excitement about it, as the ladies talking in a circle on the left side of the ferry seem to be doing. Or the ferry ride might thrill you or make you ponder things, as you rest against the railing like the figures on the right.

Go to the Smithsonian site via the link above and use the zoom button to really see the ferry riders.

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6 Responses to “Who is taking the steam ferry to Brooklyn in 1836”

  1. boxwoodbooks Says:

    ‘Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
    Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!’ Walt Whitman

  2. David Richard Says:

    Beautiful, I do love these old prints and early urban scenes!

  3. Benjamin P. Feldman Says:

    For a comprehensive, lavishly illustrated history of ferry boats in NY Harbor, see « Over and Back »
    https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8232-1245-3

  4. Tom Padilla Says:

    More likely than a “covered wagon” would be multiple teams of horse s attached to market truck wagons of produce grown in Brooklyn or Queens.

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