National Geographic : 1959 Jun
p I Wooden Racks Creak and Groan as a Three-decker Glides into Port and a Two-decker Eases Out To dock a skittering 2,350-ton ferryboat in a narrow U-shaped slip is never easy, and the crosscurrents that meet in front of Manhattan's Whitehall Terminal make the task even more difficult. Here the 290-foot Cornelius G. Kolff (left) coasts the last few yards to the dock. Seconds earlier, when the captain reversed propellers, the big vessel shuddered and slowed, then hit the pilings with a resounding thump. Oak staves bent so far they seemed certain to snap. But the elastic fence contained the boat and pushed her back. Now she grates along the timbers until her bow touches the pier's concave rim and she is made fast. From an adjoining slip Miss New York moves seaward, her propeller churning the water into a foamy whirlpool. One of these giant screws-called "wheels" in the language of ferrymen-attaches to each end of a 200-foot-long shaft. The forward propeller pulls the boat; the rear one pushes. Directly beneath these slips run the Lexington Avenue sub way tubes to Brooklyn. When engineers sank the piles, they sent technicians into the tubes with sensitive listening devices to guard against disastrous break-throughs. Puzzle: Find the commuter who forgot his paper. Ferry boat riders seated back-to-back on pewlike benches scorn sun and sea to catch up on their reading. "They really suffered during the newspaper strike last year," recalls a deck hand, "but the magazine business never had it so good." This read ing room is the bridge deck of the Verrazzano, named for the 840 Florentine navigator who discovered these waters in 1524.