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The Story of New York's First Commuter

Sam Roberts tells the story of commuting in New York City, starting from the very beginning, the maiden voyage of the first ferry from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
January 1, 2015, 5am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The article by Sam Roberts is a thorough and excellent examination of how significant moments in history can have large influence on the day-to-day lives of millions. A few highlights from the article, to provide an overview, with a lot more detail available in the full article:

  • "This much is known about the maiden voyage of the Nassau: The twin-hulled boat carried 549 passengers, one wagon and three horses. It was captained by Peter Coffee, who would remain with the company that operated the vessel for 50 years."
  • "What is unknown is the name of the first passenger — the man (and chances are it was a man) who on May 10, 1814, boarded the Nassau, the first regularly scheduled steam-powered ferry from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Whoever he was, he can justly be called America’s first commuter."
  • "In 1814, when 'The Star-Spangled Banner' was written and the steam locomotive was introduced, Brooklyn was still a town. It was incorporated as a village, population 2,000, two years later, and officially became a city in 1834."
  • "Today, two centuries after the first ferry left Brooklyn, New Yorkers have not stopped complaining. More than ever, though, they are commuting — and, lately, more and more by ferry."
Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 in New York Times
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