April 4, 2013 — South Ferry Loop Reopens: During Superstorm Sandy the new South Ferry stub-end station was so badly damaged that restoration at that station is a three year process. To restore service to Staten Island Ferry Riders the MTA reopened this loop station on a temporary basis until the stub-end station can be rebuilt. For the reopening of the station the MTA built a small passageway at the front end of the platform that has simple white with pink lined tiled walls that leads to a short passageway down a few steps to the mezzanine of the new station. Here passengers can transfer to the R train from the loop station for the first time. The original entrance also reopened with staircases leading directly up to turnstiles situated on the street with no token booth or TVMs (these would be directly outside) leading out to a hard to find pathway at the rear of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal (facing the opposite direction of the previous configuration when the station originally closed directly into the ferry terminal). Conductors are announcing first five cars only for South Ferry once again.
The abandoned from March 16, 2009 to April 3, 2013 South Ferry Loop Station opened on July 10, 1905 for trains from Lexington Avenue and was long time terminus of the 1 train, the IRT Broadway-7 Avenue Local and could only platform 5 cars. Announcements were made on all trains about this shortcoming the closer you got to South Ferry and trains were often held in the station at Chambers Street giving passengers time to walk down the platform to be in one of the first five cars of the train (it and Rector Street also had signs directing passengers to those cars). 145 Street-Lenox Avenue (on the 3 train) is the only station to still have this shortcoming.
The infrastructure and station still exists, it is just closed to passenger service. There are actually two loops: an inner loop used by #5 trains still to this day when they terminate at Bowling Green (currently weekends only), trains stopped stopping at this loops even tighter platforms when shuttle service to Bowling Green was discontinued at midnight the night of February 12, 1977. This platform is so tight that only the center doors of shuttle trains could open so it used special cars that lined up with narrow openings in the platform that was otherwise isolated from its tracks by palls.
The loop that saw service for much longer, being opened for almost 103 years (it lost one other when the 1 train had to be rebuilt through Ground Zero after 9/11), (and could also serve Lexington Avenue Line trains which it did during off hours when mainline trains turned there so the shuttle did not need to be run) was the slightly less tight outer loop used by the first five cars of #1 Broadway-7 Avenue local trains to terminate their. It still required large gab fillers so trains could platform and they squealed from the curves as they entered the station. Trains had to come to a complete stop before the gab fillers could be extended and chains exist along the areas where doors do not line up (and extend with them) the gap is that bad to require prevent people from falling through it. There are two places left with gap fillers: the downtown platform of Union Square and Track 1 and 3 on the 42 Street Shuttle at Times Square, but these are less intense. At Union Square trains basically push the gab fillers out of the way as they leave, at South Ferry trains had to wait for them to retract.
The platform itself has wonderful terra-cotta reliefs of a sailboat with SF written just beneath. Along the platform between them was a bronze looking trimline relief. There were also some mosaic South Ferry name tablets, white text on maroon with a pink boarder around everything. To exit the station two short staircases become one (with a booth in between to handle to gab fillers and tower operations) and lead directly into a fare control area on the north side of the new Staten Island Ferry Terminal with a large bank of turnstiles and doors straight out to the north side (with non standard exit signs) or right into the terminal next to the staircases and escalators up to the waiting area for boats. This arrangement existed for only 4 years, the new ferry terminal was only opened in 2005. Before that there was a temporary silver station house with a trailer to one side that replaced an older station house at street level that burned down in the 1990s.
October 30, 2012: The old station flooded during Hurricane Sandy, the MTA released some photos of the flooding at the old loop station to their Flickr account: Photo 1|2|3
Arts For Transit at the South Ferry Loop Station
South Sails, 1990
By Sandra Bloodworth
Old Station Banner