Friday, July 1, 2011

LOCAL: Victory and Failure on the East River

Two great experiments on the East River are showing mixed results.

First up, the East River Ferry (previously here). Update:

City officials are happy as clams with a new East River commuter ferry, which more than 9,800 people boarded in its first three days of paid service.

“I would call this a roaring success,” said Economic Development Chairman Seth Pinsky, whose agency is administering the service.

New York Waterway signed a three-year $9.3-million contract with the city earlier this year and launched its expanded ferry route this month, picking up waterfront commuters in DUMBO, Williamsburg, Greenpoint before dropping them off at Wall Street and Midtown.

Although I think the service could be improved -- a 14th street stop and integration into the MTA service would be ideal -- I do think it improves the city, and it's a nice ride. Well, not too nice.

Second, the Smorgasburg food fair on the river:

Since opening in May, Brooklyn Flea’s weekly Smorgasburg has been a hit — but not for the farmers who have set up the greenmarket on the banks of the East River every Saturday.

“Most people are coming to the Smorgasburg to snack and have a good time,” said David Sherman, the greenmarket’s manager. “Not many are coming with canvas bags to do their grocery shopping. It’s hard to compete with a kimchee hot dog.”

I was there myself, and I have to admit, I came to have a great sandwich that I could walk onto the pier with while chatting with friends. I didn't come to buy any Anarchy in a Jar. I'm not a particular foodie, though -- my cooking skills are actually getting worse, by my reckoning.

Still, I do think it would be a shame if it slowly morphed into just another vendor fair like the kind of crappy ones that spring up in Manhattan from time to time.