The riders eye the outdoor perches first, pressing, grinding, deploying well-placed elbows, angling closer, closer to the edge that overlooks the water.
Soon there are juice boxes resting on the rail and children on their tiptoes just beneath them. Sisters clink $3.75 Bud Lights in a presunset toast. Some riders wear foam crowns of Lady Liberty, and a German tour group, decked in lederhosen, asks about the statue. It rises soon enough, dutifully obscuring the view of New Jersey.
But the Staten Island Ferry on a Saturday night is a love story first, retold every 5.2 miles with many of the same characters — a 25-minute cruise, as Gay Talese once wrote, for those with “no particular desire to reach the other side.”
Here are the high school sophomores on a chaperoned date, stealing a kiss — the gentle clack of orthodontic braces — as the adults look away.