Greeter Ray Marquez is a virtual fountain of Staten Island knowledge. He took a group of Greeters on the Staten Island Ferry to the borough he’s called home for over 22 years.
When we met at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, Ray reeled off a slew of facts: the terminal opened in 2004, the ferry transports 60,000 people a day, and it’s free! There are ten different ferries, the largest holds 6000 passengers, the smallest 1280.
As the ferry glided toward Staten Island, our panorama was filled with American Icons. We saw Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty, a generous gift from France in 1886, and Ellis Island, the immigration station where millions of newcomers first entered America. Ray also pointed out un-iconic sites, such as The Teardrop of Grief, a small brown tower which is a 9/11 Memorial for Bayonne, New Jersey.
When we landed after our 25-minute ride, our first stop was Lenny’s Creations, warehouse of the amazingly talented sculptor Lenny Prince. Lenny’s sculptures are made entirely from metal scraps of cars.
An auto mechanic with a love for cars, Lenny began creating his colorful art four years ago. We saw everything from fierce 10-foot transformers, to an elegant Michael Jackson, to the Staten Island Ferry and a playful praying mantis.
Call 718-759-7344 for private or group tours or go to his website for an enticing sneak peek. http://www.lennyscreation.com
Our next stop was Borough Hall which has a 1930’s marble lobby and thirteen murals depicting events in Staten Island history. At the National Lighthouse Museum, we were stunned by the Wall of Lights: one of the country’s largest collections of miniature lighthouses – 56 in total. We walked to the newly renovated St. George Theatre, built in 1929. Architecturally elaborate in the Spanish and Italian Baroque styles, today it offers concerts by popular artists, old films and plays.
Ray was like a proud poppa showing us his borough. His pride extended to practical matters as well: “Where else can you get a reasonably priced two-bedroom apartment in a really nice New York neighborhood!”