The History of the Ferryboat Mary Murray: The Staten Island Ferry That Became a NJ Turnpike Landmark

David Moskowitz


The Mary Murray ferry was launched in 1937 on Staten Island, NY and would end her storied career seventy-three years later beached and rotting away in East Brunswick, NJ. For thirty-seven years, she plied the waters between Manhattan and Staten Island, NY as part of the Staten Island Ferry system. She was funded by the New Deal during the Depression and was the first New York City ferry named after a woman. Her namesake was Mary Murray, a patriot-heroine during the Revolutionary War. The Mary Murray was purchased at an auction in 1976 by George Searle, a Merchant Mariner with his own storied past who towed the ferry up the Raritan River to NJ with plans to convert it into a floating restaurant. It would remain there for the next thirty-four years until ultimately being scrapped, visible from the NJ Turnpike just north of Exit 9.  Despite never achieving a second useful life, the Mary Murray would become a NJ cultural landmark and arguably NJ’s most famous ferry.  

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