Williamsburg’s Water Taxi Signals New Era
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Williamsburg’s tenure as “the new East Village” may have ended yesterday morning when the new ferry port at Schaefer Landing sent its first bright yellow Water Taxi on its way to Wall Street.
Not so long ago, Williamsburg was considered a hip new frontier for Brooklyn’s artists, writers, and musicians.The arrival of the Water Taxi — with its grandmotherly onboard offerings of cookies and hot chocolate — suggests that the wealthy financiers, consultants, and entrepreneurs who have recently made their nests along the waterfront are there to stay.
“It seems fitting for that strange little corner of Williamsburg,” the author of “The Hipster Handbook” and the culturally inclined “FreeWilliamsburg” Web log, Robert Lanham, said. “There’s a cigar bar over there. It seems fitting that they have their own little elite taxi shuttle in the city.”
Strange though the Water Taxi may be, Mr. Lanham said he is happy to see Williamsburg changing.
Naturally, the suited newcomers whose morning commutes to the financial district from the Schaefer Landing condominiums will now take only eight minutes are happy as well. Until yesterday, the famously overcrowded L train at Bedford Avenue provided the only public transportation route into the city from Williamsburg. Now, commuters will be able to catch hourly Water Taxis for $5 on weekday mornings between 6:23 a.m. and 9:23 a.m., and again between 4:35 p.m. and 7:49 p.m. On weekends, the ferry will run hourly between 11:08 a.m. and 6:36 p.m.
“It’s going to provide a quick transportation into Manhattan, and it’ll therefore make the area more desirable,” said Helene Luchnick, the executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman who proudly claims to have kicked off Williamsburg’s development boom four and a half years ago. “In the two towers at Schaefer Landing, the monitor in the elevator will show the taxi schedule.”
Ms. Luchnick said she sees Williamsburg heading in the same direction as Dumbo and Soho, both neighborhoods which started seedy, turned artsy, and developed eventually into prime real estate for wealthy professionals. “There are still artsy types living in Williamsburg, but they’re not the ones buying into the new condominiums,” Ms. Luchnick said. “Every site up through Greenpoint has been sold for towers.”
Travis Noyes, New York Water Taxi’s Vice President for Sales and Marketing, was reluctant to make a judgment about what the new ferry station meant for the neighborhood’s demographic. The boats go to Wall Street, he said, because “that’s where the docks are.”