The Chester Bridgeport Ferry from about 1965. The ferry opened in July of 1930.
NOTE: I loved the Ferry and took it all the time to New Jersey and back. The ferry finally closed about 1974 after the Commodore Barry Bridge was built. Always a fun ride.
CHESTER – BRIDGEPORT FERRY
DEDICATED BEFORE THRONG
Hands across the river were literally clasped this morning, when approximately three thousand residents of Chester and vicinity and residents of a wide area of New Jersey across from the shore of Delaware County joined in the celebration incidental to the formal dedication of the Chester-Bridgeport ferry.
Industrial executives, religious dignitaries, business and professional leaders, farmers, produce merchants and divers others were among the throng at the Flower Street terminal who heard the city’s chief executive, Mayor Samuel E. Turner, characterize the new connecting link between Pennsylvania and New Jersey as “the happy ending of a dream of many years.”
The unwanted reputation that Chester has borne down through the ages since Penn first set foot ashore from the good ship Welcome, that of being a “dead end” city, was relegated to oblivion when the latest gateway to the shore and northern points was officially declared open.
Ideal weather prevailed for the ceremonies, which were elaborate, and complete and colorful. The smoothness and precision that marked the entire program from the time the first machine assembled in Deshong Park until the last automobile in the caravan was transported across to make a tour of nearby towns in New Jersey, was a tribute to Albert L. Gurvitz, chairman of the general program committee and officials of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, who, with the Keystone Automobile Club, mapped the plans.
Press cameramen and movie tone operators made picture records of the assemblage at the Flower Street terminal and of the decorated cavalcade as it wound its way through the city to the northern terminal of the Delaware River Ferry Company.
Automobiles, a mile in length, were lined along the streets leading to the ferry when the Rt. Rev. Francis M. Taitt, Bishop coadjutor of the Pennsylvania Episcopal Diocese opened the program with the reading of the invocation. The well-known cleric was followed by group singing of the national anthem, the multitude being accompanied by the Boys’ Band from Glen Mills School.
Following this Mayor Samuel E. Turner was introduced and said:
MAYOR TURNER’S ADDRESS – “Our purpose in gathering here today, is to celebrate the happy ending of a dream of many years. For a long time the progressive men of this city have looked across the broad waters of the Delaware and dreamed of the day when there would be established another link in our already great system of transportation, linking us to our sovereign sister State of New Jersey, rendering easier of across the great cities and coast resorts along her ocean front, and establishing another important artery for the facilitation of commerce between the two great states.
“It’s a far cry from the days of the bark covered canoe and dugout of our ancestors, especially in this era, when swift and varied means of transportation, or the lack of them, spells either prosperity or depression for communities, to the mile-a-minute express passenger and freight trains, aeroplanes, Graf Zeppelins and all the other swift means of transportation of today, and too much praise cannot be given to those ambitious men who dreamed the dream of this importation addition to our means of communication, and toiled to make it a reality.
“Transportation has for ages been recognized as the great key of progress. America’s 250,000 miles of railroads, linking the two oceans with steel bands and developing a commercial intercourse, without which we could not exist, or do business among ourselves, or with the outside world. Our rivers and lakes, our great canals, built and building and contemplated and dreamed of; all these things are what has made our country great, prosperous and powerful. Not along, either, are we in the important field of transportation developing. Centuries ago, the ancient kings of Egypt dreamed of a great canal, linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean and after years of labor and sacrificing 120,000 lives to the task, were forced to abandon it and not until many centuries afterward, in spite of the great opposition of the British government, was the project consummated and the world’s greatest artificial waterway became a reality. It is almost to laugh when we realize, that in spite of British opposition, 85% of the enormous traffic carried upon its bosom, is British.
“While New York was expending 150 million dollars upon the great Erie Canal, linking America’s greatest city with the Great Lakes, Germany was staggering the world by digging a great ditch, sixty miles long, capable of floating the biggest ships in the world, linking her great city of Hamburg with the waters of the North Sea,, at an expense of 120 million dollars. A project that would today cost three times that sum and a later day saw our own government, in the cause of world transportation, undertake and complete the greatest transportation project in the history of the world, the Panama Canal, and in the cause of national transportation, an inland canal, from Maine to the Florida Keys, and probably in the very near future, will build another between the two oceans across Nicaragua.
“I expect in my time to see the Great Lakes linked by watery bands with the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, putting our inland states in watery touch with the whole world. All these great things have been done and all this vast treasure spent to facilitate commercial intercourse among the world’s peoples.
“So far as this ferry is concerned, it may be a small link in our local system of transportation, but it is none the less important. Great things are but combinations of small things. We are accustomed, of course in these matters, to think in terms of local benefits, but I venture to prophesy that thousands from Chester’s interland will find this ferry a most convenient and short route to New Jersey’s world famed playgrounds and our city a ready market for the produce of our sister state.
“Chester is blessed with a location superb beyond comparison. A great key to progress and wealth has lain at our feet for centuries, the Delaware River. While our National and State governments are feverishly cooperating in grid-ironing he whole land with an immense system of concrete highways, reaching into every outlying hamlet and borough, furnishing new inlets and outlets to every city, including Chester, furnishing us with fresh opportunities to enlarge and facilitate commercial intercourse with all, let us not forget the importance of those great free waterways that require no millions to pave or repair and particularly Nature’s great gift to us, of this incomparable river, upon whose broad bosom we can launch our Ships of Fortune and send them forth on golden voyages, filled with the fruits of the Earth and the products of a world’s commercial genius.
“Chester’s future is secure. Her place in America’s great industrial empire is fixed. The products of her artisans are known in every corner of the earth. The Fords, the Sinclairs, the Pughs, the Vauclains, the Johnsons, and a host of others, are all aiding to keep her banner flying. The world on wheels and wings is visiting us, and no human power can now stop the tremendous forward surge of the great commercial flood tide. The monarchs of the financial world are investing their fortunes and their hopes with us and the cheery voice of the optimist rings true within the city gates.
“To you, President Gravell, and to those associated with you in this enterprise, we are sincerely grateful for this accomplishment. We believe there is sufficient physical evidence before us to warrant us in saying to you that the Delaware River Ferry Company has rendered a great service to this thriving, industrial community and the people of the State of Pennsylvania, who will find it a convenient route to the cities and resorts along the Atlantic coast. We must congratulate and thank the business interests of our city who so ably assisted to make possible the event which we are this day dedicating. The Mayor and the other city officials have done everything within their power to aid in the consummation of this mutual and beneficial linking of the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”
The mayor was followed by Albert R. Granger, president of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, a man who worked energetically to see the consummation of the project and who termed the new ferry line one of the outstanding accomplishments for the development of Chester and Delaware County.” Mr. Granger said in part:
“The dedication today of the ferry linking Chester and Delaware County with New Jersey, is the culmination and realization of the dreams and visions of men for many years, and in my judgment, it is one of the outstanding accomplishments for the development of Chester and Delaware County. It ties together the industrial section of Pennsylvania with the truck growers and shore resorts of the great State of New Jersey that cannot help but develop business of mutual interest, and not only because of quick and convenient transportation facilities offered, by the new ferry, but because of the very nature of the non-conflicting products industrial and agricultural.
“With this ferry opened only a few days, the great industries on this side of the river are quick to take advantage of the saving of time and money in transportation, and on all sides are heard nothing but praise for this venture, which has now been carried to a successful conclusion.
“New Jersey will profit by finding an outlet for its produce, the increase of realty valuations and the betterment of transportation, and Chester, likewise will profit through the increased retail business and the direct freighting of industrial products.
“From the statistics of the census just completed, Delaware County has an estimated population of 293,000 and Gloucester County of 50,000. There are registered in Delaware County 39,563 commercial and passenger cars, and in Gloucester County, 18,500.
“Chester, with its surrounding boroughs from Eddystone to Marcus Hook has a population of approximately 100,000 and it has long been felt that this great consumer market as well as one of the leading industrial and manufacturing centers was in need of increased efficiency in transportation.”
The last speaker introduced was James H. Gravell, president of the Delaware River Ferry Company, who lauded local officials and business men for their hearty cooperation in having the ferry line completed. He said:
EXECUTIVE ADDRESS – “I feel honored to have this opportunity to publicly thank Mayor Turner and his official family, Albert R. Granger and the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, Judge Davis and Oliver West of Gloucester County, N.J., for their earnest cooperation and moral support in the evolution of this ferry. Many projects of this nature have been wrecked or killed in their inception by antagonistic public officials but in our case, we had not passive acquiescence but whole-hearted encouragement and support. Such an attitude cannot help but benefit the community and be productive of such public improvements as we believe this ferry will prove.
“Chester now is no longer a dead ended city going east. The many roads converging to your city and now connected to the many roads converging to Bridgeport, thus doubling the accessibility of the city of Chester and the town of Bridgeport. The effect of this is far reaching, and is bound to have a most beneficial effect on both centers of population. Already we are receiving many letters thanking us for our part in this short cut to the shore. ‘Joe’ Sleeper, one of your well-known citizens writes that on his recent trip to the shore our new ferry saved him thirty miles and one hour and afforded him a most beautiful trip free from the worries and dangers of congested traffic. I am now able to drive from Ambler to the shore via the Chester-Bridgeport ferry in two and a quarter hours through beautiful country without becoming part of the endless parade which drags along the city streets at a pace of ten miles per hour.
“Now that the ferry is built it looks most simple but its building is quite complicated and involved. It requires the services of realtors, lawyers, nautical engineers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and draftsmen. It requires training of captains, pilots, engineers, firemen, ticket agents, ticket collectors, clerks and deck hands.
“To build up such an organization out of nothing would have been a tedious task but luckily we were able to avail ourselves of the organized force of the American Chemical Paint Company, who were skilled in construction and well suited for the undertaking under proper guidance. Then too, we were fortunate to secure the organized force of the Tacony-Palmyra Ferry, skilled in the operation of ferries.
“Much credit should be given to Harry A. Rishel, who had charge of building the ferry. He was assisted by Louis Kapelski, mechanical engineer; Harold Steinbright, electrical engineer, and Jay Biery, civil engineer. I also want to complement our board of directors and our officers, who all worked hard and were important factors to bring about a happy result. Their object was not to sell stock, nor did they deviate from their course to engage in land schemes; their whole attention was directed to building a ferry, which I understand was a novel idea as far as ferry companies here were concerned.
“Although there are many finishing touches and developments yet to be added as time goes on the ferry is now in perfect working condition and capable of giving adequate service. No expense has been spared to make the structure staunch and safe. The boats are of large capacity and are said to be the speediest ferries on the river. It only takes them about six minutes to cross.
“People of Chester, people of Bridgeport, you now have a ferry service that you can be proud of; you will find that it is a wonderful tool for promoting civic progress. Use it and profit by it.”
At the conclusion of Mr. Gravell’s address, those present sang a verse of “America,” being led by Charles Blaine, a member of the Chester Kiwanis Club.
During the exercises, the ferry boats were moored to the slip on the Pennsylvania side, traffic having been closed to the traveling public during the ceremonies.
The participants in the dedication, mostly members of the organizations affiliated with the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, the civic and service clubs of the city and representatives of the municipal and county government, were joined at the ferry by members of the Board of Navigation and the Board of Port Wardens, of which Mr. Granger is a member. The Philadelphia delegation arrived by boat shortly before the ceremonies began.
Every section of Chester and many outlying communities were represented in the decorated motorcade, which assembled in Deshong Park before making a tour of the city. Each car bore blue and gold pennants, on which the message was “Chester Welcomes You.”
Headed by the Road Patrol of the Keystone Automobile Club and under the direction of Police Sergeant Carl Busher, Mayor Turner and members of council headed the procession as it moved down Edgmont Avenue to Third Street and then west on Third to Flower Street to the ferry terminal.
At the head of the parade rode officials of the Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware River Ferry Company and a vehicle that attracted wide attention, the ambulance of the local branch of the American Red Cross, in which several uniformed nurses rode. Two bands were in the procession, the Temple Band and the musical unit from Glen Mills School.
Immediately following the dedication exercises the lane of automobiles was loaded aboard the Chester and Bridgeport and conveyed across the river, a buffet lunch being served the participants while enroute through the courtesy of President Gravell, head of the ferry company.
The route through Jersey followed through Bridgeport, Gibbstown, Paulsboro, and Pierce’s Corner to Woodbury, where W. Laurence Goucher and officials of the Woodbury Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs greeted the Chester delegation and escorted them to the Municipal Park, where an address was to be made by Mayor E. H. Rigg of Woodbury.
The president of the Woodbury, N. J., Chamber of Commerce, L. M. Goucher, will head the delegation from New Jersey and will be joined by State Highway Commissioner Firman M. Reeves of Millville, and Senator Francis B. Davis, representing the State; Dr. J. Harris Underwood, president of the Woodbury Kiwanis, and other members of his club; Councilman George P. Robins, who is also banding on arrival on this side of the river.
Ferry officials and officers of the Chamber of Commerce were thoroughly pleased with the manner in which the affair was attended and the program carried out.
Charles E. Riddell and William F. Delehanty, aided by Mr. Gurvitz, the general chairman and Howard Gallagher, live wire official of the Keystone Automobile Club, worked indefatigably to make the occasion the success it was and were deserving of the praise heaped upon them by the hundreds of participants, who helped make it the red letter event the dedication of the new city asset proved to be.