South Ferry is at the southern tip of Manhattan in New York City and is the embarkation point for ferries to Staten Island (Staten Island Ferry, through the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal) and Governors Island. Battery Park, abutting South Ferry on the west, has docking areas for ferries to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Its name is derived from an historical ferry company which provided service to Brooklyn, run by the South Ferry Company.
The name "South Ferry" derives from a service to an area known as "South Brooklyn," rather than from being at the southern tip of Manhattan, as it was the name of one of the ferries between what were then the separate cities of New York and Brooklyn.
The "Old Ferry" (later renamed the Fulton Ferry), crossed between Manhattan and Brooklyn from streets that in each city would eventually be renamed "Fulton Street". The "New Ferry" crossed further east, between Catherine Street in Manhattan, and Main Street in Brooklyn.
As the City of Brooklyn grew, the area south of Atlantic Avenue, known as South Brooklyn, began to become developed, but the area lacked easy access to the ferry terminals in the northern parts of that city. To solve this problem, the South Ferry Company established the South Ferry on May 16, 1836 to connect Lower Manhattan to the foot of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and the month-old Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad (renamed Atlantic Avenue Railroad, later the Atlantic Avenue Railroad's streetcar line, later still part of the South Side Railroad of Long Island, now the Atlantic Branch of the Long Island Rail Road) through the Cobble Hill Tunnel. "South Ferry" was also the name of the Brooklyn landing and ferry house. In the 20th and early 21st centuries, the Brooklyn landing site served cargo as Brooklyn Piers 5 and 6, now part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
South Ferry is served by several New York City Subway stations.
Also serving the ferry terminal directly is the M15 Select Bus Service route via a bus loop directly at the front door of the terminal; other bus routes, such as the M9, M15, M20, and M55, stop on nearby streets.
In earlier years, South Ferry also hosted a four-track elevated terminal with access to all Manhattan elevated train lines running up Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth Avenues. These lines were closed in stages from 1938 to 1955.