Discussions about an Evanston marina continue to swirl*. If we ever develop one, should we also consider an Evanston-based ferry service? Something that might take passengers to and from Evanston (and most importantly, bring visitor$ to our lovely town)?
I just returned from a trip to Mackinac Island, a place reached only by public ferry services or private vessels. I hadn’t even thought about ferry boats in Evanston until the drive back home, when I drove through Muskegon, Michigan, and noticed some of the town’s similarities to Evanston. Muskegon and Evanston are both…
…cities ending in the letters “ON”.
…towns with a McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC at a central, busy corner.
…towns with nicknames: Muskegon goes by “Skeetown” and Evanston's known as “E-town”.
…served by Comcast Cable.
Evanston doesn’t boast an amusement park or a prison like Muskegon (and for that I'm thankful), but I do envy the town's bustling ferry service. According to Wikipedia, the Lakeside shopping district of Muskegon
“...is home to the Lake Express, a ferry that crosses Lake Michigan to and from Wisconsin, and currently the center of tourist based retail shopping. Lakeside features "wonderful attractions" such as an art gallery, candy store, and the Harbor movie theater. It also features restaurants which give people a feel for the local color and flavor that makes Lakeside a distinct area of the city. The area, together with the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, is considered by many to be the 'spiritual heart' of Muskegon and has long been home to many of the city's leading residents and businesses.”
Per the 2000 U.S. Census (as reported by Wikipedia), here’s a snapshot of our two cities, just for perspective:
Miles of land
Miles of water
Median HH income
Median Family Income
Per Cap. Income
% Pop. Below Poverty Line
Would a ferry service add to our city’s carbon footprint? In some ways, yes, because we’d have to build it out, possibly dredge the area for docking, and so on. However, in many other ways, it’s a chance for travelers to avoid pollutants; they’d avoid taking their cars to the long way to their travel destinations – or avoid using their cars on vacation altogether. In fact, some ferry services compete to be as green as possible. Once here, visitors would discover that Evanston’s a truly walkable town. We’ve got hotels and restaurants and shopping galore.
Here’s a visual (and schedule) for the ferry between Muskegon and Milwaukee. Here’s another ferry that travels from Luddington, MI to Manitowoc, WI. This commercial for the S.S. Badger highlights all that Michigan has to offer, like beautiful sunsets, picturesque lighthouses. As you can see, folks in these towns examined their cities’ strengths and found ways to bring in visitors. Shouldn’t we consider doing the same?