Some records show 1813 as the start date of the Broadway-Locust Point ferry, a popular service that carried hundreds of passengers a day until the rise of streetcars and automobiles drove it out of business in the late 1930s.

The "Smoky Joe," a privately-operated ferry boat that carried passengers to Love Point, operated for 16 years, until 1947, when the operation was determined to be too expensive.

Still, smaller water taxis continued to operate, transporting passengers and crew members to and from steamers anchored in the harbor or delivering messages to ship captains. One Baltimore Sun headline from 1946 read, "Taximen of the Harbor Fatten in Port's Boom."

In the 1970s, then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer approached Ed Kane, who was renting sailboats, paddleboats and rowboats where the National Aquarium is today, and asked him about starting a water taxi service.

Kane did, despite fearing that Schaefer's plan for a taxi between the Maryland Science Center and his paddleboat dock would fall flat. In 1981, Schaefer arrived to dedicate the new aquarium via water taxi.

Kane died in 2003, and McDaniel acquired the Baltimore Water Taxi company in 2010.

Both McDaniel and Robinson said they are aware the city's free Harbor Connector services present competition for Baltimore Water Taxi's other routes, but both are confident in their partnership and in the long-term viability of water taxis in Baltimore.

Nicole Doenges, 26, of Canton said she relies on the service and would consider moving if it ended.

Doenges, who works as a graphic designer of footwear for Under Armour, said she takes the taxi from Canton waterfront to Tide Point every day, both directions — just like many of her co-workers.

"There's really not even a bus option to Tide Point, so if you live over here, you either drive, bike around the harbor, or take" the water taxi, she said.

Her friends and family think the fact she takes a boat to work each day is a bit of Baltimore charm, she said.

"It's a fun little thing to tell people you do in Baltimore," she said.

Baltimore Sun research librarian Paul M. McCardell contributed to this article.

krector@baltsun.com

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