Overspreading on transit seats ca. 1850. Contentions on the Hamilton Avenue Ferry
All was not peaceful on the new Hamilton Avenue Ferry. People, particularly in the evening, were sprawling out across the benches, and extra deckhands were hired to keep the order.
One of the directors suggested adding dividing armrests, but the Chief Engineer feared they would provoke ridicule. Overspreading to the point of lying down was such an issue that eventually the engineer gave the armrests a try. They were, according to a company publication, highly successful. So much so, that word spread nationwide, and they became common on ferry boats, and in stations and hotels.
The Hamilton Avenue Ferry was established in 1846. It was run by the Union Ferry Company, which also ran the Fulton Ferry at that time.