In his State of the City address today, Mayor De Blasio announced a city-wide ferry network serving the Lower East Side and vowed to provide 1,500 units of affordable housing to artists and musicians.

The city-run ferry service will launch in 2017 and will be priced the same as a MetroCard, De Blasio announced. The move is meant to ease the burden of commuting for residents of under-served neighborhoods like the Rockaways, Red Hook and Soundview, for whom “a job in Manhattan can easily mean an hour or more of commuting, even when the skyline is clearly visible from your home,” De Blasio said. “You can actually see opportunities in that borough, but practically speaking, it’s very, very far away.”

In a statement, State Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents the Lower East Side, applauded De Blasio for choosing Grand Street as one of the ferry stops.

A 2013 study conducted by the city’s Economic Development Corporation pointed to the incoming Essex Crossing development as a reason for the Lower East Side stop. Though the report admitted that the development will be in an area already serviced by buses and subways, and will be a good ten-minute walk to the waterfront, the study also concluded that “it is possible that the increased density planned for the area could help to support ferry service.” The EDC estimated that building a new ferry landing at Grand Street — including demolition, installation of gangways, construction of passenger shelters, and environmental mitigation — would cost $5.84 million.

In a letter sent to the EDC in October of 2014, Squadron wrote that “a Grand Street stop would provide transportation access to a growing waterfront community as well as thousands of public housing residents that are historically transit-underserved. The stop would expand limited transit infrastructure in the area while providing access to local Citi Bike terminals, the M14, and the M21.”

A service map posted by DNAinfo and embedded below shows the Grand Street stop connecting to East 23rd Street, East 34th Street (with East River Ferry service to Long Island City and then points in Greenpoint and Williamsburg) and Wall Street Pier 11 (with East River Ferry service to Dumbo and then points in Greenpoint and Williamsburg). The Grand Street service is expected to begin in 2018, DNAinfo reports.

In a statement today, Squadron said that the new Lower East Side service “will expand access to our growing Harbor Park, a Central Park for the center of our city, from Pier 42 on the Lower East Side to Brooklyn Bridge Park and beyond.”

The ferry will also connect the Rockaways to Pier 11 and Brooklyn Army Terminal for the first time since a post-Sandy ferry ceased service last fall amidst .

Elsewhere during his State of the City speech, De Blasio threw a bone to the starving artists who built New York’s reputation as a cultural capital. “For all those generations of artistic visionaries,” he said, “we want to do something different now. We’ll provide 1,500 units of affordable live/work housing for the artists and musicians who make New York City such a great and vibrant place, as well as 500 dedicated affordable workspaces for the cultural community.”

“These folks bring joy to us every day; they inspire our young people,” the mayor said. “They show our young people that you can pursue talents, whichever talent moves you, whichever talent you have, regardless of whether it comes with a necessary big payoff at the end of the day or a big paycheck. It shows our young people to hope and believe and strive. And on a practical note these artists, musicians, the whole cultural community — they also help make our city a mecca for tourists.”

During much of his speech, De Blasio focused on his old trope, the “Tale of Two Cities.” A scan of his prepared remarks, which can be found online, revealed 43 instances of the word “afford,” in some version.

De Blasio also addressed the escalating issue of landlord harassment by announcing that tenants living within areas that have been rezoned by the city will be given no-cost legal representation if they can show evidence that they’re being unfairly targeted by their landlord. “Protecting our tenants – through whatever means necessary – isn’t just the moral thing to do,” De Blasio said. “It’s a critical step in making New York City a more affordable place for everyone.”