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Leaden skies cover my sixth boro today, a dour sign leading me to the Gmelin collection and the grim discovery that well over a third of the photos of shipping represented in his photos from the 1930s by a decade later were sunk or scuttled as fanaticism drew the world into war.  Take this photo taken in 1931.  To situate the photo in the sixth boro, note the Stevens Mansion–demolished in 1959– just above the stern of the ship.  Nerissa was launched in Scotland in 1926, ran between NYC–St. Johns NF until 1931, when she ran between NYC and the Caribbean.  Her end came in 1941, when she was torpedoed off Ireland by U-552, on her 40th crossing with mostly Canadian troops from Halifax to Europe.  The number of souls lost was 207.

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Here’s another victim, Empress of Britain taken in 1932.  You can see the Empire State Building less than a year “topped-out” at this time. Empress of Britain made its first crossing from Southampton to Quebec City in spring 1931.  Here she was likely completing her first visit to the sixth boro, headed for Southampton to complete her first trip around the world. In November 1939 she was requisitioned as troop transport.  Less than a year later she too was sunk by a combination of a German bomber and U-boat.    She was the largest Canadian-owned merchant vessel lost in WW2;  beyond that, she was the largest ship sunk by a WW2 submarine.  For others, click here.

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I’ll be looking for sunshine in the next days and longer.

I’m surprised I’ve not heard this be called DUBQEG, “down under Brooklyn-Queens Expressway of Gowanus” a la DUMBO.

I was here last week waiting for … and when the twin bascules of the Hamilton Street Bridge, I thought it was someone else, but

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I was equally pleased to see Sarah Ann–previously June K–arrive to exchange scrap scows,

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exchanging the light 141 for the loaded 136.

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Two things that really impressed me were (1. the intensity of multi-modal traffic at this location and

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(2. the gentleness with which the Sarah Ann crew negotiated her 2700 hp in such confined space.

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And yes that is a Coney Island bound F train approaching the Smith-Ninth Street Station, the highest subway stop in the system, one from which you can see the Statue.

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Scrapping needs to happen somewhere in the city,

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and it continues to be one aspect of marine commerce in Gowanus.

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Bravo to the Sarah Ann crew for their impressive work.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

I have many more Gmelin photos, but as an indication that I still inhabit the present-day sixth boro, I’ll show some sign of life for a few days.

For outatowners, Gowanus Creek (now Canal) is one of the most polluted waterways in the US, which is no secret to locals.  By the way, Gowanus rhymes with “you want us” with a silent “t.”

I took this photo this week just upstream of the 9th Street Bridge.  In fact, when a man swam down the Canal last year, he wore some serious hazmat protection, as the Media Boat shows here.

What I was not aware of is how much effort is going into addressing the accumulated pollution of more than a century.

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This barge holds several excavators at work in the Fourth Street Turning Basin, one of the dead ends in the Canal.

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As needed, the barge is moved by this small tug/pushboat that might be called 1337E.

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Besides black goop that I might photograph next time, wood and other detritus is being plucked from the bottom.

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Gowanus, there’s hope.  I’ll be back.

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Click here and here for some posts I did when I last visited the Canal . . . in 2011 and 2013.

As to connections between the Gowanus area of Brooklyn and the Erie Canal, click here.  For a photo of the Gowanus Bay New York State Canal Freight Terminal, click here and scroll to p. 22.

It appears I’ve not put up a batch of photos of this handy floating fuel station since here, but I’ll have to check the archives later today.  For now, these are photos of Chandra B and her hard-working crew I took last week.  Know the location?

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The two buildings through-lit by sunrise are Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue and Gehry’s IAC Building.

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And in the recesses along Chelsea Piers, Chandra B is well into its workday as the sun rises.  Here she tops off Utopia III.

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Chandra B‘s crew is ready for lunch before most people have breakfast.

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Click here for some of my Chandra B photos from Professional Mariner magazine.

 

Here’s the series that this follows, a series that shows how busy this craneship still is at certain times of the year.  Of course, this could also be called what do you do with an obsolete New York City ferry, a vessel delivered by Electric Boat on October 14, 1929 and replaced by a bridge in fewer than 10 years.

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Yes, this is the bow of the craneship, and until I spent a day on board last fall, I assumed the bow wheel was non-functioning if even present.

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Excuse the rain spot.

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Closeups of bow and

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stern.

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Here’s a shot from the deck of Wards Island from the incredible warm late November day last year when we pulled a day’s worth of buoys from Oneida Lake, and at the

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end of the day, getting a glimpse of the builders plate in the engine compartment.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Palabora . . . she’s got LEGS!!!  Italian legs.  … Lei ha le gambe!   gambe that will stand astride that harbor and be noticed, cartwheeling on the shore as traffic goes in and out of the Kills, and

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the legs of Bartholdi’s lady will be forever modestly covered.  So why are they made in Pescara on the Adriatic, and not in an American steel mill?  When you break it down, some parts are from Canada, Holland, Germany . . . .  I have no problem with this fact, but I think it should be noted as such.

Thanks to New York Media Boat for the photo.

Here are previous iterations of this title.

 

 

Of course, there are little known gunkholes in the backwaters of the sixth boro where fossils–living and inert–float.  This one is off an inlet behind one island and concealed by another, a place easily missed, and if seen, it gives the impression of being off limits by land and too shallow by water, near the deadly bayou of Bloomfield.  But with the right conveyance and attitude, it’s feasible if you’re willing to probe.  And the fossils have names like . . .

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Caitlin Rose.  I don’t know much, but built in Savannah GA in 1956?  Relentless.  She’s before my time here, but I suppose she’s the one built in Port Arthur TX in 1950.

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I can’t make out all of the words here.

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Ticonderoga is obviously playing possum. Only a month ago she doe-see-doed into the Kills with the ex-Pleon, the blue tug behind her,

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a Jakobson from 1953.

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Dauntless .. . built in Jakobson & Peterson of Brooklyn in 1936, was once Martha Moran.

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From right to left here, Mike Azzolino was built for the USCG at Ira S. Bushey & Sons and commissioned as WYTM-72 Yankton in 1944.  Moving to the left, it’s Charles Oxman . . .

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was built by Pusey & Jones in 1940 and originally called H. S. Falk., and looked like this below, which explains the unusual wheelhouse today.  She seems to have come out of that same search for new direction as David, from a post here a year ago.

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The photo above I took from this tribute page. 

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The small tug off Oxman‘s starboard, i don’t know.

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The low slung tug that dominates the photo here is Erica, and beyond here is a Crow.

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Someone help me out here?

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And as far into this gunkhole as I dared to venture . . .  this one is nameless.

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Oh the stories that could be told here!  I hope someone can and will.  Balladeers like Gordon Lightfoot could memorialize these wrecks in a song like “Ghosts of Cape Horn,” which inspired a tugster post here years ago.  And looking at the last photo in that old post, I see Wavertree, which leads me to this art- and detail-rich site I don’t recall having seen before.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

Who else greeted Wavertree on the rest of the way home?  John J. Harvey is always in on celebrations.

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Lettie G. Howard was there,

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as was the helicopter.  Feehan presented herself on the far side of Rae.

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Pioneer accounted for

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herself with crew in the crosstrees.

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Pioneer and Lettie teamed up at times.

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Wire showed up.

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New York Harbor School had two boats there, including Privateer and their

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newest vessel Virginia Maitland Sachs, about which I’ll post soon.

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Melvillian throngs came down to the “extremest limit of land” on Pier 15 and 16, for one reason or another, but who were about to be treated to some excellent ship handling.

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Rae took the lead, showing the need for tugboats of all sizes.

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The larger tugs pushed and pulled as needed to ease into the slip

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until all lines were fast and

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and the shoreside work needed doing.

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Bravo to all involved.  If you want to take part in a toast to Wavertree, you can buy tickets here for the September 29 evening.

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If you haven’t read the NYTimes article by James Barron yet, click here.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp, who hopes I left no one out and who as before is grateful to the South Street Seaport Museum and the photographers’ boat provided by US Merchant Marine Academy and crewed by a set of dedicated cadets.

Often folks ask how one can learn about the harbor or is there a book about the sixth boro.  Volunteering at South Street Seaport Museum is a great way available to all to get access to the water, to learn from like-minded folks, and to start on a journey of reading the harbor and its traffic for yourself.  Each volunteer’s journey will be unique, and willing hands make institutions like this museum survive and thrive.

Almost exactly 16 months ago, Wavertree left Pier 16 for a lot of work at Caddell Dry Dock.    Here was my set of photos from that day, and here,  subsequent ones at several month intervals.  Yesterday she made way, back to Pier 16.

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Here’s looking back west.  Compare the photo below with the third one here to see how much work has been accomplished on the Bayonne Bridge during the same 16 months.

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Yesterday, Rae helped, as did

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Dorothy J and Robert IV.

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The combined age of Rae, Robert IV, and Dorothy J is 139 years, whereas the beautifully restored flagship they escorted in is 131 years old.

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And as the tow approached the Statue, John J. Harvey joined in.

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These photos all by Will Van Dorp, who is grateful to the South Street Seaport Museum and the photographers’ boat provided by US Merchant Marine Academy and crewed by a set of dedicated cadets.

For some interesting history on Wavertree and info on a fundraiser on board on September 29, 2016, click here.  For the story of how Wavertree came from Argentina to New York, read Peter & Norma Stanford’s A Dream of Tall Ships, which I reviewed here some time ago.

More photos of the return tomorrow.

Today’s a good day to return to this series I had going for a few years and now return to.  More Chrononauts in the next few days…

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But first, this vessel bringing in my favorite celebratory drink.

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The fabulous September weather has allowed this project to rush to completion.  Remember, tomorrow

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in early afternoon she goes on a towline back to South Street Seaport through a portion of the sixth boro of this city made great thanks to shipping work and capital.  You can watch from along the KVK, from the Battery, or from South Street Seaport Museum.

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The name paint is on the list of about a thousand “last” things to do before departure.

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Also, enjoying the spectacular equinox weather, the crewman who becomes almost invisible in the bow

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of this 1100′ box ship,  

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tethered to James D. Moran.

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More on Peking as she gets prepared for her home-going.  Doesn’t this look like a shipyard for the ages?

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All photos taken yesterday by Will Van Dorp.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.

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