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Exactly six years ago I heard a reawakening Peking . . as I wrote here, I felt a pulse, heard a breath. A warm flow began to within that shell too cold and too long. . . Peking in the Upper Bay was calling on buoyancy it once had here south of South America. I allowed myself to feel a little hope. Possibly this trip to the dry dock would be a preliminary to a miraculous rebirth.
But too much time has passed again . . . momentum has dissipated. Undercurrents in this article suggest the end is starting to be acknowledged.
but IMHO, this is alright. Mortality stalks all of us. So here’s my proposal: let those who hold her destiny organize a decommissioning, a wake. She arrived–I imagine–with some fanfare if not an official commissioning for her imagined new role in 1975 . . . first at the Narrows here and then–in November 1975, according to A Dream of Tall Ships–from the shipyard up to the East River. How about a party now . . . as then. And then . . reef her, ceremoniously.
Opinions are entirely my own.
First, if you’re free today and within travel distance of Lower Manhattan, do yourself a favor and attend this event, 4 p. m., a book signing by Dr. James M. Lindgren. His new book is a much needed complement to Peter Stanford’s A Dream of Tall Ships, reviewed here a few months ago. Details in Preserving South Street Seaport cover almost a half century and will enthrall anyone who’s ever volunteered at, donated to, been employed by, or attended any events of South Street Seaport Museum. Lindgren laments SSSM’s absence of institutional memory saying, “Discontinuity instead defined the Seaport’s administration.” Amen . . as a volunteer I wanted to know the historical context for what seemed to me to be museum administrations’ repeated squandering of hope despite herculean efforts on the part of volunteers and staff I knew.
As my contribution to creation of memory, I offer these photos and I’d ask again for some pooling of photos about the myriad efforts of this museum over the years.
Pier 17. April 17, 2014. According to Lindgren, this mall opened on Sept 11, 1985 with a fireworks show. Its demise may by this week’s end be complete.
April 12, 2014. Photo by Justin Zizes.
Feb 23, 2014.
Jan 21, 2014 . . . Lettie G. Howard returns.
Sept 20, 2013. This is the last photo I ever took FROM the upper balcony of Pier 17.
Sept 12, 2013.
July 2012. A fire had broken out on the pier, and Shark was the first on scene responder. Damage was minimal, despite appearances here.
Now for some photos of vessels that have docked in the South Street area in the past half century.
July 2012 . . . Helen McAllister departs, assisted by W. O. Decker and McAllister Responder.
June 2012. Departure of Marion M as seen from house of W. O. Decker. Photo by Jonathan Boulware. The last I knew, Marion M is being restored on the Chesapeake by a former SSSM volunteer.
Lettie G. Howard hauled out in 2009.
2009. The Floating Hospital . . . was never part of the SSSM collection.
2009. Maj. Gen. Hart aka John A. Lynch aka Harlem.
Helen McAllister with Peking and Wavertree. Portion of bow of Marion M along Helen‘s starboard.
Mathilda posing with W. O. Decker in Kingston. 2009.
Moshulu now in Philadelphia.
2005, I believe. Spuyten Duyvil (not a SSSM vessel) and Pioneer.
Thanks to Justin and Jonathan for use of their photos. All others by Will Van Dorp. For many stories on these vessels, that mall, and so much more, pick up or download these books and read them asap.
Between spring 2004 and summer 2007, I volunteered about 1000 hours at South Street Seaport Museum, or SSSM, mostly on Pioneer but also on W. O. Decker and Lettie G. Howard. The experience was exhilarating—learning the lingo of schooner sailing and the lines and procedures, rustbusting and painting, all good for maintaining youthfulness and toning up aging muscle. Without my time at SSSM, there might never have been this blog called tugster about a place I imagine as the sixth (and primary) boro.
What pulled me away from volunteering was my sprouting curiosity about all the other vessels and projects and careers in the harbor with more tugboats than I could recall without the assistance of my camera. Downloading my photos after a day’s sail would lead to a night’s worth of googling, to learn what I could about the boats, companies, cargoes, and ultimately the crews. Volunteering there felt focused too exclusively on SSSM and their vessels’ tracks from Pier 16 back to Pier 16. This frustration should not have surprised me, given my lifelong wanderlust and curiosity.
SSSM has stayed with me though. One sweet memory I carry of SSSM is of the stories I heard as a volunteer about the time of creation, creation of the museum, that is. But these stories came in fragments, and the gaps between have triggered lots more questions. The more I heard, the less I felt I knew. A Dream of Tall Ships, covering the time period from 1967 until 1974 in 500 pages, is like a vessel loaded deep with memories filtered through the recollections of Peter and Norma Stanford, founders of SSSM. The account is detailed and peopled with legends from a half century ago, a time when nautical giants were feeling the urge to preserve what remained of commercial sail, both coastwise and global. People like Alan Villiers and Karl Kortum, “ship savers” who inhabit this book, strike me as optimists who could imagine second (or “new”) lives for these old vessels built a century or more before. The Stanfords recall their travels to places like Punta Arenas and the old port of Buenos Aires to purchase Wavertree, one of the tall ships that seem in hibernation down at SSSM today. The photo below–taken from among the over 60 images in the the book, shows Wavertree in the condition SSSM acquired her.
The book describes a time in the history of SSSM and New York City when it seemed that only the brightest future could lie ahead. When SSSM sponsored an event, the most powerful, brightest, wealthiest, and most generous of the city rolled up their sleeves and weighed in. In a timeline of SSSM events in the postscript pages of the book, names appearing include Jack Kaplan, Brooke Astor, as well as Laurance and David Rockefeller. Then there are giants like Pete Seeger and Burl Ives. At a January 5, 1968 meeting at the Whitehall Club to launch SSSM’s James Monroe Luncheons, the pantheon of New York’s maritime industry showed up to listen to ocean historian Robert G. Albion speak. NY political elite like Mayor Lindsay were there, as was the famed naval architect Howard Chapelle.
Real estate struggles existed already back at the creation, but it seemed manifest that SSSM would grow into a premier maritime institution, center of the New York State Maritime Museum, and more. Stanford documents the growing membership. New York was heady with the growing fleet of tall ships and other interesting vessels. Exciting happenings like Sea Day seemed to spread a love of the city’s connection with the sea, an event that predates “City of Water” day.
But don’t take my word for all the memories in this book. I hope enough of you read this book—skim quickly through the too-long segments about martinis and such– and maybe if enough of us start to glow again with embers long ignored, maybe new energies will again start up the dream to make SSSM a street of tall ships that will inspire seafarers of the future.
As I stated earlier, the book has over 60 photos, like the one below showing Wavertree first arriving at the museum, and
this one, showing ARA Libertad docked at the SSSM in July 1969 after delivering a portion of the Wavertree‘s topmast, shattered off in 1910 while rounding Cape Horn. Two other interesting notes about the photo below. First, when the Commissioner of Ports and Terminals tried to block Libertad from docking at the SSSM pier, Libertad‘s Captain Vazquez Maiztegui responded, “Libertad will berth in New York at South Street Seaport, no other place.” Second, at around the same time, Pete Seeger and Clearwater put in there to celebrate her first arrival in New york.
I immensely enjoyed this book. My only regret is that it didn’t contain 160 photos or 1600 photos. For example, on September 20, 1968, a Bronx River Towing tug delivered the vessel today known as Lettie G. Howard to Pier 16; I’d love to know more and see a photo. Square Rigger Bar & Grille is repeatedly mentioned; let’s see at least the facade. I’d be thrilled if an electronic addendum of photos from these early years could remedy this.
Again, get the book and read it soon.
Click here for some previous reviews I’ve posted.
Three kings parades happened today in some parts of the world . . . including East Harlem, where camels walk through Manhattan streets. This blog has had a fair number of posts about queens, so here are some kings, though not Gaspar, Melchior or Belthasar.
But here’s Ocean King, a foto I took back in June 2010. I believe she’s built in 1950, and this was the only time I saw her in the sixth boro.
I caught this shot of King Douglas in the KVK in spring 2009; tonight she’s crossing the Andaman Sea.
And finally . . . a stretch, I got this “below the keel” shot of Pe king back in January 2007, a whole seven years ago. Click here to see fotos of Peking‘s first ever arrival in the sixth boro, almost 40 years ago, when there was great optimism about her future.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp.
Here was a post I did in early spring 2013. She went to Portland, Maine for the work, and this morning
she returned to South Street Seaport Museum pier, about 36 hours travel out of Gloucester.
The timing was perfect for me . . . as I’m currently reading A Dream of Tall Ships, Peter Stanford’s account of the years from 1965–1974, when as the subtitle of the book has it, a story of “how NYers came together to save the city’s sailing-ship waterfront.” Well . . . round 1, at least.
Lettie looked glorious in the morning sun, nestling back beside Ambrose, but I couldn’t help looking especially closely at the bow. I’d just read this account the day before in Stanford’s book, a recollection about the vessel then-called Caviare in September 1968
“there was one thing that needed replacing, which not vital to the schooner’s structure, mattered a great deal to her appearance. This was the gammon knee, an oak extension of the stem arching forward under the bowsprit, which nicely completes the sweeping curve of the clipper bow. The old schooner’s gammon knee had been chopped back into a stump to allow a heavy rope fender to be slung under the bow when she’d been adapted for work as a tug.”
Wow! That’s one old foto I’d love to see, this vessel, with a rope bow fender, pushing a barge. Anyone have such a foto?
Lettie‘s back, and so is this fleet. Maybe Lettie‘d love to come out fishing with them? Vessel in the distance is Pati R. Moran. Brown fishboat in the foreground is Eastern Welder.
All fotos this morning by Will Van Dorp.
See it there, the modest red covered barge between Wavertree and Peking? The steel covered barge is called Progress today. Once it transported coffee from ship to shore. I’m making a note to myself: learn more about these.
And right across the East River to the right of the firehouse at Fulton Landing, that modified but still modest white barge used to be Erie Lackawanna 375. It too transported coffee. More on this later. I took this foto 6/16/2009.
Here’s another modified coffee barge, this one just south of Camden, NJ, now the floating office of McAllister in that waterway.
It’s a counterpart to this McAllister office on the KVK. So given all these repurposed coffee barges I knew about, why
did it take me a day short of seven years doing this blog to go to Bargemusic, the EL 375 barge in the foto above? Shame on me, posing in the “shadow selfie” below, for waiting so long to check out this extraordinary barge.
I trekked out there yesterday in spite of the gusty sub-freezing weather to hear some music and have a look.
Jung Lin was warming up on the Steinway, as
was Andy Simionescu.
I didn’t–and one shouldn’t–take fotos during the performance, but during intermission, I went out onto the pier to see the view from the “back” of the stage.
Here’s the obit of founder Olga Bloom–with more info on her barge project– from the NYTimes almost exactly two years ago. From this article, I learn this was her third barge, that it was built around 1900, and that Peter Stamford was instrumental in getting it permission to dock at Fulton Landing. Here’s a spring 1978 article on what may have been Bargemusic’s first season. Here’s a link that gets you an interview with the current president and calendar of upcoming events. By the way, at 2:48 in that interview, a Bouchard tug passes eastbound on the East River.
Credits to those who offered marine trade skills and others can be found here.
Request: the bargemusic site credits a Captain Hearnley as the one to tow the barge to this location. Can anyone say anything about him? Does anyone know the name of the tug or . . . have a foto of that tow? When was the former EL 375 last hauled?
Final shot for today, a foto from 8/27/2010 of Volunteer passing bargemusic.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp. If you have never been to bargemusic, you’ll thank youself if you go there SOON.
Here was ASB 2. There might be eight million stories in the naked city, but in its primary boro aka the sixth boro at least half again that number of other stories could be told . . by the collective whoever knows them.
Captain Zeke moves with the diverse stone trade past folks waiting below our very own waving girl and
all those folks waving and taking fotos from the ferry and every other water conveyance.
The 1950 Nantucket‘s back in town . . for the winter.
Yup . . . no one could have predicted these . . .
back when Shearwater was launched in 1929.
A cruise ship shuffles passengers as Peter F. Gellatly bunkers.
Kristy Ann Reinauer stands by a construction barge.
A barge named Progress has returned to South Street Seaport Museum, here between Wavertree and Peking.
Emerald Coast is eastbound on the East River.
Two views of Adirondack, one with WTC1 –or is it 1 WTC or something else–and
another with the Arabian Sea unit.
And Sea Wolf heads north . . . .
All fotos by Will Van Dorp.
Forecast for the morning after the Oscars was for some sun, which I sorely needed. And who’s out . . . William Oscar aka W. O. Decker, for starters.
I couldn’t quite figure out what Sorensen Miller‘s load was. In the background, that’s the Newark Bay Bridge, which doesn’t make it on my fotos much.
Virginia Sue was fishing off Clermont.
John P. Brown moved nine (?) railcars from Brooklyn to Jersey.
Clipper Legacy arrived here yesterday.
Shawn Miller‘s pushing trucks around again, this one all ready for the mid-March holiday.
Taurus light moves past Christine McAllister.
And . . . let’s conclude with another shot of William Oscar, wherever it may be heading.
All fotos this morning before the clouds moved in . . . by Will Van Dorp.
So after work today, I went looking for evidence that New Yorkers celebrate mardi gras. I saw this instead . . . seal?
Not! Unless seals these days carry flashlights and trail markers and have a support
vessels like Linda Ann, herself supported by W. O. Decker and Peking.
Here is one of a series of six posts I did five years ago about Peking, which moved across the bay that day. And half a year back, here‘s a post I did about W. O. Decker and Helen McAllister‘s last waltz. And Wavertree . . . I regret that in my dozen years wandering the sixth boro, Wavertree has not ONCE left the dock. I know some of you must have fotos . . . and good memories of her moves, but I have none.
BUT . . . click here for a mystery vessel with three masts square-rigged in a foto I was given some years back. Anyone want to take a stab at identifying it? The conclusion a few years back is that the foto is “‘shopped,” although it was done some years ago.
My guess is that someone was inspecting Wavertree‘s wet side.
Later I thought I saw a mermaid . . . but I struck out again.
And for the record, after 1700 hr on the E train I finally saw some mardi gras beads . . . worn by a couple going to a party. I had to ask.
All fotos today by Will Van Dorp.