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January 1912, a mere 1202 months ago. Ambrose at work with White Star Olympic passing in background. Olympic at this time was less than a year on the job and already suffered one collision. Four months later, of course, her younger sister ship would begin its ill-fated maiden voyage to New York.
I recall seeing this foto before I moved to New York and imagined that “channel 87″ was the means to contact the vessel. Oh well . . . live and learn, eh?
March 2012. Ambrose in her 46th year post-decommissioning after having served the USCG (and precursors) 59 years. Photo by Birk Thomas. In lower right hand corner, that’s Atlantic Salt’s Richmond Terrace mountain.
St. Peter’s neo-Romanesque sanctuary has dominated the east end of the KVK for over a century.
Structure just forward of Ambrose here is Sono’s “postcards,” a 9/11 memorial.
Many thanks to Birk for these fotos.
The first 11 fotos here come compliments of bowsprite, who was so eager to get fotos of Ambrose‘ return that she admits to running out to the East River to get these shots … in her pyjamas …! Now THAT would have been a sight to see. As evidenced by her posts here and here, she IS a devotee of lightships.
I leave most of the narrative here to her fotos, which begin here are a parade processed past the heliport along the East River.
traveling on the hip of Charles D. McAllister, whom I foto’d from seagull perspective recently.
Et voila! Guess who’s back in town . . . Ms. O, Alice . . . my first love!
The final foto above comes thanks to Mike Cohen . . . who snapped it from Brooklyn Heights.
So here’s a matter to speculate about: Ambrose‘ return attracted some of the mainstream media. Is it possible that these media are starting to pay more attention to folks’ attention paid to water and harbor and sixth boro events?
A year ago I was pessimistic and wrote a bleak post and made this offer. I have now officially passed some benjamins. Last Saturday I went back to the South Street Seaport Museum and the new life excited me. First, there’s this new blog, which I hope continues. My friend John Watson, volunteer at the museum for decades and frequent contributor on tugster, has been responsible for many of the fotos.
Then, of course, volunteer spirit at SSSM has been irrepressible. On Saturday February 18, over two dozen volunteers doing winter maintenance worked on or in four of the vessels at least. A year of idleness has allowed rust to invade everywhere, rust that needs to be busted.
Hammers, chains, power grinders . . . whatever would combine with sweat to prep for rust inhibitor and ultimately new paint was pressed into service. I even set down my camera a few hours and assaulted some areas of rust, just because I enjoyed it.
It’s no simple cliche that rust never sleeps, and big projects like Wavertree require huge infusions of cash and effort to hold off the ravages of time. But the spirit of volunteerism is also indispensible.This googlemap view shows where all the current museum vessels used to park. Can you name them all? Some may still go to better places.
Ambrose and Lettie G. Howard often docked in the open space here; they are off-site for repair and refurbishing before they return.What really impressed me was inside Schermerhorn Row. Floor 3 has “Super Models,” ship replicas from the collection, smartly displayed.
On the way back down, stop again on Floor 3 for a set of Edward Burtynsky‘s stunning fotos of shipbreaking in Bangladesh.
But don’t take my word for any of this. There’s more than I describe here. And more to come . . . like the re-opening of some form of research library . . . . Become a member. Come and visit. Stop by and bust rust. The barge name here describes what’s happening at the Museum.
Birk took these waterside fotos the better part of a week ago. It took me a while to figure out the “color” of the mushroom anchor at the bow.
From this NPS Maritime Heritage Program link, I learned that Ambrose was launched in 1907 and originally wore straw colored paint–with her name in black–not the white lettering on red hull she’s sported since the 1930s. Oh . . . the folks in the red suits around her in this shot . . . they must belong to some secret society of the Nacirema.
Although I have many more “oldcarcity” fotos to share soon, John Watson got the following fotos from his sixth boro cliff yesterday, and they must go up. Kudos , John!
John’s fotos are physical manifestations of the renaissance of South Street Seaport Museum. Lightship Ambrose (LV-87), built 1908 . . . a year after Pegasus, is headed to Caddell’s for some love aka life support.
by the gracious Charles D. McAllister.
Again, thanks much, John. Here’s a question from a tipster . . . not me! in ny.Curbed. This is very promising news for the renascent museum; however, like all newborns AND reborns, it needs ongoing support . . . benjamins and members and volunteers.
My last fotos of a lightship in the sixth boro came here exactly two months ago.
Meanwhile, tugster continues a gallivant in the south . . . today off to a high point between Nickajack Lake and Chickamauga Lake.
Update: May Day no more at South Street Seaport Museum, and I have sent my benjamins as promised. As I understand it, the Museum has been “taken over” in some fashion by the Museum of the City of New York. Below, Peter Stanford addressed a group of “save our seaport” supporters back in May.
Bravo to Save our Seaport for their efforts to pull together support.
This is related. The Great Lakes are mostly devoid of commercial passenger traffic today, but a century ago, had my great-great grandparents lived and prospered along the “northern coast” of the US, deluxe cruise itineraries might include stops at Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit.
SS Aquarama exudes that age of optimism. Too bad I hadn’t started this blog and contracted my obsession a decade or more earlier . . . I would have been able to photograph her in mothballs in Buffalo. Although it’s better late than never, when “stuff gets gone, it’s gone.”
So here’s the answer to my “whatzit” question . . . that place of carved oak above is the lounge on one of those Great Lakes passenger vessels: City of Detroit III. Who knows what honetmooners, retirees, or other celebrants smoked cigarettes (back when that was thought sophisticated) and sipped drinks here.
Among the many great people I met this past year was Peter Boucher of Nautical Log. Peter sent me this foto in response to a foto of Cove Isle, here. Peter’s explanation of the foto below is as follows: “When we were on the 1967 Western Arctic Patrol in CCGS Camsell at one of the river stops this CCG river vessel came out to visit us. Our Captain renamed it “Dimwit”, as it looked like it was going to turn over at any moment.” Here’s another shot of Dumit.
I had to include this foto here: this endless coal train travels along the bottom of the Great Lake called “Lake Maumee.” Never heard of it? It was there, though. The day before Thanksgiving I waited a long time as this slow train moved prehistoric plant material along the bed of this prehistoric lake.
Blue Marlin captivated me this year, to put it mildly. Here Clearwater, another worthy project if you’re still toying with year-end donations, checks it out.
Guest post by Sandy Eames, a friend, a South Street Seaport Museum volunteer since 2001, and a Save Our Seaport steering committee member. Sandy read this at Community Board 1 meeting of 5/24/2011. In my 2006 foto below, Sandy is working on Pioneer‘s tender, named for a museum volunteer John Willett. In the background, left to right are Helen McAllister, Marion M, Peking, and (barely visible) Pioneer.
“I do not want to run anything, I simply want to be able to learn how to cut wood better and varnish it so that it onlookers say “oooh”, and steer a historic schooner again through the night under the stars. Of course, being able to do this with the ships under the capable care of the leading maritime museum in America in New York would be wonderful too! But we are not there yet!
I wonder how we got to live in New York City. Our forebears came the hard way – by sailing ship on journeys often taking a month. I came here in 1980 the easy way, on a Laker Skytrain into JFK. But are we going to teach our children and visitors here that everyone arrived by jet at JFK in the 1600’s? I don’t think so.
What has happened to the South Street Seaport Museum over the last decade or more simply appalls its friends, supporters and volunteers. Take a favorite schooner away from a sailor and you have trouble!
But what’s much worse is the secrecy of the Seaport Museum’s administration, its failure to outreach to its members, volunteers, the local community, and the maritime community, and the management’s ineptitude in running the museum effectively. The result is now that the museum is on the rocks, mostly out of business, yet the existing captain and admiral remain at the helm. It’s no wonder that a large group of people is upset, wanting change, and making noise.
I hope I speak for the many volunteers, museum members, local waterfront supporters and many maritime leaders across the country who would love to pitch in, do what they can to help save this institution, and put it back together – back on an even keel perhaps? Just where did all these maritime expressions come from? Did you get your one square meal today? Is the cat still in the bag? Such a teaching opportunity!
Here’s my proposal:
First: Lock down the museum immediately. Stop any further damage to the museum. Change the locks. Ask the volunteers to monitor and sustain the ships.
Second: Bring in an Interim CEO to run the place, to give us a chance to rebuild, make a new business plan, raise new funds, and then hire a new full time top flight CEO from the maritime museum field to run the place. Volunteers can run Pioneer this summer and generate needed revenue.
Third: Return to profitable sanity. Go back to teaching our kids and visitors the maritime history of New York. Re-open the museum’s galleries showing its extensive collection of paintings, scrimshaw and tools. Put the ships back to work as floating galleries with exhibitions of how New York really started, and take some of them out working on the water.
We urgently need your help in cutting through the thicket of government institutions so that we can achieve a change from secrecy, ineptitude and lack of trust, to openness, competency, support and engagement.”
Thank you, Sandy!
In the second foto, taken by the inimitable bowsprite, Sandy’s showing off the brass treads he installed in Pioneer‘s aft cabin ladder.
Just a quick update: I’ve heard from 11 people–some on email–willing to put up some money. I intended this as pledging a la Public Radio/Television. I had imagined that once a sizeable amount of money was pledged and a goal for the money was agreed upon, we could collect the money. May Day–the seasonal one–arrives soon. The dire one I hope never arrives. To fuel the discussion, I’m putting up fotos never before (I think) never posted here. Like Peking,
I’m offering to give away a Benjamin Franklin, or a half dozen. And I’ll do it before May Day!! See the end of the post.
The foto below–never posted here before–comes from 2005 and shows “the schooners,” a handsome Pioneer (1885) and elegant Lettie G. Howard (1893), 244 years of sailing between them. On a personal note, I logged in over 600 hours as a volunteer on these two boats as well as on W. O. Decker between 2004–2006. That means winter maintenance as well as summer sailing.
Such nautical treasures are these vessels (left to right: Marion M, Wavertree, W. O. Decker, and Peking) and so many fine folks, volunteers as well as professional crew, did I meet during this time . . that
When word on the street says Museum administration is looking to “send its working ships to ports elsewhere for long-term storage” and otherwise declining comment on the crumbling state of affairs, I hope to hear that these same administrators abdicate their positions. These vessels are no white elephants. These are no “floating paperweights.”
During my years as an active volunteer, I knew this place could be much more than a red barn with seven masts sticking up above it.
Conditions of giving away my Benjamins: current Museum president Mary Pelzer resign effective immediately and a committee focused on the vessels be installed forthwith. And, I’d like 1000 people (former volunteers, boat fans, former professional crew members, just plain fans of these vessels, or friends and friends of friends of any of the above) to pledge at least a Benjamin each to be deposited with a trustworthy and maricentric steward by May 1, 2011. This could be the “seaport spring.” Let’s not let this go to May Day.
See the selection below from yesterday’s New York Post. Here’s info on a “Save our Ships” meeting for April 28. All fotos above by Will Van Dorp.
“Abandoning ships: City’s old vessels lost in fog of debt, neglect,” New York Post, April 25. “Rotting wood covers their decks, their masts are flaked with rust, and their hulls are corroding.
New York’s last tall ships — once-proud symbols of the Big Apple’s rise to greatness — are in a shameful state of disrepair as the museum that’s supposed to care for them sinks in a Bermuda Triangle of debt and bad management. Seaport Museum New York has closed its landside galleries and is looking to send its working ships to ports elsewhere for long-term storage.
The museum’s stationary ships — Peking, one of the biggest sailing ships ever built, Wavertree, a three-masted cargo ship, and Ambrose, a lightship that a century ago guided sailors into New York harbor — face an unknown fate. ‘Those ships, which are emblematic of our heritage on the waterfront, are almost being left to rot,’ said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a coalition of nonprofit groups. . . . The museum declined comment, except to say it is ‘exploring various options’ to maintain its vessels.”