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. . . my latest coined term . . . for which the acronym GUP lends itself is  . . . gross universal product, i.e. what’s transported in vessels like these.  And it really is “universal,” as evidenced by a Hong Kong vessel like this.   That it is gross . . . let me say that it goes without saying.


Newtown Creek and Red Hook belong to two generations of NYCDEP vessels traveling along the East River . . . past places like this in these photos from 2012.  Red Hook came to transport GUP in 2009, the latest sludge carrier until


this one —Hunts Point–came along this February . . . in a photo compliments of bowsprite


Newtown Creek was launched in 1968 . . . and still carries a lot of GUP.


North River . . . 1974. Imagine your garbage being picked up by a 1974 Oshkosh!


Owls Head, the previous class and shown here in 2009 mothballed, launched in 1952!  And I had to find some 1952 waste picker uppers.


In case you’re wondering what prompts this post and what is new in this post, given previous ones like this and this  . . .  well here it is, something I hunted for a long time and finally found yesterday when the air-conditioned New York Public Library felt fantastic!   Mayor La Guardia spent a grand total of $1,497,000–much of it WPA money–for three sludge carriers launched in January, February, and March 1938, Wards Island, Tallman Island, and Coney Island, resp.  Wards Island and Tallman Island became barges Susan Frank and Rebecca K and Coney Island was reefed in 1987, although I can’t find where.


Below are the specs.  Note that “sludge” is NOT raw GUP.  I’d love to hear stories bout and see pics of these Island class DEP boats.  How large were the crews and what was the work schedule?


Click on the photo below for info on what was at least part of waste disposal–built in Elizabethport 1897— prior to La Guardia’s sludge tankers.


Here from the NYC Municipal Archives is a dumping boat said to be hauled out at “East River Dry docks,”  which I’m not sure the location of.


Unrelated, here’s another vessel–Pvt. Joseph F. Merrell-– built at the same location along the KVK in early 1951 and disposed of not far away after transitioning from Staten Island Merrell-class ferry to NYC prison space.  Does anyone know the disposition of Don Sutherland’s photos of Merrell/Wildstein?

I didn’t want to call this post “something different 19” because clearly it wouldn’t be different from the previous days.  A pattern has emerged, and then I realized that part of the pattern is that these photos depict some of the unidentifiable vessels lost in boneyard or ship graveyards like the one focused upon in the documentary Graves of Arthur Kill.   Here they are, in their prime or at least working although forgotten.

All the photos in this post were taken during the Great Depression, by photographers who were funded through the WPA, Works Progress Administration.  I am grateful this documentation happened.  And my caption are based on the captioning–specific or general–accompanying the photos in the archives.

Below . . . US Gypsum tug.   notice the Bayonne Bridge on the horizon near the left edge of the shot.


Photographer Ralph de Sola took this shot of tug Sarah and much smaller one without a name I can find.


Caption says SS Brennen May 1937.  But I believe the vessel passing Pier A is actually SS Bremen.  Assorted small boats here I can’t identify.


I’m intrigued here by the “car float” marked “Brooklyn Jay Street Terminal . . .”  shifting rail cars from right to left.  Is that a McAllister tug on the far side?  And is that how the Staten Island ferry terminal looked in the late 1930s and what is the building on the water left side of photo where the Coast Guard Building is now located?


Here’s an intriguing E. M. Bofinger photo dated June 1938, taken from  . . . foot of Wall Street?  If Bennett Air Service is at all related to Floyd Bennett and the now unused Floyd Bennett Field, it’s noteworthy that Floyd Bennett himself had died–age 37– in April 1938.  Click here for many more Bofinger photos.


Another photographer of water scenes in the archives is James Suydam.  Here are piers 13 through 15, the area currently just south of South Street Seaport.  Prominent against the sky then was 70 Pine, just to the left of stepped back 120 Wall.  The other two are 40 Wall (with antenna) and 20 Exchange, south of 120 Wall.


Here’s a photo attributed to Treistman, said to be taken from the top of Seamen’s Institute and looking over the same piers as shown in the previous photo.


Moving back over to the other side of Manhattan, it’s SS Conte di Savoia at the pier with an unidentified steam tug to the left.  For a photo of the liner with more color, click here.


Again, the context here . . .  Wednesday night, come see the Graves of Arthur Kill, our documentary screened at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival on tugboats and other vessels of this era and older and what became of them.

And if you’re free the night before, check out this program on salvage sponsored by Working Harbor Committee.


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June 2022