The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

John J. Harvey Fireboat trip part 2

with 2 comments

Down under the George Washington Bridge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Believe it or not, there is a wide world beyond New York City. The John J. Harvey Fireboat passed under the George Washington bridge, and up the Muhheakantuck (or Hudson River, as we palefaces call it). A “drowned river”, the Hudson is actually a marine estuary with strong tides felt as far north as Troy, New York. If one considers the formation as a whole, from its source in Lake Tear of the Clouds all the way to the submarine Hudson Canyon, the implications of its scale are staggering.

from fireboat.org- official site of the Harvey

In the 1920’s the New York City Fire Department’s fleet of 10 steam fireboats was aging, and it was decided to construct a new fireboat with internal combustion power. Basic plans were prepared in 1928. Contracts were drawn up and construction started in 1930 by Todd Shipbuilding’s Plant at the foot of 23rd Street on Brooklyn’s Gowanus Bay. Launching took place on October 6, 1931 with the boat completed and placed in commission on December 17, 1931. Harvey’s dimensions are 130′ long with a 28′ beam and a 9′ draft. She is of steel construction with a riveted hull. Propulsion is by twin screws six feet in diameter. She was the largest, and most powerful fireboat in the world when built. More importantly, she was the model of modern fireboat engineering, and set the pattern for all subsequent fireboats to follow.

John J. Harvey was Pilot of the steam fireboat Thomas Willett, assigned to Engine Co. 86 at Bloomfield Street. On February 11, 1930 a fire broke out aboard the North German Lloyd Lines ship Muenchen at North River Pier 42, Morton Street. Willett came alongside and her crew started working aboard the burning ship. Soon a series of terrible explosions tore throughMuenchen. One of the worst caused serious damage to the fireboat and swept men overboard. John J. Harvey, knocked over the side by a section of steel plate, was killed instantly. His body was recovered from the river four hours later. It was quickly announced that the new fireboat to be built in Brooklyn would be named in his honor. This was the first time a fireboat was named for a member of the Fire Department.

Harvey’s long life in the Port of New York includes service at hundreds of serious fires, explosions, and marine disasters. One of the first was the five alarm fire that destroyed Cunard’s Pier 54 at West 14th Street in May 1932. In 1942 Harvey worked at the fire that destroyed the French Line’s Normandie, the grandest ocean liner ever built. In 1943 Harvey along with Fire Fighter went into harm’s way to control a raging fire aboard the ammunition ship El Estero. The ship was eventually scuttled, and Harvey’s entire crew received the highest awards for bravery. Harvey has also operated at dozens of major pier fires, in New York as well as New Jersey where FDNY has jurisdiction.

Leaving the lower Hudson by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The John J. Harvey Fireboat History- from Wikipedia

She had a distinguished career in the FDNY, from her launch in 1931 to her retirement in 1994. Among the marine fires at which she assisted were the Cunard Line pier fire in 1932, the burning of the Normandie in 1942, the ammunition ship El Estero during World War II, and the collision of the Alva Cape and Texaco Massachusetts oil tankers in 1966. She was named for marine fireman John J. Harvey, who lost his life when a ship exploded during a fire. Her official designation at the end of her career was Marine 2.

She was sold, at auction, in 1999, to a private consortium of marine preservationists determined to prevent her from scrapping. In June 2000 she was added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. Her current owners have thoroughly restored her, and host frequent free trips on the river.

Fireboat Turrets by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The John J. Harvey Fireboat History- from Wikipedia

The John J. Harvey had an unexpected encore. During the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the boat’s owners asked FDNY officials for permission to assist in evacuations from Ground Zero. Meanwhile, firefighters had determined that the vast scale of destruction had damaged many fire mains, depriving fire crews of water. Officials radioed the Harvey to drop off her passengers as soon as possible and return to the disaster site to pump water, reactivating her official designation Marine 2. Alongside two other FDNY fireboats, she pumped water at the site for 80 hours, until water mains were restored.^  The National Trust for Historic Preservation gave the Harvey a special National Preservation Award to recognize this incident. The Harvey‘s story was the subject of a 2002 children’s book.

The Tugboat Barbara E. Bouchard by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

As the Harvey moved north, we congregated on deck and marveled at the show passing by. The Tugboat Barbara E. Bouchard was moving a barge. A 1992 engenue from the Moss Point Marine Shipbuilding Yards in Mississippi, Barbara E. Bouchard is a slim 591 tons and looks good in red.

Tugboat Falcon by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

This is a tug called Falcon, and I’ve got nothing on this one. Had to happen, really. Anyone out there got anything on this tug? Hey Tugster

Hudson cliffs by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The New Jersey side of the river, with its impressive cliffs. These are hydrologic scars in the earth, the Hudson has been cutting this canyon since the last ice age. 

The Tugboat Sea Service by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The tug Sea Service, with its barge. Sea Service was built in 1975 at the VT Halter Marine yard in Mississippi, and weighs 173 tons. It used to known as the “Capt. Paul”, and as the “Sea Star”.

Fireboat going up the Hudson by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

from fireboat.org- official site of the Harvey

The New York Fire Department operated the largest fleet of fireboats. All fireboats before Harvey were steam, all since were diesel powered. The average specifications for these 28 fireboats was about 100′ in length, over 7000 gallons per minute (gpm) pump capacity, with a speed of 15 knots. This list includes all vessels built as fireboats as well as the four tenders VeloxCaptain ConnellSmoke, and Smoke II. Tenders were used as auxiliary boats to assist the big fireboats or as command stations for Chiefs. Some tenders had limited pumping capacity. In the late 19th century the City of Brooklyn had a Fire Department almost as large as New York’s. When the two cities were consolidated in 1898, the Brooklyn fireboatsSeth Low and David A. Boody joined the FDNY fleet. Delivery of the four 105′ boats of the Wilks class, almost completely dieselized the fleet by 1961. Only one steam fireboat remained on the roster. Starting in the 1960s, FDNY sporadically used some converted commercial hulls in seasonal service in outlying parts of the harbor. Some were equipped with small pumps. These fast motorboats were used primarily for water rescues or emergencies. They are not included in this list. Another class not included here were boats not belonging to FDNY but equipped with pumps that could be pressed into service for firefighting when needed. Their use was restricted to the 19th century as the FDNY fleet was being built up. These were the steam tugs John Fuller and Protector, and the Police Department’s steamboatSeneca. In the 19th century the awesome pumping power of fireboats was quickly proven as the only solution to fighting fires that were either uncontrollable or inaccessible with conventional apparatus. The same principle holds true today, and it can still be said that “when you need a fireboat, nothing else will do!”.

Down under the Tappan Zee Bridge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Tappan Zee bridge suddenly loomed low over the river. My gold standard for reference on New York bridges is nycroads.com. Check out their Tappan Zee page here.

from wikipedia:

With the increasing demands for commuter travel taxing the existing bridges and tunnels, the Port of New York Authority had plans in 1950 to construct a bridge across the Hudson near Dobbs Ferry. The proposal was overridden by Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey, who wanted to construct a bridge to connect the New York State Thruway across Westchester to the New England Thruway. The Port Authority promised its bondholders that it would not allow any other entity to construct a river crossing within its jurisdiction, which reached to a point one mile (1.6 km) south of Nyack and across to Piermont. May 10, 1950 editorial in The New York Times suggested that a site in southern Dobbs Ferry or northern Hastings-on-Hudson, where the Hudson narrowed considerably from its three-mile (5 km) width at Tappan Zee, would be a more appropriate site, and suggested that Governor Dewey work with his counterpart, Governor of New Jersey Alfred E. Driscoll, to craft a compromise that would offer Thruway customers a discounted bridge fare at a more southerly crossing.[6] Two days later, Governor Dewey announced that the Port Authority had dropped its plans to construct a bridge of its own. The location would be as close to the Tarrytown-Nyack line just outside the Port Authority’s jurisdiction. Dewey stated that World War II military technology would be used in the bridge’s construction.

Down under the Tappan Zee Bridge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

from wikipedia:

The deteriorating structure, which bears far more traffic than it was designed for, has led to plans to repair the bridge or replace it with a tunnel or a new bridge. These plans and discussions were whittled down to six options and underwent environmental review. Part of the justification for the replacement of the bridge has been that it was constructed during material shortages during the Korean War and only designed to last 50 years. The collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota on August 1, 2007 has renewed concerns about the bridge’s structural integrity.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is studying the feasibility of either including a rail line across the new bridge or building the new bridge so a new rail line can be installed at a future date. The rail line, if built, will be located on a lower level, beneath the car lanes. Commuter rail service west of the bridge in Rockland County is limited, and the MTA is studying expansion possibilities in Rockland County that would use the new bridge to connect with the Hudson Line (Metro-North) on the east side of the bridge along the Hudson River for direct service into Manhattan.

On September 26, 2008, New York state officials announced their plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with a new bridge that includes commuter-train tracks and lanes for high-speed buses. The bridge would cost $6.4 billion, while adding bus lanes from Suffern to Port Chester would cost $2.9 billion. Adding a rail line from the Metro-North station in Suffern and across the bridge, connecting with Metro-North’s Hudson Line south of Tarrytown, would cost another $6.7 billion. The plan is being reviewed for environmental impact.

The tugboat Glen Cove by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

River traffic really started to drop off near the Tappan Zee. After we passed it, the shorelines on both sides of the river began to take on a small town feel. Small town with the occasional barge of fill passing by, of course.

Hudson Houses by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Looks lovely, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t you want to live here? What could it be, perhaps something just around the next bend on the river?

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

Sigh.

I’m a Newtown Creek guy, this is somebody else’s problem. We’re all gonna die of something.

an obligatory wikipedia link

The reactors own website

Riverkeeper

NY Daily News Omnibus Indian Point Page

Fireboat exhaust by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Motor on Harvey, away from the three eyed fishes.

Bear Mountain Bridge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Bear Mountain Bridge, New York landing. There’s a train tunnel in the lower right of the shadow, completely hidden in the shadows. 

nycroads.com has a great page on the history of the bridge here.

Auto, rail, and footbridge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

This is actually pretty neat, a pedestrian, rail, and vehicle bridge in one shot.

Bannerman's Island by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Bannerman’s island. Francis Bannerman VI was a Brooklyn kid of Scottish descent who joined the Union army during the Civil War. At the end of the conflict, massive amounts of military surplus were being auctioned off by the victorious Union. Bannerman bought this surplus and became a successful merchant based at 501 Broadway in Manhattan. By the time that the Spanish American War ended, Bannerman was already a rich man, and the Federal Government sold him 90% of all war surplus in a closed bid. A lot of this surplus was munitions and black powder, which the City of New York did not want him to warehouse within city limits. 

from hudsonriver.com

Bannerman’s Catalog Customers
In the early 1900s, Bannerman’s supply of military goods was staggering. Nations at peace were his customers. Thom Johnson approximates that “50 percent of the commemorative cannons placed in public areas were purchased through Bannerman’s.” And nations at war outfitted whole armies through Bannerman’s. During the Russian-Japanese war, Bannerman’s filled an order for 100,000 saddles, rifles, knapsacks, haversacks, gun slings, uniforms and 20 million cartridges, as well as a shipload of assorted military goods.
Collectors claim that the Bannerman catalog is the best book ever written on weapons of war. Published regularly from the 1880s to the 1960s, its approximately 350 illustrated pages feature African arrows with metal barbed points to a Moroccan sheik saddle in serviceable order. They supplied countless theatrical productions with uniforms for costumes, and many illustrators and painters with military detail. But the Bannerman family also understood little boys. They advertised their large, illustrated catalog in the back of pulp magazines in the 1920s and ’30s for 40 cents.
“To my generation, Bannerman’s was a real evocative name,” says Bob Parker, now a man nearing 70. “My brother and I used to get the catalog in New Mexico where we lived in the 1930s, and buy kepis (hats) issued in the Civil War for seventy five cents! A lot of things came in their original crates, never unpacked. It was a great place for tack, cots, tents, saddles … I still have my kepi from 1935.”
Bannerman’s Catalog Customers
In the early 1900s, Bannerman’s supply of military goods was staggering. Nations at peace were his customers. Thom Johnson approximates that “50 percent of the commemorative cannons placed in public areas were purchased through Bannerman’s.” And nations at war outfitted whole armies through Bannerman’s. During the Russian-Japanese war, Bannerman’s filled an order for 100,000 saddles, rifles, knapsacks, haversacks, gun slings, uniforms and 20 million cartridges, as well as a shipload of assorted military goods.
Collectors claim that the Bannerman catalog is the best book ever written on weapons of war. Published regularly from the 1880s to the 1960s, its approximately 350 illustrated pages feature African arrows with metal barbed points to a Moroccan sheik saddle in serviceable order. They supplied countless theatrical productions with uniforms for costumes, and many illustrators and painters with military detail. But the Bannerman family also understood little boys. They advertised their large, illustrated catalog in the back of pulp magazines in the 1920s and ’30s for 40 cents.
“To my generation, Bannerman’s was a real evocative name,” says Bob Parker, now a man nearing 70. “My brother and I used to get the catalog in New Mexico where we lived in the 1930s, and buy kepis (hats) issued in the Civil War for seventy five cents! A lot of things came in their original crates, never unpacked. It was a great place for tack, cots, tents, saddles … I still have my kepi from 1935.”

Bannerman's Arsenal 2 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Bannerman built his castle over an 18 year period, at the end of which he died. In 1920, 200 pounds of powder and shells exploded and destroyed part of the castle. It lost its ferryboat in a storm in 1950, and a fire in 1969 rendered the place a abandoned wreck. Its the New York State Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s problem these days.

Bannerman's Arsenal 1 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Indians didn’t like this island, with its dangerous tides and reputation of being haunted. There’s meant to be a ghost called Polly Pel in residence, named for the Dutch nomenclature of the landmass- Pollepel Island. 

Fireboat comes to Poughkeepsie by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Harvey at last made it to Poughkeepsie, and the Crew began preparing to dock.

Fireboat docking by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

As you can see, the ship was lousy with photographers.

Got it in one by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Got it in one toss. Sweet.

Fireboat John J. Harvey at dock in Poughkeepsie by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

We disembarked in Poughkeepsie, and left the Harvey to its business. The Crew said that they would be participating in 4th of July celebrations through the next day, including a laser show. The John J. Harvey is in dire need of both physical repair and financial support. Visit fireboat.org for information on the Harvey and what you can do to help out.

Next posting- We return to Queens and Newtown Creek. Also, some exciting new information has come to us on the Hook and Ladder 66 building on Northern Blvd that I’ll share later this week.

About these ads

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 28, 2009 at 10:19 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. [...] That’s the John J. Harvey fireboat, incidentally- for more on the Harvey- click here, and here, and [...]

  2. […] Today, the John J. Harvey is docked at Pier 66 Maritime and periodically offers free rides on the Hudson. Mitch Waxman, Working Harbor Committee’s official photographer, has a superb photo essay of one of the fireboat’s frequent trips up the North River to Poughkeepsie. –Part 1 & Part 2. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 877 other followers

%d bloggers like this: