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Archive for June 25th, 2009

Working Harbor Committee 6/15/09 tour part 1

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Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges by you.

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges from South Street Seaport -Photo by Mitch Waxman

After a driving rainstorm that blackened the skies over Manhattan, the very end of which I experienced while standing on Pier 16 while waiting for the hired Circleline company’s Zephyr Catamaran to return from the first of its two tours of New York Harbor being offered by the Working Harbor Committee. These esteemed maritime enthusiasts will be offering 3 more of these narrated excursions over the course of this summer of 2009. If its convenient, you too- dear reader- should consider booking passage for an interesting and revealing summer evening cruise. 

Brooklyn by you.

Brooklyn Promenade from South Street Seaport -Photo by Mitch Waxman

The story of the destruction of New York City’s maritime neighborhoods by Robert Moses and the BQE doesn’t end when he cut Astoria in twain or screwed the Bronx up forever with the Cross Bronx Expressway.

His attempt to cleave Brooklyn Heights in half was averted by the massive wealth and political clout of the community who didn’t want to see their neighborhood turned into Long Island City. Instead, the BQE runs along the coast as a double decker highway with a cement cover on it that Moses called “the promenade“. Nobody screwed with Bob Moses, except for the governor who wrested control over federal transportation and public housing money away from him by creating the MTA, which absorbed control over Moses’s powerbase- the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority in 1968.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller was the man who cut the godlike Moses down to size, having seen how the “man who built New York” operated when they worked together on building the United Nations complex.

Red Hook Gantry Cranes by you.

Red Hook Container Cranes -Photo by Mitch Waxman


As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a huge nerd. Comic books, Star Trek, and Lovecraft. Lots of H.P. Lovecraft. This next series of photos is from Red Hook- as in “the Horror at Red Hook“. I’m going to try and control myself but… but… MORE PEOPLE ENTER RED HOOK THAN LEAVE IT BY THE LANDWARD SIDE!!! Whew. Got that out of my system. Back to the facts.

If you click the above image, and go to its page at flickr, and then hit all sizes for the zoom-in higher resolution shots- you’ll notice these things are on wheels. They move around, and are the bridge for railroad car sized containers between land to sea transport. These are container cranes- and small ones at that- at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Wait till you see the ones at the other end of the trip.

from wikipedia:

a small map of Atlantic Basin in 1849 (actual size below- sorry)

Red Hook Piers by you.

Red Hook Shoreline -Photo by Mitch Waxman

Good to see that Red Hook’s waterfront is just as available to its residents as the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront is back in the Pentacle. Fenced off, privately owned, used as vehicle parking and storage. 

Red Hook by you.

Red Hook approaching Erie Basin -Photo by Mitch Waxman

This was some kind of victorian warehouse, and unless I’m mistaken, this is the Beard St. Pier. Its waterfront had no fence, and it was collapsing. 

Red Hook Piers by you.

Entering Erie Basin by (possibly?) Beard St. Pier -Photo by Mitch Waxman

Said collapsing waterfront- I’ve looked around online and have found pictures of this pier existing in this condition all the way back to the early 90’s. This was facing toward shore, over my shoulder were docks…

Red Hook Piers Tug by you.

Erie Basin Tug -Photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the Tug Zachery Reinauer docked in Erie Basin. It was built in 1971 at the Matton Shipyard, and cruises at an average of 9.4 knots. It weighs 271 tons. 

Red Hook Piers by you.

Manhattan Skyline from Red Hook -Photo by Mitch Waxman

This area was either the location of, or very close to, the site of the Todd Shipyards. The 12th ward is another of New York’s oldest neighborhoods- first settled by the Dutch in 1636- They called it Roode Hoek. In the 1980’s, Life magazine once named Red Hook the “crack capital of the United States”. It’s where Al Capone and Crazy Joe Gallo are from.

Red Hook Piers by you.

Erie Basin -Photo by Mitch Waxman

Red Hook was an early home to the Rapelje (Rapelye) clan- a dutch family who got into New York real estate early in the game. 

from click here for the full post

“Joris Jansen Rapalje was one of the first white settlers on the Long Island. The Rapaljes gave birth to and baptized eleven children—the first child, Sarah, was the first European female born in what would become New York, though whether she was born in Brooklyn or upstate New York is in dispute. It is believed that the Rapaljes have over a million descendants.”

image from

“Erie Basin Terminal
At the foot of Columbia Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. Governor’s Island and lower Manhattan Island in the background. Circa early 1950s? Before States Marine Lines bought Isthmian.”


Ship by you.

Tug and barge in New York Harbor -Photo by Mitch Waxman

The Tug Austin Reinauer pushes a fuel barge through New York harbor. Built in 1978 as the Morania #20- sold in 1988 as the Mobil-5- then again in 1993 as the Tamarac- as the Morania-1 in 1995- and finally as the Austin Reinauer in 1997. It cruises at an average of 10.2 knots. The barge is the RTC 100, which is a 100,000 barrel capacity fuel barge. I have to post the source for this info- check this out.


Exxon is Esso. Mobil is Esso. Esso is S… and… O. S&O and all its other brand names are ultimately Standard Oil

Kill Van Kull long shot by you.

Looking east into New York harbor from  the Kill Van Kull -Photo by Mitch Waxman

All I could think of as we passed through the Kill Van Kull, was that the Newtown Creek must have looked something like this in its day. And that “they” are doing it all over again, this time in Jersey. It was a Monday night, after 7pm, and the industrial complexes on Jersey side were still humming. The Staten Island side of the waterway, however, looked small harbor town sleepy.

Staten Island waterfront by you.

Staten Island Waterfront, Kill Van Kull -Photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s an excellent history of the Staten Island waterfront story from Staten Island’s esoteric past is well outside of my knowledge.

Also- My 2 cents say that once again, New York built a wall between its citizenry and their waterfronts.

Tug at work by you.

Tug nudging ship into place at dock in the Kill Van Kull -Photo by Mitch Waxman

The tug Ellen McAllister was originally built for the U.S. Navy, as the Piqua, at the Marinette Marine Shipyards in Wisconsin in July of 1967. The Piqua’s anchorage for many years was at Holy Loch, Scotland. It spent most of its naval career providing tug services for the 1st naval district and the Atlantic Fleet. It was sold under its current name in 2001 to McAllister Towing

Harbor by you.

Tug at dock, Kill Van Kull  -Photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m sort of leaning toward this being the tug Durham- but can’t find much about a ship of that name- or a clear photo to match it with.

Tug and barge by you.

the Tug K-Sea Falcon -Photo by Mitch Waxman

A New York Harbor barge mover, the 3,200 BHP Falcon has a raised second pilothouse to see over its charges. It’s a youngster– built in 1990 at the Tampa Ship yards in Florida. The gigantic ship in the background is an ocean going transport ship that carries automobiles.

Dry Docks by you.

Floating Dry Docks, Staten Island  -Photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a tugboat in that floating drydock. It’s the K-Sea Coral Sea- a 3,280 horsepower, 193 gross ton tug that, along with a long career all along the atlantic seaboard, participated in the evacuation of the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001. It was built in 1973 as “the Venturer” at the Houma Louisiana Main Iron Works yards. This floating drydock is most likely the Cadell Dry Dock and Repair Co.

from wikipedia:

A floating drydock is a type of pontoon for dry docking ships, possessing floodable buoyancy chambers and a “U” shaped cross-section. The walls are used to give the drydock stability when the floor is below the water level. When valves are opened the chambers are filled with water, the dry dock floats lower in the water, allowing a ship to be moved into position inside. When the water is pumped out of the chambers, the drydock rises and the deck is cleared of water, allowing work to proceed on the ship’s hull.

Arthur Kill Horizon by you.

Newark bay skyline, from Kill Van Kull -Photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, at the western side of the Kill Van Kull, we near the Bayonne Bridge and see the Newark Bay skyline in the west with the setting sun behind it. Luckily, the date chosen for this excursion was perilously close to the summer equinox (Beltane), and despite the late hour- the burning sun still stared down upon New Jersey- and the culmination of the journey- Newark Bay and Port Elizabeth.

Bayonne Bridge by you.

Down under the Bayonne Bridge- aka DUBBO -Photo by Mitch Waxman

But that’s on the other side of the Bayonne Bridge… and another post

as always, if something you read here is contradicted by something you know, contact me. Additions and corrections are always welcomed.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2009 at 12:42 am

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