The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

John J. Harvey Fireboat trip part 1- the North RIver

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Fireboat John J. Harvey by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

On July 3rd of 2009, I was invited to ride along on the Fireboat John J. Harvey as it made its way “up” the Hudson River to take part in the July 4th celebrations of the City of Poughkeepsie. Onboard, along with its crew, were a gaggle of photographers and antiquarians. Members and directors of the Working Harbor Committee, the Newtown Creek Alliance, and notable individuals such as maritime photographer Jonathan Atkin and Tugster’s own Will Van Dorp

We boarded the Harvey at Pier 66 in Manhattan, where it shares its berth with other historic vessels such as the Frying Pan.

Tugboat Miriam Moran and cruise ship Carnival Miracle by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Before we even left the dock, the show on (what Will Van Dorp has christened) the sixth borough began. The Tugboat Miriam Moran was guiding the Cruise Ship Carnival Miracle (call sign H3VS) up the Hudson from lower New York Harbor. The Miriam Moran is a 149 ton ship that was built at the McDermott Shipyard in Amelia, LA in November of 1979. The Carvival Miracle is an 85,942 ton ship which carries 934 crew members and up to 2,667 passengers which use 12 elevators to reach its 3 restaurants, 4 swimming pools, and 12 decks. Its 963 feet long and flagged in Panama, and was built at the Aker Yards in Norway in 2004. Miracle cruises at a maximum ocean going speed of 22 knots.

Some sort of controversy erupted onboard the ship a couple of years ago because of a change in itinerary due to Hurricane Hana, resulting in “the miracle riot“.

Tugboat Miriam Moran by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a little zoom-in for the Miriam Moran, with New Jersey in the background. For more on the McDermott Shipyards, which built the MM, click here.

Misty Manhattan by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

As the Harvey got underway, the weather was definitely not with those of us with cameras in our hands. A misty morning typical of the turbulent atmospherics experienced by New York City in the early summer of 2009, there was a hanging mist in the air. Also, it was just after 7AM, never a good time for shooting on the west side of Manhattan. Centered in the shot above is the Worldwide Plaza, which is a building I used to work in when it housed the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather in the late 1990’s and early 21st century. 

Midtown Manhattan from Hudson River- Starrett Lehigh building by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Starrett Lehigh building is an enormous (former) warehouse built to accommodate the thriving rail trade of the early 20th century, and can be found at 601 West 26th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. Built by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, the SL building had railroad tracks leading into its ground floor, but has had its rail and dock links severed. Once, the railroad would load barges with railcars, and float them across the Hudson to Manhattan tracks which would use Diesel engines to pull them into the building. 

Midtown Manhattan from Hudson by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

As the Harvey’s engines began to gather speed, the vast shield wall of the Manhattan Midtown Megaliths began to roll by. Until quite recently, in the area below 34th street and above Canal Street, Manhattan used to be at a relatively human scale. This is why the cultural and artistic communities of New York City agglomerated in this area. The building boom of the last 20 years, however, has continued to follow the debauched urbanist philosophy of vertical separation twixt street and citizen, and is part of the reason why Manhattan is just not fun anymore. Its easy to screw the working class if you live or work in a rarefied atmosphere high over the city- your fellow citizens appear to be ants and you might as well treat them as such. 

Intrepid Aircraft carrier by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The USS Intrepid has returned to its pier at 42nd street, after repairs were mandated and the great ship was drydocked in Bayonne at the former Miltary Ocean Terminal.

editorializing time again:

Incidentally, does anyone else see the irony in the memorial erected by the Russian Federation for the September 11 attacks. The “Tears of Grief“?

“Russian tears” is an ironic euphemism, to me- like “with russian efficiency”.

Nothing against our former mortal enemies, but Russians are not a people known for their “touchie feelie”  politics. It was very nice of them to send us a statue, though.

Tugboat Miriam Moran and cruise ship by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Miriam Moran completing the docking of the Miracle at its destination pier, right next door to the Intrepid. Piers 88,90, and 92 are collectively the New York Passenger Ship Terminal– a 70 year old complex that is desperate need of retrofitting to accommodate the larger Cruise Ships now in demand by the global market. 


Piers 88, 90, 92

New York has begun an overhaul of the 70-year-old passenger ship terminal on the West Side of Manhattan, which with its forbidding, industrial-like exterior, relatively narrow berths and antiquated waiting rooms has long needed an update.

In Manhattan, the biggest hurdle at the existing terminal, which sits along the Hudson River between West 47th and 53rd Streets, has long been a lack of space. Built in the early 1930’s and last renovated in the early 1970’s, the facility now has three finger piers – Piers 88, 90 and 92 – that are about 1,000 feet long and about 400 feet apart. A terminal building sits atop each.

The piers provide a total of five berths, but they were designed when cruise ships were often only about 80 feet in width. Modern ships now average about 136 feet, with some as wide as 142 feet. As a result, two modern vessels can no longer fit comfortably in the same slip between two of Manhattan’s piers.

The city wants to redesign the Manhattan cruise terminal to handle only three ships at a time, at Piers 88 and 90, but with more berth space for each ship. Pier 92 and its building will continue to be used through 2008, but over the next year the Economic Development Corporation will evaluate other uses for it.

Tugboat Penn. no. 6 and charge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Penn No.6 Tugboat and its fuel barge. A 580 ton tugboat, built in Pensacola Florida at the Southern Shipbuilding yards in 1970, it has been known in past incarnations as the “Robert Alario” and the “Morania no. 6”. It is owned and operated by Penn maritime. Click here for a zoomed in shot of the Penn no. 6.

79th street Boat Basin long by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Another of Robert Moses’s pet projects, the 79th street boat basin has been providing the upper crust with a manhattan berth since 1937. The only location in Manhattan for a year round residency on a houseboat, Roy Cohn and Frank Sinatra both used to maintain addresses here. One can only hint at the hidden things that transpire here. What transactions are conducted by the ruling class in an isolated aquatic plutocracy just off the coast of Manhattan?

Tugboat Lucy Reinauer by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The Tugboat Lucy Reinauer with its charge. Built in 1973, the ship’s call sign is WCX8054, and it was formerly owned by Texaco marine. Other names it has been known as were:

“MAY MCGUIRL”, “MORANIA NO. 5”, and the “TEXACO DIESEL CHIEF”. It was built at the Jakobson Shipyard, and is 200 tons. For a photo of it in a previous incarnation, visit this link.

Manhattan Harlem shoreline by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Last shot of Manhattan as we continue north on the Harvey. This is somewhere around 125-150 street. 

George Washington Bridge NJ side by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The George Washington Bridge, Jersey landing. (there’s a major GW Bridge post in your future, Newtownicans, we’re glossing over the arcana for now)

George Washington Bridge NY side by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The George Washington Bridge, Manhattan landing.

Down under the George Washington Bridge by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Down under the George Washington Bridge, aka DUGWO.

George Washington bridge from the north by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Goodbye megalopolis, and the lower part of the Hudson River that atavists and extant maritime notations refer to as “the North River“.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Posted in newtown creek

3 Responses

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  1. […] John J. Harvey Fireboat was returning from Poughkeepsie and its Fourth of July duties. The Harvey, of course, was one of the ships that fought those fires. Possibly related posts: […]

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

  3. […] photo essay of one of the fireboat’s frequent trips up the North River to Poughkeepsie. –Part 1 & Part […]

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