The Tideshift Project: Session 3 | Episode 277

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The Waterfront Museum presents the final session of The Tideshift Project, featuring stories of waterfront workers from the pre-containerization era and people working in today’s final mile shipping industry. Tideshift is a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum has recorded stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook, and from their descendants. In this episode, we were joined by waterfront veterans Jeff Gartner and Gaetano Parisi, who both worked from the 1960s through the 1980s on docks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey during the transition from breakbulk to containerized cargo.

The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Boxed in Brooklyn: Robert Gair and the Packaging Revolution | Episode 276

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In 1879, Scottish-born businessman Robert Gair stumbled upon an invention that would transform packaging and consumer products forever: a fast, mechanized way to manufacture cardboard boxes. This invention would grow into an empire of paper mills, box factories, printing plants, and even marketing and advertising arm—a vertically-integrated packaging company, based in today’s DUMBO, Brooklyn. This virtual program will look at how, a century ago, this present-day corner of the “Brooklyn Tech Triangle” was also a center of innovation for packaged food and household products.

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Fleet Week New York Celebration | Episode 275

Flight deck of USS Bataan during Fleet Week

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After a two-year hiatus, Fleet Week New York is back! So to mark the day that units arrive in New York for the celebration, we will be looking at some of the participating ships, among them two large Navy ships, four training vessels, two Coast Guard cutters, and a Royal Navy icebreaker, and the opportunities to visit them in Manhattan and Staten Island. We will also look at the history of Fleet Week and other naval reviews in New York, from the return of the victorious fleet after the Spanish-American War, the vast flotilla assembled after World War II, and our present-day Fleet Week tradition dating back to 1988. We will share images and stories of some of the special visits of military vessels to our harbor and to the Brooklyn waterfront.

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Barge Family Reunion Celebration: The Tideshift Project, Session 2 | Episode 274

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The Waterfront Museum presents the Barge Family Reunion Celebration, stories and images from people who have lived and worked aboard barges and their families. This is the second part of The Tideshift Project, a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum will record stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook and from their descendants. The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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St. George Ferry Virtual Tour | Virtual Program | Episode 273

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While the Staten Island Ferry is the oldest continuously operating ferry line in New York City, the NYC Ferry to the island is the newest. Ride with us from the Javits Center to Battery Park City to St. George as we explore the highlights of the commute on both sides of the Hudson River and Lower New York Bay. We will zip past many museum ships, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Robbins Reef Lighthouse, and Bayonne’s container terminal. We will then take a stroll around the new ferry landing in St. George and discuss challenges and changes for Staten Island’s North Shore.

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May Day: Labor History of the Brooklyn Navy Yard | Episode 272

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Waterfront workers were at the vanguard of the labor movement; the word “strike” has its origins in work stoppages on the London docks in 1768, when sailors “struck” the sails of ships to keep them in port. In New York, skilled shipworkers organized some of the earliest trade associations, and they agitated for steady wages and reduced working hours as far back as the 1820s. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, federal regulations and political patronage often stifled workers’ ability to strike, but by the time of World War II, the massive workforce of the Yard was heavily unionized, and the good-paying jobs would form the backbone of Brooklyn’s middle class. In this virtual program, we will examine the long history of labor organizing at the Yard, how workers fought for their rights in the absence of formal unions, and how the unions ultimately proved powerless against changing politics and economics of the shipbuilding industry in New York.

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My Little Chickpea: An Exploration of Falafel | Episode 270

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Most of the same food carts selling the ubiquitous street meat also offer a strikingly vegan dish that is both traditional and modern. Falafel checks all the boxes from traditional, healthy, and delicious. On this hunger inducing virtual program, our resident food expert Brian Hoffman will explore all aspects of this humble little fritter from its historic controversial origins to recommendations on the best versions in New York to an explanation on how they are made. Along the way, we will learn from some of the best falafel chefs on New York food carts, and Brian will show us how to make great falafel at home with a live cooking demonstration.

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OLMSTED 200: Parks in Conversation | Virtual Tour of Prospect Park and Central Park | Episode 269

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Join us for a special virtual tour in celebration of Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday that explores two of his New York City masterpieces—Central Park and Prospect Park. Built a decade apart, Central and Prospect Park share many similarities, but also reflect Olmsted’s evolution as a park designer and his lasting influence on landscape design and public space. Guides from Central Park Conservancy will be on site to highlight Central Park’s arches, meadows, and natural features, as Turnstile Tours guides examine parallel features in Prospect Park and compare and contrast the different elements of the parks, including examples of Olmsted designs that have been adapted to fit better with modern-day recreational uses and ecological practices. 

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(Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History: Brooklyn’s Homefront during World War II with Brooklyn Public Library

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The history and legacy of the Second World War can be seen all around us in Brooklyn. Once home to hundreds of factories, shipyards, and warehouses, and responsible for sending millions of service members off to the front lines, Brooklyn was arguably one of the most important communities in waging and winning the war. Using locations from communities across Brooklyn—including famous sites like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and lesser-known sites that help tell stories about labor, housing, and culture—as well as primary source documents and oral histories, this program will help illuminate Brooklynites’ experience of World War II.

The (Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History series brings the fascinating work of historians to an audience of students and educators through online presentations and resources for sustained engagement with local history topics.

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Trains, Transit, and Tunnels: Understanding the Bay Ridge Branch and the Interborough Express | Episode 265

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With the recent release of a feasibility study by the MTA on the “Interborough Express,” a little-known stretch of train tracks is suddenly in the news. The Bay Ridge Branch is a critical link in the freight rail network of New York Harbor and Long Island, carrying goods like construction materials, chemicals, and beer, and connecting with the Hell Gate Bridge and the city’s last cross-harbor rail barge terminal. This proposal would utilize the branch for both freight and commuter rail service, linking with the NYC subway and providing a direct route through southern and eastern Brooklyn and Queens without the need to travel through Manhattan. In this virtual program, we will look at the history of the Bay Ridge Branch, its current use and future potential, and its connection to the long-planned Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel.

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